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Still shining at Crescent City.

WHEN YOU LIVE IN A lighthouse, you get a lot of company," says Nadine Tugel, who, with her husband, Jerry, lives in and maintains the Battery Point Light in Crescent City, California, about 20 miles south of the Oregon border on U.S. Highway 101.

The 1856 stone and masonry structure is one of the finest examples of original lighthouses on the Pacific Coast. The keepers and the Del Norte County Historical Society, which took over the lighthouse after it was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1965, have maintained the building with loving care.

Access isn't simple. At low tide, you walk out over a spit of sand and rock to the lighthouse's island home. To ease the way, huge rocks were recently cleared and a new concrete ramp and sidewalk were built, thanks to a Coastal Conservancy grant. At the same time, buildings were spruced up and repainted.

On half-hour tours (given as the Tugels' time permits) you'll learn how the light guarded what once was one of the most active harbors between San Francisco and Portland. The beacon alerted ships to treacherous rocks at the harbor mouth and to the dangerous Point St. George Reef nearby. In 1982, the light was reactivated as a privately operated aid to navigation.

Today, fishing boats navigating the harbor still rely on the light. Nonetheless, shipwrecks still occur. "There have been 280 shipwrecks registered off this coast. Since living here and watching this coast, I have a lot more respect for the fish I see in the market and the people who get it there," Nadine Tugel says.

Tours visit the lantern room upstairs. A small museum downstairs houses a magnificent Fourth Order Fresnel lens, artifacts, and pictures of hundreds of lighthouses worldwide. Outside, picnic tables afford a fine view of Battery Point.

The lighthouse is open from 10 to 4 Wednesdays through Sundays from April through September, weather and tide permitting.

Admission costs $2, 50 cents for ages under 12. No dogs are allowed, and there are no rest rooms. The parking lot for the lighthouse is at the foot of A Street. Wear sturdy shoes for the short walk to the island.

North of the lighthouse along Pebble Beach Drive, pullouts provide good views of seabirds and sea lions that frequent rocks near shore.

NEARBY, AN AID STATION FOR SEALS AND SEA LIONS

Just a few blocks from the lighthouse is the new Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, quartered in a small but handsome structure. This hospital for rehabilitating rescued marine mammals is one of the few such centers built to accommodate seals and sea lions, with specially designed operating tables, pools, and feeding stations.

You can view the animals in residence or wander through the gift shop (items for sale range from dolphin earrings to whale books and seal posters). The center is at 424 Howe Drive. It's open 10 to 5 Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 to 6 daily in summer.
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Title Annotation:California
Author:Finnegan, Lora J.
Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:492
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