Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Anacapa Lighthouse

Channel Islands National Park

What is it about lighthouses that sends my imagination soaring?  I know the reality of living in such an isolated place is far different than the romance I have conjured up in my mind.  Lighthouses, to me, are the most romantic places on earth.  Perhaps it is the beauty of their locales--perched on craggy coastal cliffs and windswept islands that makes me feel this way.  Perhaps it is the utter and complete promise of solitude. Or the sounds of waves crashing against the rocks.  Seals barking.  The low drone of the fog horn.  Perhaps it is the immense responsibility of being a guardian of the sea.  My beacon of light a comfort to every passing ship.

A tragedy at sea precedes almost every lighthouse ever built.  The construction of the Anacapa Lighthouse followed the wreck of the steamer Winfield Scott in 1853.  Because of the island's remoteness and high cliffs, however, construction of the lighthouse was not possible until the 1930's.  An unmanned, acetylene beacon atop a tall metal tower served as a navigational aid until the time came when transport and engineering had advanced to finally make it possible.

The Spanish revival architecture of this lighthouse, with its tiled roof, stucco walls and arched openings, makes it a real beauty.  It first contained a 3rd-order Fresnel lens and supported a community of people whose sole purpose was to keep the light well-oiled and running.  In World War II, it was completely blacked out.  In 1967, it became fully automated.  Today, both the light and fog horn are run by solar power.
After walking the trails of the island, my travel buddy and I walked up to the lighthouse.  We were sorry to see we weren't allowed all the way up.  A sign warned that the fog horn could cause permanent ear damage, although it didn't seem that loud to us.  Oh, well . . . .  We walked back down to the visitor's center and took another look at the original Fresnel lens--another beauty.
Since returning home, I've been doing some research.  I want to stay in a lighthouse.  I want to capture that romance of a time long gone.  (Or at least try!)  There are five lighthouses in California where you can stay the night:

  • East Brother Light Station, Point Richmond
  • Point Montara Lighthouse, Montara
  • Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero
  • Point Arena Lighthouse, Point Arena
  • Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, Mendocino
My travel plans for 2015 are filling up fast!

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