People of the Parks: Lighthouse Keepers
Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, George D. Cobb Fort Point Lighthouse Keeper's Photographs, GOGA 19555
The Alcatraz Lighthouse was first constructed in 1853, and rebuilt in 1909 after it was damaged in the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Lighthouse Keeper Underhill Van Wagner lived with his family in the keepers' residence at the base of the lighthouse from 1856 to 1862. His annual salary was $1,100. Benjamin F. Leeds served as Lighthouse Keeper from 1888 to 1905. During his service he erected a two-foot high wall around the keepers' quarters, which he filled with soil and planted trees and flowers.
Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, Cheryl Vosicka Photographs, GOGA 18211
During the 1920s and 1930s, the last crew to serve at the Fort Point Light Station included George Douglas Cobb, Lighthouse Keeper; Mr. Jordan, 1st Assistant; and Leslie George McKay, 2nd Assistant. All crew members were responsible for an eight-hour shift and they shared the station duties equally. Each man lived with his family in one of the keepers' quarters just south of the fort.
Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, Cheryl Vosicka Photograph Collection, GOGA 18211
The second half of the 20th century brought much advancement in electrification. Lighthouses across the country were automated, making the job of lighthouse keeper obsolete. The keepers' diligence in tending the guiding lights of the Golden Gate remains a special part of the GGNRA's story.
Lighthouse Keepers - Panel (pdf 6.6 MB)
Did You Know?
Serpentine soils are home to many rare and endangered plants because they lack nutrients and contain metals toxic to plants--conditions that have led to special adaptations in the plants that can survive on them.