Point Arena Lighthouse

The lighthouse at this site was constructed in 1870. The brick-and-mortar tower included ornate iron balcony supports and a large keeper residence with enough space to house several families. The April 1906 earthquake struck the light station. The keeper’s residence and lighthouse were damaged so severely they had to be demolished. The United States Lighthouse Service contracted with a San Francisco based company to build a new lighthouse on the site, and specified that it had to be able to withstand any future earthquakes. The company chosen normally built factory smokestacks, which accounts for the final design for the new Point Arena Lighthouse, featuring steel reinforcement rods encased in concrete. This was the first lighthouse built this way.

The new lighthouse began operation in 1908, nearly 18 months after the quake. It stands 115 feet tall, and featured a 1st Order Fresnel Lens, over six feet in diameter and weighing more than six tons. The lens was made up of 666 hand-ground glass prisms all focused toward three sets of double bullseyes. It was these bullseyes that gave the Point Arena Lighthouse its unique “light signature” of two flashes every six seconds. The optics, which held an appraised value of over $3.5 million, was set in solid brass framework, and was built in France.

Prior to the introduction of electricity, the lens was rotated by a clockwork mechanism. The Keepers, or “wickies” as they were called, had to hand crank a 160-pound weight up the center shaft of the lighthouse every 75 minutes to keep the lens turning. Light was produced by a “Funck” hydraulic oil lamp, that needed to be refueled every four hours, and whose wicks would have to be trimmed regularly. Later, two 1,000 watt electric lamps were installed to replace the oil lamp, and a ​18 horsepower electric motor was installed to replace the clockworks.

Below are three recent photos of the Point Arena Lighthouse.

Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena Lighthouse at night

Point Arena Lighthouse at night

Point Arena Lighthouse in the moonlight

Point Arena Lighthouse in the moonlight

Mendocino Coast Ravaged By 1983 Storm

In a previous blog I told of the stormy weather along the Mendocino Coast. In that post I included a pic of a huge wave overwhelming the pier at Point Arena. In my search for arcane historical info about the Mendocino Coast I have found out that the pic was but one of a series of photos and that the storm took place in 1983.

Ken Jones website about the Point Arena Pier contains this text which was taken from Charles Rappleye article in the Ukiah Daily Journal of January 27, 1983:

Thousands of coast residents remained without power this morning in the wake of wind and heavy rains from the winter’s roughest storm, but damage was light throughout the inland areas of the county…

Point Arena, at the county’s southern tip, was the hardest hit. Waves, wind and localized flooding caused the collapse of two buildings near the water at Point Arena Cove and smashed through the front windows of the Cove Café.

Eight people were caught inside the restaurant and its rear buildings when the high water struck, but all were rescued without injury.

“My little boy was trapped,” Betty Moran said. “I floated around and started screaming for help. I was afraid that another wave would come and force them to leave me.”

“I was in the building taking a shower when it happened,” said Dori Fox, daughter of the restaurant’s owner.

“I was standing in there looking out the window like I always do and then I saw a wave coming eye level.”

 “I’ve never been so scared in my life. The water was coming in all over — under the door, up the drain. I got out of the house, and people were running all over screaming.”

Fox, 26, said she had lived there all her life and never seen such high surf.

Along with the destroyed boathouse and outbuildings, raging seas demolished much of the Point Arena Cove pier, built during the last century to load timber ships…”

These are the pics:

Point Arena Pier before the

Point Arena Pier before the 1983 Storm

 Storm at Point Arena Pic #1

Storm at Point Arena Pic #1

 Storm at Point Arena Pic #1

Storm at Point Arena Pic #2

 Storm at Point Arena Pic #3

Storm at Point Arena Pic #3

After the 1983 Storm at Point Arena

After the 1983 Storm at Point Arena

The pics were taken by Nicholas King.

We don’t get snow but ………

The wreck of the Sea Foam off of Point Arena in February 1931

If you check out our website section on ships under “S” you’ll find info on the Sea Foam. Alas, the info is effusive but not too heavy on fact. Hopefully this blog rectifies the lack of facts.

Built by John Lindstrom in Aberdeen, Washington in 1904. She displaced 339 tons. She had a 250,000 board feet capacity and carried both lumber and passengers. Her dimensions were 127 x 32 x 10 feet with a 500 h.p. compound engine. The Sea Foam was operated by J.H. Fritch of San Francisco. The coast residents relied on the Sea Foam. She carried everything the coast residents needed, equipment for the mills such as saws, clothing, furniture and even pianos. Here’s a copy of her schedule:

Sea Foam schedule

Sea Foam schedule

The Sea Foam crashed on the south reef of the Point Arena harbour in February 1931. She was en route from Eureka to San Francisco, stopping at Point Arena to pick up freight. As the captain was entering harbour he decided the sea was too rough. When he was bringing her around the Sea Foam was caught by a heavy tow and was carried around to the reef with disasterous results. The Coast Guard launched a boat with a crew of seven and despite the rough seas and 45 mph winds was able to rescue all 19 men who were aboard.

Here are pictures of the wreck:

Wreck of the Sea Foam

Wreck of the Sea Foam

Sea Foam on the murderous rocks

Sea Foam on the murderous rocks

Iverson (Landing) just south of Point Arena on the Mendocino Coast

Iverson (also spelled Iversen) was located 5 miles south of Point Arena. A post office operated at Iverson from 1890 to 1910. The name honored Charles Iverson.

The above was about the sum total of what I knew about Iverson until quite recently. I knew from various sources that there was a chute there. Chutes were used to get cut lumber from shore to a schooner moored as close to the shore as was safe. This, I think, was the chute at Iverson (Landing):

Chute at Iverson on the Mendocino Coast

Chute at Iverson

The other picture that I garnered was this one:

Railroad ties en route to the Iverson chute on the Mendocino Coast

Railroad ties en route to the Iverson chute

But, who was Charles Iverson? Well, for starters I am not sure his name was Charles. I think that this is he along with his wife and two children.

Capt. Niels Iverson

Capt. Niels Iverson

My info says Capt. Niels Iverson was known for being a very industrious businessman. He came to San Francisco in 1830 from Denmark. He settled in Point Arena in 1865 and opened a store. The store expanded into a meat market. He later opened the Point Arena Hotel. He also owned a paper mill and a saw mill.

The location of the mill I haven’t yet figured out. But I will …….

Another sliver of local history meets the light of day.

 

 

Stormy Weather along the Mendocino Coast

As a preface to the photo below I am going to copy a couple of paras from our website:

The vessels that plied in and out of Mendocino’s doghole ports bringing in machinery and supplies and taking out lumber products had to deal with frequent foul weather and rock strewn approaches. During storms along the Mendocino coast, ships lying at coast landings had to put out to sea to avoid being lost. If you were a sailing vessel that was no easy task. Steam powered schooners which started to supplant sail around 1900 fared better because they get up steam quickly and ride out the storm at sea.

One of the worst storms on record occurred between November 17th and 23rd, 1865. Mrs. Silas Coombs of Little River wrote about the storm in the November 28th issue of the “Ukiah Herald.” She reported that in one night at Noyo (Fort Bragg) the schooner R. J. Whiting disappeared, at Caspar the schooner Metis was a complete wreck. In the harbor at Little River three schooners, Ellen Adelia, Don Leandro and Phoebe Fay were beached and wrecked. At Mendocino City the Storm Cloud and the Golden State were wrecked. At Point Reyes the schooner Helen was lost and outside of San Francisco Bay the schooner Helen Louisa was also lost.”

I have never found any photos of that storm. The photo below, I believe, was taken at Point Arena. As it is a black and white photo I presume that it was taken prior to the 1940’s.

Point Arena (?)

Point Arena (?)

Imagine being at sea in that lot,

 

Bowling Ball Beach near Point Arena, CA

Ever been there? Great place to visit for sunsets.

Historically, Schooner Gulch is within the territory of the coastal branch of the Central Pomo Indians which extends from the mouth of the Navarro River to the mouth of the Gualala River. The area was frequented by Russians and native Alaskan hunters as early as 1812, and by Mexican land owners in the 1840’s.

John Galloway was the first recorded occupant of the area. John was born in Scotland and occupied an area of Schooner Gulch between 1866 and 1868, which was largely used as a milling operation for timber. Logging continued at Schooner Gulch until the late 1800’s, through various other milling operations.

Another interesting part of the history of Schooner Gulch is the Galloway School. The school land was donated by John and Margaret Galloway. Galloway School operated for 62 years, from 1874 to 1936 with never more than 40 students. In 1940 the school lot was sold, and land around the lot was farmed by the Nobles family until 1986 at which time the land was sold to the State of California.

Legend has it that Schooner Gulch got its name from a story in which a schooner was sited, one evening, stranded on the beach in the mouth of the gulch, yet in the morning showed no evidence of being there.

Great place for pics too: