Lighthouse to shine once more

October 14, 2002 12:00 am

By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

Though it has been sitting dark for 27 years on its isolated rock base six miles off Crescent City's coast, the St. George Reef Lighthouse will come alive again with its new modern lantern next Saturday night.

Caretaker and leaseholder Guy Towers and his volunteer crew will flick the switch at nightfall next weekend to celebrate the beacon's 110th anniversary.

"It's a dream come true," Towers said.

His dream is made possible by Towers' vision and recent successes in reinstalling the lighthouse's reconstructed metal-framed glass lantern room and by donations from the U.S. Coast Guard and Glenn Williamson of Smith River.

According to Towers, Williamson is donating the money to hire the helicopters to get the light from land to the lighthouse.

Williamson, who could not be reached, moved to Smith River recently after his retirement, but his wife who had a passion for lighthouses passed away in the process of the move.

"When we turn on the light, it will be for her," Towers said.

Tours to the lighthouse on its 110th birthday will be offered on Sunday, Oct. 20 for the general public.

Up to three people at a time will fly by helicopter to the rock and have about an hour to have a tour up and down the seven level spiral stair case and the rooms it links.

About 45 people have already booked their tours. Flights will begin at 7 a.m.

St. George Reef Lighthouse was originally constructed following the sinking of the Brother Jonathan steamship in 1865.

Building it was no easy task. Sneaker waves, harsh weather and incredibly heavy building materials made progress slow. It took 11 years and several crews of men to complete it.

As navigational maps and technology progressed, the need for the lighthouse waned. In 1975, the lighthouse was decommissioned.

To schedule a trip to the unique historic lighthouse, contact the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society at P.O. Box 577, Crescent City, California 95531.