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Mare Island, CA  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Mare Island Lighthouse

1857 — Representations have been made that a light is necessary between the bays of Monterey and San Francisco, and one on Mare island, in San Francisco bay. The latter is recommended mainly in consideration of the difficulties at night in approaching the navy yard and Benicia. Plans and estimates have been prepared, and can be laid before Congress should it desire them.

1871 – Mare Island, entrance to the. Straits of Carquines, California.—An appropriation of $10,000 is recommended for the erection of a fifth-order Light at this point, to mark the approaches to Carqnines Straits. The erection of a Light-house at this point has been strongly urged for many years.

1872 – Entrance to the Straits of Karquines, California.—An appropriation of $20,000, approved June 10,1872, was made for the erection of a light-house and fog-signal to mark the entrance to the Straits of Karquines. A site on the southern shore, opposite Mare Island, having been recommended by the local officers and others, surveys were made there, but none suitable was found, and the engineer of the district has been ordered to locate the light on the southern end of Mare Island.

1873 – Mare Island, entrance to Straits of Karquines.—The light-house of this station was completed by the 15th of July, although it was not quite ready for lighting at that date. An attempt was made to obtain water by digging a well, but without success. The point south of the dwelling was cut down and graded, a retaining-wall, built of rock to above high-water mark, forming a plateau for fog-signal. Inclines have been constructed from this plateau and from the plane of the dwelling to the boat-landing; windlasses, provided with turn-table and car, were set up on each. The erection of the necessary building for the fog-bell, and the sinking of a well for the weight of the machinery, still remains to be done. A substantial picket-fence bad been erected along the lines of the light house reservation from the precipitous bluff on the east to that on the west

1874 – Extreme eastern end of Mare Island, at entrance from San Pablo Bay to the Straits of Karquines, California. Lighted: September 1, 1873. 1874 -448. Mare Island, Strait of Karquines, California.—The fog-bell and machinery formerly in use at Point Bonita light-station has been removed to this station, where a suitable house has been built for it.

1875 – Mare Island, Straits of Karquines, California.—Repairs have been made at this station, consisting of a strong stone sea-wall to protect the fog-bell tower. The foundation of this tower needs strengthening; this work will be done as soon as practicable.

1877 – Mare Island, San Pablo Bay, California.—A water-tank of 15,000 gallons capacity has been delivered at this station, and the dwelling, tower, and outhouses thoroughly renovated and repainted. Everything pertaining to this station is now in excellent condition.

1879 – There are also fog-bells at the following stations: One at Fort Point light-station, one at Mare Island light-station, and one at Alcatraz Island light-station.

1880 – Mare Island, entrance from San Pablo Bay to Karquines Straits, California.—The Hains mineral-oil lamp was substituted for the Funck float lard-oil lamp, in the lens apparatus, and mineral oil is now used at this station. The water tank was repaired and repainted; the tramway and windlass, by which supplies are hauled up from the beach landing, were renewed; the roads leading to the station were repaired, and the fog-bell house was repaired. The station is now in good condition.

1881 – Mare Island, at the extreme eastern end of Mare Island, at the entrance from San Pablo Bay to the Straits of Karquinez, California.—During the year slight repairs and renovations were made to the several structures. In February last, during a heavy rain storm, much damage was done to the roadway and to the fences. This damage was repaired.

1883 – Mare Island, on the eastern end of Mare Island, at the entrance from San Pablo Bay to the Straits of Karquines, California.—Patent galvanized-iron tops were fitted to the chimneys of the keeper's dwelling, a footbridge was thrown over a ravine near the dwelling, and the barn and roadway were repaired. Various minor repairs were made. The station is now in good condition.

1884 – Mare Island, on eastern end of Mare Island, at entrance from San Pablo Bay to the Straits of Karquinez, California.—A new set of Stevens machinery for striking the fog-bell was set up, since when it has been striking satisfactorily. Various minor repairs were made, and the station is now in good condition, with slight exceptions.

1886 – Mare Island Light-Station—at the entrance from San Pablo Bay to the Straits of Karquines, California. The keeper reports that one light shock of earthquake occurred at that place on October 15, one-half minute past 10 p. m., according to Mare Island navy-yard time. It lasted about two seconds. The keeper recognized this occurrence as an earthquake, as she had observed many in California and during a residence of two years and a half in Japan. This shock was described as a tremor or jar coming vertically. There was no swinging motion of chandeliers or pictures, only a sudden tremor.

The keeper reports another earthquake on the night of January 19, 1887, at 10.25 p. m. It was observed by the keeper while in the house, upstairs, lying down reading. It occurred at 10.25 p. m. exactly, Mare Island navy-yard time, and lasted about two seconds. No noise was observed. It consisted of one sudden shock, very light comparatively. A sudden jar would best describe the motion.

1888 – Mare Island, on the southern end of Mare Island entrance to Straits of Karquines, California. —A new barn and shed were built and various minor repairs were made.

1889 – Mare Island, California.—This signal, a bell struck by machinery, was in operation 133 hours.

1889 – Mare Island, entrance to Straits of Karquines, California.—A dam 13 feet long and 7 feet high was built across a canyon and a space cemented back for 15 feet, forming quite a water-catchment area. The water is filtered through gravel and conducted by a pipe to the cisterns. A new one has been added, giving a supply of water which is deemed adequate for all demands.

1890 – Mare Island, California.—This signal, a bell struck by machinery, was in operation 41 hours.

1890 – Mare Island, entrance to Straits of Karquines, California.—The water supply is insufficient and should be increased by the construction of a water-shed area of 3,000 square feet. The heavy rains of the winter considerably damaged the roads and fences; these were repaired, the kitchen roof was reshingled, and slight repairs were made to the dwellings and out-houses.

1891 – Mare Inland, entrance to Karquines Strait, California.—An area for a watershed was cleared and cemented, and pipe connections were made between it and the cisterns. The water supply should now be ample.

1892 – Mare Island, entrance to Straits of Karquines, California.—A hand winch for hoisting supplies was erected and an iron chimney was renewed. A dormer window was put in the roof. A bathroom was provided and hot and cold water led into it and into the kitchen. A landing wharf was built. The approach, 20 feet wide, starts from the southerly point of the island and extends into the bay 128 feet where it joins a T head 30 by 60 feet in plan, making the outer end 158 feet from the shore, in a depth of water of about 8 feet at low tide.

1893 – Mare Island, entrance to Karquinez Straits, California.—During the high tides of this spring, the waves, driven by a high wind, surmounted and cut in behind the wall at the shore end of the wharf, cutting out the wall for a long distance and undermining the fog bell house, which stood just inside the wall. The damage was repaired by building a new wall containing 70 cubic yards of rubble masonry laid in cement mortar. The old bell-house was taken down; the bell was removed to the outer end of the wharf where a house was built to cover it. A tramway about 200 feet long was built from the wharf up the hill to the dwelling. A new floor was laid in the kitchen and repairs were made to the front porch.

1896 – Mare Island, entrance to Karquinez Strait from San Pablo Bay, California.—The water supply is inadequate. The station was therefore connected with the water system of Vallejo by a pipeline 7,000 feet in length, 1,450 feet of which is laid under the bay. The greatest depth of water encountered was 54 feet. The flow of water at the station is now 1,000 gallons per hour. Various repairs were made.

1897 – Mare Island, entrance to Karquines Strait from San Pablo Bay, California.—A fence was built along the roadway to the station and from the end of the reservation to the bluff. A ladder and 100 feet of 1-inch fire hose were supplied. Various repairs were made.

1898 – Mare Island, entrance to Karquines Straits, California.—The pipe through which the water supply was conveyed crossed the straits from Vallejo to a point on the island near the Magazine wharf. It has given trouble owing to constant breaks, mostly by being fouled by the anchors of vessels, and finally it was so badly injured and moved out of place that it would have had to be entirely renewed if it was to be reestablished. At this time the naval authorities had just finished laying a large main connecting the navy-yard with the Vallejo waterworks, and permission was obtained to connect the light-station with the navy yard supply. This was done by laying a 2-inch pipe from the lighthouse main to that of the navy-yard over a distance of about 2,000 feet This arrangement insures a constant water supply. Fourth-order lamps were installed. Various repairs were made.

1899 – Mare Island, entrance to Karquinez Straits, California.—The pipe line was slightly altered to prevent impure water from the navy yard reservoir from entering the light-house supply. Two eucalyptus trees were removed to prevent their roots from injuring the masonry of the cistern.

1904 – Mare Island, entrance to Karquines Strait, San Pablo Bay, California.—A new fence was built around the reservation and a horsepower winch was erected at the head of the tramway to raise supplies from the wharf. Various repairs were made.

1906 – Mare Island, entrance to Karquines Strait, San Pablo Bay, California.—The fourth-order lens injured by the earthquake was repaired by resetting the loose prisms and replacing the braces. Three chimneys, also damaged by the earthquake, were rebuilt to the level of the roof pitch and finished out with galvanized-iron tops. Various repairs were made.

1907 – Mare Island, entrance to Carquinez Strait, San Pablo Bay, California.—Repairs to the lens at this station were made. A fog-bell striking apparatus was installed, replacing an old one.

1917 - Fourth-order light discontinued. Bell operated by machinery discontinued.


  • Head: Theresa C. Watson (1873 – 1881), Kate C. McDougal (1881 – 1917).
  • Assistant/Laborer: H.D. Tuttle (1873 – 1875), Thomas Hogan (1875), Miss Z.M. Watson (1876 – 1879), Martin Conneally (1900 – 1904), John P. Silva (1904), Caroline M. McDougal (1908), James Murphy (1904), George Grosskurth (1904), Milton E. Sairtz (1905 – 1906), Edward J. Decker (1906 – 1907), Robert K. McDonald (1907), George Griesbach (1907), Alex McCall (1907), Ray O'Brien (1907), Edward Hussey (1907), Robert F. McGuire (1907), Angus Murray (1907 – 1917).

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