Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Largest Wave To Ever Hit The West Coast US

Tonight I decided to see the sunset downtown. I had forgotten that the lighthouse has a light in it.  It is not a beacon but does show the original glass lens.

According to the Trinidad Civic Club: On December 31, 1914, the lighthouse was struck by the highest wave to ever strike the West Coast. The wave extinguished the light 196’ above sea level. The light was returned to service in 4 hours by Light keeper F.L. Harrington, keeper 1888-1916.

The photo is of a replica light house that houses the original Fresnel lens that was replaced by an electric beacon in 1947.

Read more about the history of the Trinidad Lighthouse


  1. I should point out that the original lighthouse was on the south west edge of Trinidad Head as seen in the background of the picture.

    Almost 200 feet above sea level and a wave splashed out the light.

  2. WTF ever...1914, remember. Drunk-and-probably-stoned-off-his-ass lighthouse keeper spills beer all over the lamp and kills it, resuling in an easy coverup story needed by all parties involved in maintaining the lighthouse...who were also all drunk and/or stoned off their asses. I'd like to think Lighthouse Keeping has always been one of those jobs where they don't take themselves too seriously. Keep the light on, that's really all there is to it.

  3. From Lighthouse Friends dot com
    The storm commenced on December 28, 1914, blowing a gale that night. The gale continued for a whole week and was accompanied by a very heavy sea from the southwest. On the 30th and 31st, the sea increased and at 3 p.m. on the 31st seemed to have reached its height, when it washed a number of times over (93-foot-high) Pilot Rock, a half mile south of the head. At 4:40 p.m., I was in the tower and had just set the lens in operation and turned to wipe the lantern room windows when I observed a sea of unusual height, then about 200 yards distant, approaching. I watched it as it came in. When it struck the bluff, the jar was very heavy, and the sea shot up to the face of the bluff and over it, until the solid sea seemed to me to be on a level with where I stood in the lantern. Then it commenced to recede and the spray went 25 feet or more higher. The sea itself fell over onto the top of the bluff and struck the tower on about a level with the balcony, making a terrible jar. The whole point between the tower and the bluff was buried in water. The lens immediately stopped revolving and the tower was shivering from the impact for several seconds.
    Whether the lens was thrown off level by the jar on the bluff, or the sea striking the tower, I could not say. Either one would have been enough. However, I had it leveled and running in half an hour. About an hour later another sea threw spray up on the level of the bluff, and the constant jars of the heavy sea was much over normal during the night and the whole of the next day. On the 3rd, the sea moderated to some extent, but a strong southeast wind and high sea continued until the 5th. During the 26 years that I have been stationed here, there has at no time been a sea of any such size as that of the 31st experienced here: but once during that time have I know the spray to come onto the bluff in front of the tower, and but twice have I seen sea or spray go over Pilot Rock.

    Although Harrington had the lens leveled and running in just thirty minutes, who knows how long it took for him to recover from that experience.


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