Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2017

A Step Back in Time at Old Point Loma

By Timothy Harrison


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This photo, discovered by C.W. “Duke” Cox in an old family album, shows his father, Clifford Cox (wearing the hat) with an unidentified person, in 1915 on their stopover at the abandoned Old Point Loma Lighthouse while on their way to or from attending the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, California. “Duke” Cox donated the photo to the archives of the U.S. Lighthouse Society who shared it with us.

The Panama-California Exposition was held to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal and to tout San Diego as the first U.S. port of call for ships travelling north after passing westward through the canal.

Clifford Cox might have met or seen one of the many notable people who attended the Exposition, such as Vice President Thomas R. Marshall, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, inventor Thomas A. Edison, businessman Henry Ford, and former presidents William Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt. Even the famous Liberty Bell was transported from Philadelphia for display at the Exposition.

Built in 1855, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse was discontinued 1891 for a new and taller structure that became known as the New Point Loma Lighthouse. The old lighthouse was abandoned to the elements, as is clearly shown in this photograph.

In 1933 the property was officially turned over to the National Park Service, and in 1935 the lighthouse was restored. During World War II, the lighthouse was painted camouflage green and used as a signal tower to help guide ships into San Diego Harbor.

During the 1980s, the lighthouse underwent a major restoration and was furnished with antique furniture to resemble the time when Robert D. Israel lived there as a keeper from 1871 to 1891.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2017 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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