The sinking of the steamer Brother Jonathan in 1865 just north of Crescent City, Calif., resulted in a change of steamship shipping laws and the construction of the St. George Reef Lighthouse, one of the most costly and dangerous lighthouses in the United States.
More than 250 passengers and crew were aboard the steamer when it crashed into a rock just north of Crescent City. Only 19 survived.
Two years later a decision was made to build a lighthouse on the Saint George Reef, also known as the “Dragon Rocks.” It took years of studies to determine the best site and many more years to build it on Seal Rock at a cost of $704,000. It opened in 1891 and closed in 1975. Five keepers lost their lives on duty there.
The Saint George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society has been making repairs for several years and plans to open the site for tours this fall. Between November and April, helicopters will daily carry visitors six miles offshore to the historic lighthouse.
Sources: "Brief History." Official Website of the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society, SGRLPS, Adventures of Shadow® and Odonnell Entertainment® , 5 Jan. 2017, www.stgeorgereeflighthouse.us/. Accessed 11 May 2017; Powers, Dennis. "Brother Jonathan (ship)." The Oregon Encyclopedia, Portland State University and Oregon Historical Society, 2017, https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/brother_jonathan_ship_/#.WRTQvtIrJPY. Accessed 11 May 2017; Reed, Tony. Return To The Reef, edited by Robin Fornoff, Del Norte Triplicate, 6 May 2017, www.triplicate.com/news/5284965-151/return-to-the-reef. Accessed 9 May 2017; Del Norte County Historical Society. Images of America: Crescent City & Del Norte County. Charleston, SC, Arcadia Publishing, 2005, pp. 14-16, 19-21.