POINT REYES (KPIX 5) — After several months and nearly $6 million in renovations, the National Park Service says that the Point Reyes Lighthouse is finally going to be opened to the public this weekend.
It cost $5.7 million and was supposed to take only 9 month to complete, but once engineers opened up the nearly 150-year-old structure, Pt. Reyes Chief Park Archeologist Paul Engl says they found damage far greater than they imagined.
“We dismantled the entire lighthouse lantern, including the lens,” Engl said. “The lens has been in there since 1870.”
There are 1,032 individual crystal glass prisms, made in France, especially for this lighthouse. All of them have been carefully cleaned, reassembled and, for authenticity, cracked or chipped prisms are returned to their places.
A First Order Fresnel Lens that’s almost 10 feet high and 6 feet across.
But why did it cost $5.7 million?
“We had an amazing amount of specialist who had to come out and work on this project including Horologist, Lampist.” A horologist is somebody who is involved with the study of time, or in this case, “people who are experienced working with clockworks,” Engl said.
The surrounding buildings were also restored, including preservation of the early 1900s fog horns. During the process, they discovered an unexpected time capsule placed in a wall back from 1929 and several newspapers, including an old San Francisco Examiner.
“Just seeing the same issues that we face today, kinda represented in those headlines is pretty fascinating” Engl said.
One major feature remains. The stairs leading down to the lighthouse. Still steep, still long, equal to a 30 story building! Pt. Reyes Interpretive Ranger Carlo Arreglo described them as, “ It’s kinda like the Grand Canyon. It’s easy heading down(Laughs) [ I don’t know about that!] But going back up, going back up (big smile) can be uh, be pretty strenuous!”
The lighthouse will be open to the public on Friday.