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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ghosts of Pigeon Point

Unless you subscribe to the Half Moon Bay Review, you may have missed the articles Book rises from wrecks and Ghosts of Pigeon Point's past still haunt the living about Jo Ann Semones' new book, Shipwrecks, Scalawags and Scavengers: The Storied Waters Of Pigeon Point from Glencannon Press. Just released in mid-November, it has yet to make it into a lot of library collections, and if you're waiting for Santa to bring you a copy, you can still learn a lot about Pigeon Point in the meantime.

Start with Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park's website, and consider visiting. Although the lighthouse suffered damage in 2002 that forced its closure to the public, the grounds are still open with regular tours, and the lighthouse keeper's residence is restored and operated as a hostel. January through April is the annual migration of the gray whale, 100 yards north of the Point are tidepools, and nearby are ancient redwoods, the Pescadero Marsh, and the Año Nuevo State Reserve where enormous elephant seals breed.

For armchair travel, start with the official park brochure, which contains a lot of historical information such as the source of the name, "In June 1853 the Boston based Carrier Pigeon, on her maiden voyage, was torn apart by a fog-blanketed rock off Whale Point. Thereafter, it was called Pigeon Point," as well as natural history. Your local library may already have an older book, The history of Pigeon Point Lighthouse by Frank Perry. Also, Daily Alta newspaper articles from 1853 about the wreck of the Carrier Pigeon have been posted at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary's Shipwreck Database.

Why are we continually drawn to these ghosts--to the stories of these people and vessels? Consider when the last vessel was wrecked at Pigeon Point: last week.

Image from the U.S. Coast Guard's California Light Stations website.

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