Thursday, October 20, 2016

Low-tide walk to Battery Point Lighthouse islet


Battery Point Lighthouse islet at low tide

The Battery Point Lighthouse is located on a rocky islet off Battery Point in Crescent City, California. The islet is connected to Battery Point by an isthmus that becomes visible and crossable at low tide (see picture above). With rising sea level, the daily time window for walking across without getting wet will narrow. When the lighthouse was built in 1856, the islet may have been a peninsula most of the time, only shortly disconnected from the mainland.

A posted flier summarizes the early history of the light station:

Battery Point Lighthouse was built in 1856 at the cost of $15,000. It was the 10th Lighthouse built on the west coast and is one of the 16 Cape Cod style lighthouses that were built in the 1800's. At that time, it was known as the Crescent City Light Station.

The lighthouse played a major role to develop and sustain the coastal economy by sea travel.  For almost one hundred years, the lighthouse was manned:

The first keeper was Theophilus Magruder. He started Christmas Day, 1856. The last keeper was Wayne R. Piland, who served at the time of automation and was transferred in 1953.

The picturesque lighthouse is now a California Registered Historical Landmark. It is well preserved. With donations and Coastal Conservancy funding, the tower was restored in 1987. Further restoration work was done in 2012 as a cooperative project of the County of Del Norte and the Del Norte Historical Society.
Battery Point Lighthouse tower

Around the lighthouse you can find spots to view and explore intertidal and marine life. Plovers, sandpipers and willets feed on invertebrates exposed at low tides. An interpretive panel is getting you focused on tidepools:
Walking along the coast at low tide, you might at first miss the incredible variety of organisms that make their home here. Stop, scan the rock walls and quiet pools, and you will begin to see things move. Formed in rocky depressions, tidepools retain enough water at low tide to shelter an abundance of marine life: snails, urchins, anemones, crabs, sea stars, nudibranches, limpets, and many other.

As you are scanning the ocean from the lighthouse islet, you will see smaller islets, sea stacks and rocks. They support rich marine habitats, but turn the coast into a dangerous environment for navigation—even during daylight with the lighthouse tower and harbor entry in view.  

Offshore rocks near Battery Point

Getting to the Battery Point Lighthouse
From Highway 101 in Crescent City, turn west on Front Street. Turn left on B Street or on Lighthouse Way at the Oceanfront Lodge and find parking. Follow the smell of the sea and check out the wave and tide situation to safely walk to and back from the light house.  

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