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Name: Farallon Island Light   Map it!

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Also known as: Farallone Island Light

Nearest Town or City:
San Francisco, California, United States

Location: Highest point on Southeast Farallon Island, off entrance to San Francisco Bay.

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Managing Organization:
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge

Telephone: 510-792-0222


Contact Address Information:
c/o Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR Complex
P.O. Box 524
California, 94560-0524, United States

Biologists now use the lighthouse as a lookout to observe marine mammals and sharks, as well as the largest seabird breeding colony in the United States. Don Parsons writes: "I was an electronic technician and served, off and on, on the island from 1946-1948. I assisted in installing its original radar beacon (Racon) and did my stints of running up and down the paths to turn on and turn off the light at the appropriate times. My first contact with the island was to sweat a piece of metal to the cam controlling the fog horn which had developed a six-second blast rather than its assigned five-second blast. Subsequently, I traveled to the island to repair and maintain its communication and fog related transmitters. (I also replaced its 500 watt bulb bi-weekly and packed it for return to the manufacturer for replacement of the filament in each.) I was stationed at the electronic depot at YBI. Chief Freddie Galien was in charge with Chief Herbert Lance Gordon as second in command. My major regret is in not taking pictures of the light while I had the chance. I don't have a good picture of the light with its original lens. My recollection of the set-up is it contained the largest escapement mechanism I'd ever seen. This dated, of course, to the time before electricity and I never did learn whether it could have been used in case of power failures of all systems and back-ups. In those days, the 'keepers of the light' lived on the island with their families. Chief Bosun's Mate Greathouse was in charge while Russell Stockfleth (whose wife was Genevieve) ran the mechanicals."

Tower Height: 41

Height of Focal Plane: 358

Characteristic and Range: White flash every 15 seconds.

Description of Tower: Conical, white brick tower with brick foundation. The lantern has been removed.

Listed on the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List of endangered lighthouses.

This light is operational

Other Buildings?
Two 1876 keeper's houses (Victorian wood duplexes), two cisterns, oil house, handcart railway.

Date Established: 1855

Date Present Tower Built: 1855

Date Automated: 1972

Optics: 1855: First order Fresnel lens. The lantern was removed for the installation of a DCB-224 optic. Present optic is a VEGA VRB. The original Fresnel lens is now at San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park Museum on Fisherman's Wharf, (415) 556-3002.

Fog Signal: Had a wave-activated fog whistle developed by Major Hartman Bache -- a locomotive whistle mounted over a natural blowhole (1859-1871).

Current Use: Active aid to navigation in wildlife refuge.

Open To Public? No.

Farallon Island Light can be viewed from wildlife cruises offered by the Oceanic Society. Phone (800) 326-7491. The programs are led by expert naturalists.

Mapquest URL: Click here to get a map to this lighthouse!

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Keepers: ? Greathouse (Coast Guard officer in charge, c. 1946-48); Russell Stockfleth (Coast Guard, c. 1946-48)

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