The Eye of Diablo is in serious disrepair after years of neglect. On June 11, repair crews removed the beacon from the summit building to begin renovation work in advance of the annual Pearl Harbor Day remembrance ceremony.
At 85 years old, the Mount Diablo beacon is lit on Dec. 7 every year in honor of Pearl Harbor Day and its light must be pushed by hand in order to begin rotation for the annual ceremony. While retired ranger Burt Bogardus made sure the beacon worked each year, proper care and maintenance have not been done, Save Mount Diablo said in a release.
"People were really excited, very hopeful. This is the first step in being able to actually begin restoration work on the beacon so it will be restored for the December 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 peak almost stopped the lift-off, but crews managed to remove the beacon and get it down the mountain in about 45 minutes. Pearl Harbor survivors, park rangers and local media were invited to attend the event.
Legislation adopted in July 2012 waived the typical contracting requirements used for state park projects and allowed Save Mount Diablo to provide volunteers and donations to make long-needed repairs under state supervision.
A giant crane lifted the 1,500 pound beacon from its perch and took 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.
Among the needed repairs are:
* 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
* 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 properly 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 antennae cables that run through the beacon's base. The red, blinking aircraft obstruction light will also be repaired.
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 hosted by Save Mount Diablo and the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
The beacon restoration will cost approximately $100,000 in necessary equipment and services. $38,000 has been donated by various 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; details on how to donate can be found at the Save Mount Diablo website.
Once funds have been raised to complete the restoration work,the beacon will be placed back atop the summit building this fall.