Situated on a tiny, wave-swept rock six miles off the coast near Crescent City, St. George Reef Lighthouse is a dramatic piece of living history and a monument to the dedication and sacrifices of the courageous men who built, maintained and operated it. The site for the lighthouse, first dubbed the “Dragon Rocks” in 1792, was chosen following the wreck of the Brother Jonathan in 1865, in which hundreds perished.
It took almost 10 years to build the lighthouse and get it operational. It saw service from 1892 until 1975, and in 1996 the decommissioned lighthouse was leased by the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society, whose goal is to restore it to working condition. In March of 2012 it was once again activated, and today serves as a private aid to navigation.
2016 marks the 30th year since the founding of the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society and the start of restoration work. The restoration and maintenance were funded primarily by helicopter flights to the remote rock for about 16 years, but for the past four years flights were halted while new upgrades could be made to the helicopter landing area. Flights are expected to resume in November of 2017. Helicopter tours depart the local airport, and land atop the caisson at the foot of the tower. During a one-hour tour of the structure visitors learn about the history of the lighthouse, the reef, and lighthouses in general. Tours are dependent upon the weather, and can be changed at the last moment due to unstable flying conditions.
Be sure to check the flight schedule. If you cannot make a flight and tour, you might consider stopping by the Del Norte County Museum, on the corner of 5th and H Streets, which is also home to a large collection of artifacts from the lighthouse, 707-464-3922.