Lighthouses

Alcatraz Island Lighthouse

The Alcatraz Island Lighthouse

A nice picture of the Alcatraz Island Lighthouse in California.

Located on the famous Alcatraz Island in CA, United States, the Alcatraz Island Lighthouse stands guard over the bay of San Fransisco. More specifically, it stands guard over Alcatraz Island’s southern prison entrance.

The first incarnation of the lighthouse was built in 1854, and it served as a guiding light when the island was still a military prison. It was upgraded in 1909, and was replaced by a taller concrete tower that stood 95 feel above sea level. The first tower was then demolished after being rendered unoperable after an earthquake in 1906 severely damaged it. The lighthouse was then abandoned by its keepers and then upgraded and automated on 1963, when the Alcatraz Island prison was decomissioned. Considered as the oldest of all lighthouses on the U.S. West Coast, and is also considered as one of the tallest buildings in all of Alcatraz Island. When viewed from a distance, it may seem to be the tallest building on the island, but it is actually a bit shorter than the water tower of Alcatraz island.

First used as a place for harvesting eggs from birds that nested on the island, Native American Indians were the first settlers of Alcatraz Island. The island was named such after a large number of pelicans were seen to be inhabiting the island by a spaniard, Juan de Ayala, who was surveying the San Fransisco Harbor and Bay. First called “Isla de los Alcatrases”, it was almost a mile away from the mainland, making it an excellent place for a prison.

The natually turbulent waters of United States’ west coast and the almost maniacal allure of the gold rush sparked the inherent demand for the deployment of lighthouses. The Federal Government acknowledged the need for lighthouses and passed acts in 1851 and later in 1852 to erect several lighthouses to support navigation in the West Coast. The lighthouses that were commisioned were ones for Fort Point, Alcatraz Island, Point Loma, Point Piños, Farallon Island, Cape Disappointment, and Humboldt bay. The equipment for the Alcatraz lighthouse arrived on the 28th of January, 1853 at San Fransisco. Of the lighthouses that were commissioned on 1851 and 1852, the first one to be completed was the famous prison island’s light, finished on 1853.

The lighthouse light apparatus was fitted with Parabolic reflectors, as the by-then top of the line Fresnel lens was very expensive to make and order. But later on, lighthouses were demanded to have the best illumination and the most optimal performance, and thus Fresnel lenses were eventually acquired and installed in the lighthouses to boost its effective range. It eventually was upgraded to a revolving light beacon in 1902, that flashed every five seconds.

The present prison building of Alcatraz was erected fom 1909-1912. Since the prison complex would be in the way of the lighthouse’s operation, a taller tower made of concrete was constructed a bit south of Alcatraz’s first lighthouse. The first lighthouse was severely damaged during a great earthquake in 1906, and was rendered inoperable. Eventually, the old tower was demolished. The newer lighthouse, standing at 84 meters, was an automated tower, set by the US Coast Guard.

The current lighthouse’s foundation was built out of brick and masonry while the main tower composed mainly of concrete. A reflector made of Fresnel lens was fitted in 1854, which was replaced by a better version of the Fresnel lens in 1903. A set of buildings was also built near the lighthouse; quarters for the keepers and their immediate families. Telephones, only accessible to the keepers, were also provided in the keeper’s rooms. These were the first telephones on he island, until the establishment of the island’s prison made more phones available.

As with most lighthouses, the Alcatraz lighthouse was maintained and manned by the lighthouse keepers. Their duties, aside from the maintenance of the lighthouse, involve the activation of fog warning signals, which can be accessed on the northern and southern parts of Alcatraz. Prison guards would assist and facilitate the keepers in the activation of the said fog horns, as they can also see better on their watch towers. Once prison guards see any signs of fog materializing at the Golden Gate Bridge, they would promptly let the lighthouse keepers know. And the keepers would then activate the fog warning horns, avoiding any disaster that might occur in the fog. The complex was later on ravaged by a fire in 1970, which burnt everything except the concrete lighthouse tower. This silent sentinel was converted into a museum in 2000.

Distant View Of The Alcatraz Island Lighthouse

A photo of a far off view of the Alcatraz Island Lighthouse.

 

The Alcatraz Island Lighthouse Base

A pic of what it looks like from the bottom of the Alcatraz Island Lighthouse.

 

A Close View Of The Alcatraz Island Lighthouse

A nice close up shot of the Alcatraz Island Lighthouse.

The Alcatraz Island Lighthouse From Higher Up

A birds eye view of the Alcatraz Island Lighthouse.

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