CA Places: St. George Reef Lighthouse

In 1865 the overloaded passenger steamer Brother Jonathan quickly encountered severe winds and rough seas after leaving San Francisco Bay. Attempting to reach safety in the Crescent City harbor, the ship was forced to pass through St. George Reef, where thick, smoke-like spray obscured the rocks.  Dubbed the “Dragon Rocks” in 1792 by explorer George Vancouver, the St. George Reef is the peak of a submerged volcanic mountain.  The Brother Jonathan struck the reef on July 30, 1865, resulting in the loss of almost 200 lives. Planning began to place a lighthouse in the treacherous waters.  Constructed between 1882 and 1892, the St. George Reef lighthouse is an outstanding engineering feat placed on a concrete pier built on a wave-washed rock six miles off the California coast near Crescent City. The structure rises 150 feet above the sea. Always considered one of the most dangerous stations in the lighthouse service, it ceased operation in 1975. Its magnificent Fresnel Lens now resides in the Del Norte County Historical Society Museum, but the lighthouse itself is not accessible to the public.  See the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society website for more information.

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