Alcatraz Island Lighthouse Shines a Beam of Gold

blogalcatraz The prison Lighthouse was inspired by the California Gold Rush of 1848! In five years, the bay was jammed packed and jelly tight with vessels loaded with fortune seekers hoping to land a good fortune! The Lighthouse of the Rock was the first working Lighthouse on the Pacific coast and beamed a Light through the Golden Gate passage for mariners entering the port of San Francisco.

To accommodate the safety of the sailing Gold Diggers, a Lighthouse was built and completed by July 1853 yet, the Light was First Lit almost a year later on June 1, 1854 exhibiting a Fixed White Light. There was confusion about which lighting system should be used – the old Argand lamps and parabolic reflectors or the new Fresnel lens. Eventually, the new Lighthouse Board approved the superior performance of a Third-order Fresnel lens.

The first Tower rose above the center a two-story Cape Cod style Keeper’s house. The 50-foot high Lighthouse was painted white with a black trim and was similar to the design of old Point Loma Lighthouse.

By the time the first Lighthouse was built, the first guns were mounted in the South Battery of Alcatraz Island in 1853 as part of the plans for the Alcatraz Citadel, a fortified military barrack completed in 1859 just north of the Lighthouse. Although the guns of Alcatraz never fired a shot to defend the city during the Civil War, 39 people were imprisoned in the Alcatraz Citadel for celebrating the news of President Lincoln’s assassination. This event marks the humble beginnings for the renown notoriety of the Rock!

In 1902, the Lighthouse was refitted with a revolving Fourth-order Fresnel lens exhibiting a Flashing White Light every 5-seconds. On April 18, 1906, a San Francisco earthquake cracked the Lighthouse and Light-keeper B.F. Leeds wrote in his Keeper’s Log, “is this the end of the world?”

In 1909, the Lighthouse and Citadel was demolished and replaced by the present prison cell house and a 84-foot high octagonal concrete Lighthouse. The new Lighthouse was First Lit on Dec 1st, 1909 exhibiting a Flashing White Light every 5-seconds illuminated by a Fourth-order Fresnel lens 214-feet above sea level visible to a range of 22 nautical miles.

The new Keeper’s house was next to the quarters of the prison doctor and the warden. At times, Lighthouse Keepers faced the dangerous task of crossing the prison compound to activate the two Fog signals at the other end of the Rock. The Lookout Tower guards would notify the Light-Keepers when they saw a fog bank rolling in and the Keepers passed through each gate on the hand signals of the guards.

The Rock was a military prison until 1933 when the prison became a federal penitentiary. In 1946, the Battle of Alcatraz was recorded by a Lighthouse Keeper
when Bernard Coy attempted his bloody escape. Marines dropped grenades into the cell block to quiet the explosive riot! Of the 6 escapees, three were killed during the “44 hours of hell” as one Light-keeper described the battle of May 2nd. Two men were later executed for killing two guards and the third survivor was given an additional life sentence.

Due to maintainence costs, the Rock was closed in 1963 and the Lighthouse was automated on November 22, 1963. From Nov 9th, 1969 to June 11, 1971, Native Americans occupied the island by claiming the Rock was part of the 1868 Sioux Treaty.
After a mysterious fire destroyed the Keeper’s and Warden’s houses on June 1, 1970, the Indian population began to dwindle due to the lack of water. A pre-dawn raid finally ended the voluntary Indian incarceration!

After surviving burning, prison breakouts, and riots, Alcatraz Lighthouse stands tall as an Active Aid to navigation managed by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. To close this Lighthouse Christmas story, we need to find the two Lighthouses inspired by Frankincense and Myrrh! Maybe, Linda has these Lights hidden in her blogging manger?

blue_starMap Location:
For a Map Location of the Lighthouse, please visit the Google Map of Alcatraz Island Lighthouse

Interesting coincidence?
Did you notice the connection of two events hidden in the post?

The first major event at the Citadel on the Rock was the incarceration of confederates in 1865 for celebrating the news of President Lincoln’s assassination. Later, Alcatraz Island Lighthouse was automated on the day JFK was assassinated. Perhaps, Ed the Editor can calculate the odds?

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About Debbie Dolphin

Lighthouse author and photographer living in New England

Posted on December 21, 2007, in History, Holidays, Humor and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. Really awesome post! Really!

  2. Hi Eric “Speedcat Hollydale,”

    You are most welcome!

    May I recommend using this category, “The Serendipitous Studies of Speedcat Hollydale” ? 🙂

    Did you sing the “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” with Gordon Lightfoot at Split Rock Lighthouse?

  3. I just wanted to say “thanks” … I really enjoyed my visit to your blog!! Very interesting, I wish I had a topical blog. I do not know what to catagorize mine as – RANDOM maybe?

    As a kid, we would stop at Split Rock Lighthouse on the way up North. (Minnesota)

  4. Hi Kim,

    You are most welcome!

    Surprises me, your Doctor didn’t begin your treatment using Celebrex first.

  5. Thanks Debbie
    the celebrex is making a difference (touch wood)….:)

  6. Your welcome, Kim!

    I hope your shoulder gets well, soon!

  7. thanks for the info dd as that’s the most positive news i’ve heard so far…
    i had x rays yesterday at the hospital where the doctor there diagnosed rct…….they didn’t give me anything …just told me to take panadol and neurofen
    i’ve just been to my doctor today and he has given me celebrex……..so i’ve taken 1 x200mg…..
    i hope mine clears up like your husbands did…as i’m starting to feel a strain on my other shoulder and arm…

    yes the option may be for me to have some time off if it doesn’t improve …eek…..

  8. Hi Kim,

    I am surprised the Doctor didn’t give you a cortisone injection. My husband had that treatment for rotator cuff tendonitis years ago and his shoulder was back to normal in two days. I hear they use Celebrex to treat the inflammation now.

    hmm… massive bribery for Charlotte or one arm typing must be a difficult decision?

  9. hi dd and tatt
    have had the diagnosis on the arm and have rotator cuff tendonitis…
    arm in a sling and future posts will be via the co’s new typist my daughter charlotte …with massive bribery…..
    as you see she is not working for me atm…hence the one armed lower case comment ……

  10. Hi Two-armed Typo Tycoon,

    Something like we have the Typo Tycoon Star to play the lead role in Technorati Tunagate per ~ Scene 90, Take 91 ~ ?

  11. Hi Kim,

    Oooff.. that sounds bad and painful. Take Care, will ya? Rest, rest, & rest!
    and then give it some more rest.. Don’t start forcing your arm!

    I just learned that my son Ward (14) broke his wrist on the 2nd day of his first skiing (read: snowboarding) trip ever.. So sad, and so disappointed he is.. (and there’s nothing I can do, he’s somewhere out there in Austria with my ex).

    Debbie, I meant normal, regular (non-secret) posts on each of our blogs, that nobody knows will be put together as a novel later on. Each individual post would have to be able to “stand on its own”, but these posts could each be a scene of this “compose-a-script”(TM) secret moviememe…

  12. Hi Kim,

    A pulled muscle, Ouch – hopefully, it isn’t serious?

    I wish we had a young typer for me when I broke my wrist at a rocky coastline photographing a Lighthouse last year!

    A free secretary is needed for every Blogging CEO!

  13. ohhh I agree with all of your new developments Debbie and Jos…
    I am a little out of action atm due to a pulled muscle in my left shoulder (turning a rather large painting just before Christmas)..
    I thought it would get better or simply go away …
    but it hasn’t so I’m off to the hospital to get it checked out today
    you may have to forge onwards without me…..
    signing out via my kind daughter who’s typing this for me
    the one armed online artist 🙂

  14. Hi Jos,

    After ROFL and with great difficulty in composing myself, a secret tagging Meme in secret posts (via eMail???) might work to co-create our secret BlockBuster Novel.

    For the moment,
    A comical plot will be Nice,
    Yet, my brain is on Ice,
    Due to Happy Holiday Spice,
    The New England Deep Freeze fuel Price,
    And especially our Christmas comedy Advice!

    Hopefully, your role of Rocky Balbo using LOL, ROFL, and LMAO will put us out of our Rocky miseries! (and our Sly miseries, too?)

    P.S. I am happy to hear A.O. does not (not!) have a R-rated decryption.

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