Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2011

Mt. Diablo Airway Beacon

By Timothy Harrison


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Recently this old newspaper photograph, taken on April 16, 1928, of the Mt. Diablo Airway Beacon recently came into our possession. Since the United States Lighthouse Service Airways Division was at the forefront of early airway navigation, we were extremely interested in the photo.

We found out that the letters S D on the tower represented Standard Oil Company, which constructed the tower to help guide early pilots in the days before modern communication. Whether they built the tower in cooperation with the government or on their own is unclear. Mt. Diablo is in Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay area of California. It was reported that the light could be seen for 100 miles.

The tower is still standing; however the beacon has been removed. The light from the tower is now on display atop the Rotunda of the Summit Museum and is lit each year on December 7 for ceremonies that are held, weather permitting, to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day.

Interestingly, in an effort to create a dramatic image, either the photographer or the newspaper added the airplane into the photo. However, the image is still an interesting slice of history.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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