Mount Diablo Beacon removed for repairs | June 14, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 14, 2013

Mount Diablo Beacon removed for repairs

1928 fixture overdue for maintenance

by Jessica Lipsky

The Eye of Diablo, in serious disrepair after years of neglect, was removed Tuesday from the summit building to begin renovation work in advance of the annual Pearl Harbor Day remembrance ceremony. The 85-year-old beacon atop Mount Diablo is lit every Dec. 7, and its light must be pushed by hand to begin rotation for the ceremony.

While retired ranger Burt Bogardus made sure the beacon worked each year, proper care and maintenance have not been done.

"This is the first step in being able to actually begin restoration work on the beacon so it will be restored for the Dec. 7 lighting," said Save Mount Diablo spokeswoman Beryl Anderson. "It may be the last couple of years that we have our local Pearl Harbor survivors around to turn the light on in commemoration of their fallen comrades."

Windy conditions at the Mount Diablo peak Tuesday almost stopped the lift-off, but crews managed to remove the beacon and get it down the mountain in about 45 minutes, as Pearl Harbor survivors and park rangers looked on.

A giant crane lifted the 1,500 pound beacon from its perch and transported it to a state-approved shop in Concord 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.

Legislation adopted in July 2012 waived contracting requirements for state park projects and allowed the nonprofit group Save Mount Diablo to provide volunteers and donations to make repairs under state supervision.

The following work will be done:

* Lamp (originally 1500 watt 32 volt incandescent bulb) will be replaced with a 1000 watt 120 volt bulb.

* Remote control to turn on the beacon will be converted to a wireless unit.

* Six to eight broken panes of the 12-pane segmented window will be replaced.

* Rusted sheet metal "doghouse" base will be replaced.

* Project analysis 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.

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 repaired.

The beacon was installed in 1928 by Standard Oil, and 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; it was relit for the first time in 1964 as the centerpiece of a Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony hosted by Save Mount Diablo and the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

The beacon restoration will cost approximately $100,000, with $38,000 donated by organizations and community members, then matched by the Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation. Save Mount Diablo needs another $12,000 to complete the beacon restoration project; find details on how to donate at

Once funds have been raised, the beacon will be placed back atop the summit building in the fall.


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