Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2013

Pigeon Point Celebrates 140th Anniversary


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Uniformed docent Peter Bohacek stands in front of ...

Established in November of 1872, California’s Pigeon Point Light Station recently celebrated its 140th Anniversary.

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Pigeon Point’s first order Fresnel lens now sits ...

Traditionally, Pigeon Point’s first order Fresnel lens is lit on the anniversary date, but the lens no longer sits in the lighthouse tower. Moved in November of 2011 as the initial step in a multi-million dollar restoration program, the lens still provides a brilliant display in the fog signal building. The building also houses an Interpretive Center highlighting Pigeon Point’s cultural and maritime history.

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Authors JoAnn Semones and Shannon Nottestad ...

To mark the historic occasion, a new educational video was debuted. Produced by Rosemerrie Decker, the film captures the beginning chapter of Pigeon Point’s restoration efforts. Decker declared, “If ever there was a time to create a video documentary about Pigeon Point’s comprehensive story, now is the moment.”

Part of the restoration work is being funded by a generous grant from the Hind Foundation, established by philanthropists Greg and Jane Hind. The goal of the organization is “to fund community-based projects and programs that encourage people to work together to build an enduring legacy for future generations.”

Greg Hind passed away in October, yet he lived to see the movement of the Fresnel lens into a protected environment as well as the completion of critical repair work. The work involved repairs that are intended to reduce further deterioration of Pigeon Point’s tower until enough money is raised to complete restoration, including, replacement of cracked glass in the lantern room, removal and replacement of external sealant around the glass panes, cleaning of cast iron elements at the top of the tower, application of rust converter to exposed metal, filling of open gaps in the masonry to prevent further water intrusion, and placement of debris netting around the belt course.

As part of the anniversary celebration, local authors were on hand to sign copies of their books. They included JoAnn Semones with her popular series focusing on shipwrecks at lighthouses along the central California coast – Shipwrecks, Scalawags, and Scavengers: The Stories Waters of Pigeon Point; Hard Luck Coast: The Perilous Reefs of Point Montara; and “Sea of Troubles: The Lost Ships of Point Sur.

She also developed the concepts and wrote the text for Pigeon Point’s Interpretive Center.

According to Semones, “Pigeon Point is an iconic symbol of our maritime heritage. It is a deep part of our history, a history to be explored, understood, and preserved.”

Shannon Nottestad, editor and publisher of Legends of the Coastland by artist Galen Wolf, also participated. Wolf created the “Legends” as a series of sixteen watercolor mosaics accompanied by stories. Several of his coastal images are featured in Pigeon Point’s Interpretive Center. “Galen Wolf was a master story-teller and innovative artist,” Nottestad explained. “His tales and renderings are vivacious representations of our colorful Coastside history.”

Known fondly as “the plant ladies,”Avis Boutell and Nancy Frost were also available to discuss their book, Plants and Plant Communities of the San Mateo Coast. They said,

“We collaborated with botanist Toni Corelli to develop the most complete reference work about plants of the San Mateo coast. It’s for people who wonder, what are those things we see over there?”

In addition, uniformed light keepers and docents lead grounds tours, the Lighthouse String Band provided lively music,The 5 M’s sang sea chanties, and information displays were provided by the California State Parks Foundation, Coastside State Parks Association, Año Nuevo State Park, Hosteling International, and Pigeon Point’s Native Plant Restoration Program.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 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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