St. George's new lantern now on site

October 17, 2002 12:00 am
The new lantern is lowered to the deck of the lighthouse yesterday by a helicopter. (Stephen M. Corley/ The Daily Triplicate).
The new lantern is lowered to the deck of the lighthouse yesterday by a helicopter. (Stephen M. Corley/ The Daily Triplicate).

By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

Weather and fate cooperated yesterday to allow the successful helicopter delivery of a new lantern to the St. George Reef Lighthouse.

The light will be the central attraction of the historic beacon's 110th anniversary celebration this weekend.

Carrying a sling bag full of heavy equipment made the delivery landing less than simple, yesterday for the helicopter journey.

Because the light comes with three 150 pound batteries, solar panels and a wind generator, the volunteer workers installing the light did not want to lug all of it up the narrow winding staircase that stretches six stories.

To solve that problem, pilot Dave Everson choreographed the flight to hover just above the top of the lighthouse and so the heavy hanging bag could swing perfectly onto the beacon's top deck.

The maneuver allowed volunteers of the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society to carry the heavy equipment just inside the deck door and into the crowning glass lantern room.

Once assembled and turned on this Saturday at nightfall, the light will end 27 years of darkness for St. George.

Making the event possible was Glenn Williamson, a relatively recent resident of Smith River.

Williamson purchased all of the machinery for the light and used his knowledge as an electrical engineer to design a system to power the light with solar and wind power.

He and his neighbor Lee Newman are also donating the muscle and time to install the light system.

Williamson got involved in the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society originated and run by Guy Towers to fulfill the dream of late wife Colleen Williamson who loved lighthouses and wanted to see St. George shine again.

In a ceremony Saturday just after nightfall, Glenn Williamson will illuminate the light which will be visible for 27 miles.

On Sunday, members of the public have a chance to fly to and tour the inside of the lighthouse for $150 per person.

To make reservations or get more information call 464-8299 or just show up at the Crescent City Airport before noon.