Anacapa Island Lighthouse
Anacapa Island, off the coast of Santa Barbara
First lit: March 11, 1912
On March 11, 1912, a light on Anacapa Island was lit for the first time. However, it was no lighthouse, but an unmanned fifty-foot skeletal tower, with an acetylene lens on top. It wasn’t until March of 1932 that an actual lighthouse was constructed, the last major light station built on the West Coast.
The lighthouse at Anacapa Island was outfitted with a third order Fresnel Lens from the same manufacturer as the lens at Point Cabrillo: The Chance Brothers in England. Their lens had three bullseyes, and produced an interesting light pattern: 0.1 second of white light, 11.9 seconds of darkness, 0.1 second of light, 11.9 seconds of darkness, 0.1 second of light, and 35. 9 seconds of darkness.
In 1989, the Fresnel Lens was removed from the tower and placed in the visitor center on the island as a display. One lightkeeper from the 50’s remarked on seeing the lens on display while visiting forty years after his time as keeper on the island: “The multifaceted crystal lenses, bound in polished brass, are still among man’s most beautiful creations. A static display of a lighthouse lens in a museum, however, is similar to viewing an animal in a zoo. Once removed from its natural habitat it’s never quite the same. I get chills remembering foggy nights when the sweep of the powerful light flashed through the mist, illuminating a small part of the sky.”
The island became a national monument in 1938, and a national park in 1980. Today, you can take a charter out to Anacapa Island and see the lighthouse for yourself!