Santa Barbara Lighthouse, Santa Barbara

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The Santa Barbara Lighthouse is located between the East Mesa and West Mesa neighborhoods, about 2 miles (3 km) west of the Santa Barbara Harbor, in the City of Santa Barbara, California. The light was established on December 1, 1856. The site was selected by the U.S. Lighthouse Service, a precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard, to serve the dual purpose of a seacoast light and a harbor light. Municipal authorities of Santa Barbara, realizing the benefit of a navigational aid for their community, conveyed the necessary land gratis, provided that it did not exceed 30 acres (12 ha).

George Nagle of San Francisco was contracted to build the lighthouse for $8,000. The design was similar to most of the early west coast lighthouses, a Cape Cod style structure with a light tower projecting from the middle of a one-and-a-half-story light keeper’s dwelling. On December 19, 1856, a fixed red light was displayed from a fourth-order Fresnel lens installed in the tower’s lantern room. The first keeper at the station was Albert Williams, but after four years he was replaced by a series of three short-term keepers. In 1865, the position was again offered to Williams and he declined, but his wife Julia accepted. She maintained the light by herself for the next 40 years, retiring in 1905 at the age of 81.

On June 29, 1925, a severe earthquake jolted the area at 6:45 a.m. and light keeper Raymond Weeks was thrown from his makeshift bed in an outbuilding where he had been forced to spend the night due to the large number of relatives that had spent the night after a gathering the previous evening. Concerned for his family’s safety, Weeks ran to the lighthouse and ushered everyone outside. Just moments later, the tower and lantern came crashing down, followed soon by the walls of the small dwelling. The Fresnel lens was shattered, and the structure was a total loss, but everyone escaped injury. A temporary frame tower was erected until a new lighthouse could be built. The current light is on a bluff inside a fenced Coast Guard compound with housing and a playground. Read more here and here. Explore more of Santa Barbara Light here:


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