Near the Oregon border at Crescent City, Battery Point Light was first lit in 1856, long before the Spanish had influence on the architectural design of the region. Since then, the structure has weathered many changes including automation in 1953 and a tidal wave that flooded the peninsula in 1964.
In the 1850s, lumber was being harvested in Northern California and sent south to build the rapidly growing city of San Francisco. Crescent City was a hub of lumber shipping, and many ships loaded with precious lumber were in danger on the rocky coast. The station's first official keeper was Theophilus Magruder, who arrived at Battery Point on Christmas Day in 1856, thus the origin of the light's local name as "the Christmas light." Magruder was a sophisticated Easterner who was drawn to the west coast by the promise of gold.
Captain John Jeffrey and his wife Nellie took over the station in 1875 and stayed there for 39 years. The location was a trial for the Jeffreys family, and Captain John sometimes had to get out a boat and row the children to shore so they could attend school. The family's difficulties didn't end there, either. In 1879, a huge wave knocked down the kitchen wall, knocked over a lighted stove and the house would have burned down if it weren't for a second wave that put out the fire.
In 1964, the earthquake that stuck Alaska sent a tidal wave toward the Battery Point Light that threatened to finally destroy it, but the light and its keepers were spared because the wave struck at an extreme angle that protected the structure. Crescent City was not quite so lucky, though, as 29 city blocks were destroyed.
Accessible by foot only at low tide, Battery Point is currently a Maritime Museum and is operated by Del Norte County. The Cape Cod structure built of brick and granite offers visitors a look at the maritime history of the region and gives great insight to the life of a light Keeper. Worn from storms and tidal waves, this 45 foot tower and attached lean-to still function today as an important navigational aid to seaward travelers along the northern Pacific coast.
The light is reputed to house a resident ghost, seen by at least six different people, who have heard its sea-booted feet slowly climbing the tower steps during storms.
Visiting Battery Point Lighthouse
Access to the light does depend upon the tide, thus making it important to call ahead (707) 464-3089. To learn more about visiting the Battery Point Lighthouse, visit the Del Norte County website.
Battery Point is located in Crescent City, just a few miles south of the Oregon border. Go west from US 101 on Front Street, then left onto A Street.