Donations from local organizations have finally netted the $100,000 needed to complete restorations on the 85-year-old "Eye of Diablo" beacon, which is lit Dec. 7 every year in honor of Pearl Harbor Day.
Earlier this month the 1,500-pound beacon was lifted off its perch to undergo much needed restoration but $12,000 was still needed to complete the repairs. Individuals have been sending in contributions since then, and the final $10,000 needed for repairs was donated from Chevron, which installed the aviation beacon in 1928 when it was known as Standard Oil.
"The scope and magnitude of the response to the beacon restoration effort have been overwhelming," said Ron Brown, Save Mount Diablo's executive director.
The Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation provided a $50,000 matching grant while other companies donated time and equipment.
The beacon is in serious disrepair and requires a variety of services including treatment for remediation of lead and asbestos as well as a cracked front lens. The bearings at the base of the beacon have never been serviced, and electrical connections and wiring will be renewed or repaired.
Volunteers will replace the lead-based paint peeling on the beacon and repaint the Eye with weather resistant paint.
Crews will need to repair the bare metal on the beacon, which been exposed to harsh summit conditions, as well as design new routes for the cables that run through the beacon's base. The red, blinking aircraft obstruction light will also be fixed.
Repairs being done include the following:
* Lamp (originally 1500 watt 32 volt incandescent bulb) will be replaced with a 1000 watt 120 volt bulb
* Remote control to turn the beacon on will be converted to a wireless unit
* Six to eight broken panes of the 12 pane segmented window will be replaced
* Sheet metal "doghouse" base of the beacon has rusted and will be replaced
Also a project analysis will be done to comply with the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works and the Secretary of the Interior's standards for the treatment of historic properties in order to maintain the historic integrity of the beacon.
Following legislation passed in July 2012, Save Mount Diablo is overseeing the beacon's restoration on behalf of California State Parks.
"In partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce, we built this beacon on the mountain in 1928 in support of the then-burgeoning aviation industry, and are pleased to provide the final contribution needed for its restoration," said Linda Padon, general manager of public policy and corporate responsibility for Chevron.
"The beacon restoration project has set a fantastic precedent for private, public and non-profit partnerships as many have come together to make sure this heartfelt symbol in the community can be restored despite continued State Park budget cuts," a release stated. "This project may set an example for more State Park partnerships with businesses and non-profits to continue to manage and maintain its parks."
Installed in 1928 by Standard Oil, the beacon was used by the likes of Charles Lindbergh and other pioneering aviators. The light was turned off in 1941 after the Pearl Harbor bombing to ensure the Japanese could not use it as a target and relit for the first time in 1964 as the centerpiece of a Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony.
"The beacon not only commemorates Pearl Harbor but is also a shining light to remind us of how precious our freedoms are and the responsibilities we have to one another, our community and future generations," said Brown.
The newly restored beacon will return to its perch atop Mount Diablo's summit building this fall.