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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cambria in San Luis Obispo County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens

 
 
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 5, 2013
1. Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens Marker
Inscription. This first order fresnel lens was manufactured in 1850 in France by Henry LaPaute. The clock mechanism was built in 1872 and the lens you see here was installed atop the lighthouse at Piedras Blancas in 1874.

In 1949 the lens was removed from the lighthouse when an aero-beacon was installed. At that time, through the efforts of Byron Boisen, Eddie Shaug, Guy Bond and Roland Houtz of the Cambria Lions Club, the lens was moved to the Lions Pinedorado Gounds.

During 1990-1994 the lens was renovated and the new lantern room and walkways were constructed on this site under the leadership of the Friends of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens.
 
Erected 1996 by Friends of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens.
 
Location. 35° 33.904′ N, 121° 5.825′ W. Marker is in Cambria, California, in San Luis Obispo County. Marker is on Main Street near Cambria Road, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 980 Main Street, Cambria CA 93428, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cambria Veterans' Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Nitt Witt Ridge (approx. 0.2 miles
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 5, 2013
2. Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens Marker
The marker is the center top of the five plaques.
away); Preserving a Bit of History (approx. 0.9 miles away); The Town of Harmony (approx. 5.7 miles away); Sebastian Store (approx. 7.6 miles away); Point Piedras Blancas, A Recent Colony (approx. 11.3 miles away); Home of Capt. James Cass (approx. 13.4 miles away); Cayucos by the Sea (approx. 13.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cambria.
 
Also see . . .
1. Piedras Blancas Light Station. (Submitted on March 18, 2015, by James King of San Miguel, California.)
2. Fresnel Lens - Explain That Stuff. (Submitted on March 18, 2015, by James King of San Miguel, California.)
 
Categories. Man-Made FeaturesWaterways & Vessels
 
The Bing Boisen Memorial Lighthouse Lens Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 5, 2013
3. The Bing Boisen Memorial Lighthouse Lens Plaque
In more that 50 years of service to the Community of Cambria, Bing was a leader who left his mark throughout our village.
A lasting legacy was his dedication to the preservation of this lighthouse lens from the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse.
Destined to be destroyed after abandonment by the Coast Guard in 1949, Bing together with Eddie Shaug, Guy Bond, and Roland Houtz was the leader in bringing the lens to Cambria for the enjoyment and education of all who come here.

Byron “Bing” Boisen 1908 – 2001

Friends of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens
In Appreciation of Those Who Made This Restoration Possible Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 5, 2013
4. In Appreciation of Those Who Made This Restoration Possible Plaque
Cambria Lions Club • United States Coast Guard • Dora and Bob Lane • Rose and Ted Wadsley • Alex Lazarevich • Lou Ann and Bob Carter • Jerry McKinnon • Chris Crawford • Dorothy and Norman Plamer • Dorothy and Cecil Hawthorne • Jacqueline and John Tays • Cambria Rotary Club • Bil Mahoney • Vanna and Del Clegg • Susan and Roger Lyon • Mid-State Bank • Harry Jones • County of San Luis Obispo • General Electric • Anny Loveless • Louise and John Kemak • Edward P. Boyle • Lloyd Gracey • Lyn and Aaron Baker • John Condon • Frank Kimsey • Diana and Paul Turner • Richard Jorgensen • In Memory of Tony Williams, a Cambria Native • American Legion Post #432 • Kosakura and Associates • Katherine and Bill Avey • Thomas J. Alexander • Barbara A. Lee • Janet and Elvin Tinkham

Friends of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens 1996
In Addition We Also Thank the Following For Their Help in Making This Restoration Possible Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 5, 2013
5. In Addition We Also Thank the Following For Their Help in Making This Restoration Possible Plaque
Cookie Crock Market Employees and Family • Ruth and Roy Hammond • Ray Siegele • Judy and Mike Levy • A-C Electric Company • Tom Alexander In Memoriam • Robert W. Huntington • Nickolas F. Deurloo II and Erik Helleskov • ‘Rich and Bobra” • Robert A. Blair • Dale and Mary Lee Cooper & Family • John Whitlock • Jodaco • David Whitlock • In Memory of Harold W. Clark and In Memory of ‘Jake” Compherrr Friends of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens 1997
In Memory of Those Whose Efforts Helped Preserve This Historic Landmark Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 5, 2013
6. In Memory of Those Whose Efforts Helped Preserve This Historic Landmark Plaque
Cecil Hawthorne • Jim Taylor • Jack Serrand • Ted Wadsley • Eliot Kontoff

Friends of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens 2003
Piedras Blancas Fresnel Lens image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 5, 2013
7. Piedras Blancas Fresnel Lens
Rotating Mechanism for the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 5, 2013
8. Rotating Mechanism for the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 5, 2013
9. Piedras Blancas Lighthouse
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens Informational Sign image. Click for full size.
By James King, January 4, 2015
10. Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens Informational Sign
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Lens

This First Order Fresnel Lens is among the largest of a type invented in 1823 by French physicist and Augustin Fresnel (frey-NEL).
Our lens was made in Paris by Henry Le Paute in 1872. The delicate glass pieces were shipped around Cape Horn in southern Chile, a journey of several months over rough seas.
This lens, which is ten feet tall (305cm) and weighs several tons, was assembled and installed in the Piedras Blancas Light Tower in 1874, beginning service in February 1875.
Hundreds of glass prisms concentrated light into a thin beam that could be seen more than 20 nautical miles (32km) in clear weather. Oil lanterns were used until electricity became available here in the 1920s.
Fresnel lenses rotated, flashing light in a unique pattern called a characteristic that identified each lighthouse to ships at sea.
Fresnel lenses became widely used in lighthouses along the sea coasts of Europe and North America, and are still used today in traffic lights, projectors and plastic magnifying sheets.
The U.S. Coast Guard removed the lens from the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse lantern room in 1949 after an earthquake damaged the light tower.
The lens was slated for destruction, but was saved by the Cambria Lions Club.
Lions Club members and community volunteers contributed their labor and financial support to relocate and reconstruct the lens – refinishing its brass fittings, polishing the glass prisms, retooling the machinery, repainting the housing and constructing the lantern room.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 12, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 474 times since then and 72 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on September 12, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.   10. submitted on March 18, 2015, by James King of San Miguel, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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