By Thea Skinner
Triplicate staff writer
St. George Reef Lighthouse's shining lamp once warned sailors about dangerous coastal rocks.
The lamp and lighthouse darkened when expenses and life-threatening tides took it in the
The lighthouse and reef are located six miles off the coast of Point St. George.
In modern times, the lighthouse is used for historical tours and will be undergoing reconstruction again.
"The tours are on hold, as we are waiting for a wildlife (take) permit," said Towers "The seals rear their pups up there and they are a threatened species," he said.
The take permit will authorize an incidental kill or harassment of an animal in the reconstruction process, Towers said.
"You can not operate around a threatened species without one," Towers said. He believes the group is in the final stage of getting the take permit.
"We anticipate going out there in early October," he said.
The museum is a part of the harbor master development plan, which was approved in 2006.
A plan for the museum is being engineered, and Towers spoke with a grant writer Monday to begin the search for reconstruction funds.
"We are working on getting the light back on in the fall," Towers said "We had the light on for a year and a technical problem made it go out. You have good visibility of it in Brookings."
The reef was originally called Dragon's Rock, because of the ocean's channel that ran near it, according to the Del Norte Historical Society.
This name was attributed before the Coast Guard took it over and before radar was invented. Fisherman knew where to watch for the rocks.
The reef became known as Northwest Seal Rock, a 300-feet in diameter reef, where construction of the lighthouse began in 1882.
Construction resulted from the wreck of Brother Jonathan in 1865 off the coast of St. George Reef, an occurence that influenced the federal government to spend millions of dollars.
At the time, it was the most expensive lighthouse constructed and repaired in the United States, which cost $704,000 before the project was completed. The lighthouse is also the tallest on the Pacific Coast at 134 feet.
Construction workers could not camp on site, so they stayed on a steamer called the Alliance.
This floating hotel had about seven anchors that held it in the treacherous waters. A heavy gale parted the steamer from the reef and it was ball-and-chained in place after it was recovered.
The smallest stone in the tower weighed two and one-half tons. The largest was 17 tons. The quarry site was in the Mad River area.
A radio-controlled light buoy replaced the lighthouse functions in 1975.
"It was expensive and dangerous to operate," said Guy Towers, president of St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society. "It is too dangerous to have keepers out there. It is a magnificent structure and a part of local history."