By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Putting the dome back on St. George Reef lighthouse wont happen this summer after all.
This is getting ridiculous. Were old men, by the time we get this set up, theyll have to take our corpses out there, said Phil Acton of the Lighthouse Preservation Society. Its been more than a year since the dome and lantern room were flown into Crescent City Harbor for repair. Upon landing, the rusty frame of the lantern room crumbled.
Now that the frame is rebuilt, Acton and Preservation Society President Guy Tower were hoping to reinstall it this month.
But there are no helicopters available that can handle the five-ton dome.
Right now all the helicopters are off fighting fires, Acton said.
The U.S. Coast Guard ran a test flight to the lighthouse with its Chinook helicopter. Wind and close quarters on the rock made it too dangerous to use for this mission, Acton said.
The main mission of the lighthouse group is to fully restore the weatherbeaten beacons interior to its original condition.
A makeshift cover where the dome used to be is the only thing blocking rain from going inside. Getting the permanent dome back on will make replacing the interior decor more feasible.
It should be exactly as it was when the keepers lived in it, said Tower, president of the society he formed 10 years ago.
The interior was originally lined with the finest redwood and Port Orford cedar paneling. Its living quarters werent posh by any means, but much more livable than its current state. Tower and his group will work to install running water, electricity and all the original interior.
As a last resort, Acton said the group may rent a Sky Crane helicopter for an attempt this October.
That would cost $25,000 for one trip and theyre not willing to give us a price break, Acton said.
Everyone will get the chance to see the refurbished dome and lantern room in the Fourth of July parade.
The two pieces will ride on a Snoozie Shavings lowboy. The huge historic lens that threw light off Crescent Citys coast since the late 1800s is now housed on display in the Del Norte County Historical Society museum.
During the parade next Wednesday, Acton said hell stop his float with the dome in front of the museum for a presentation.
Thats the closest that dome will ever be to the lens. Well play a little inspirational music and bring the parade to a standstill for a minute, he said.