Since it is Spring and the restoration of the New Point Loma Lighthouse has been completed, we thought this story, contributed by Karen Scanlon and Kim Fahlen, about the resurrection of the Fresnel lens H-L 330 was appropriate. Enjoy.
In custom pine boxes—not unlike primitive coffins—rests a Fresnel lens ordered in the mid-1880s for San Diego’s new lighthouse. But this elusive lighthouse lens, given the number H-L 330 by its Parisian manufacturer, Henry-Lepaute, never served its intended destination. ‘Showman’ par excellence, a misfit, and ultimately discarded as surplus, it appears that H-L 330 was delivered to the West Coast twice!
The U.S. Light House Board of 1882 had begun to act on the realization that the lighthouse on Point Loma, 422 feet above the sea, was dangerous. Fog and low cloud too often obscured its light from ever-increasing maritime activity at San Diego. A lighthouse closer to the sea was urgent, but the government must, then, bear the expense of two new light stations. By March 1891, a harbor light at Ballast Point and a lighthouse at the lower tip of Point Loma (with a focal plane of just 88 feet above sea level) were in operation.