A State-of-the-Art Lighthouse in California Begins Operations

March 25, 1932

The Anacapa Island Lighthouse on the entrance to Santa Barbara Channel – a section of the Pacific Ocean between the Southern California coast and the northern Channel Islands – made its debut. Anacapa Island is actually a chain of three small islets; the lighthouse was built on the easternmost islet, which is a mile (1.6 kilometers) in length and 250 feet (76.2 meters) above the water. One of the lighthouse’s keepers, Frederick Cobb, was the first to light the Fresnel lens at the top of the new structure.  

The next day’s edition of the California-based Oxnard Daily Courier reported, “A new lighthouse, the titan of the lighthouses on the Pacific coast, shone forth on the Ventura county coast last night when the new Anacapa light blazed at sundown.” This lighthouse replaced a 50-foot (15.2-meter)-tall unmanned metal tower that had been built on the tip of the islet in 1911 to serve as a beacon on a temporary basis. 

The new 39-foot (11.9-meter)-tall cylindrical concrete lighthouse, which was constructed instead on the islet’s highest point, featured a variety of state-of-the art technologies to enable it to help effectively guide vessels through the Santa Barbara Channel. The technologies included, along with the Fresnel lens (the most advanced of its kind at the time), a radio compass to automatically give nearby vessels their position.  

“Besides its value to both trans-Pacific and coastal vessel traffic, the new lighthouse pays high tribute to modern engineering skill,” reported the Indiana-based Hammond Lake County Times. “Great difficulties were encountered in the construction, first in landing supplies and materials and then in getting them up the sheer cliffs to the upper part of the island where the lighthouse was to be built.” The structure was the last major light station built on the west coast, and it remains an active aid to navigation today.

For more information on the Anacapa Island Lighthouse, please check out Anacapa Island Light – Wikipedia

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