Saturday, 16 July 2011

Point Bonita Lighthouse, CA, USA

I've recently joined two other swap sites in addition to Postcrossing: sendsomething and Swap-bot. I think I'll mostly stick to Postcrossing in the future, though, because these sites are a bit confusing (Swap-bot in particular) and I haven't been overly impressed with some of the cards I've received. There have been exceptions, though, my favourite being this gorgeous lighthouse postcard I received via sendsomething last month.

Point Bonita Lighthouse is located at Point Bonita at the San Francisco Bay entrance in the Marin Headlands near Sausalito, California. Point Bonita was the last manned lighthouse on the California coast.

The original Point Bonita Lighthouse, a 17 m brick tower, was located too high. Unlike the East Coast of the United States, the West Coast has dense high fog, which leaves lower elevations clear. The original light was 93 m above sea level so the second order Fresnel lens was often cloaked in fog and could not be seen from the sea. In 1877, the lighthouse was moved to its current location at 38 m above sea level. The United States Coast Guard currently maintains the light and fog signal. It is accessible to the public during limited hours (12:30 PM–3:30 PM) on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Up until 1940 the lighthouse could be reached without a bridge, but erosion caused a trail leading to the lighthouse to crumble into the sea. A wooden walkway was installed, but when that became treacherous the suspension bridge was built in 1954. The bridge was intended to mirror the design of the nearby Golden Gate Bridge.

As of January 6, 2010, the suspension bridge to the light house has been closed to public access. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the bridge, which is 56 years, has started to rust. It underwent repairs in 1979 and again in 1991, but the metal components are not able to stand up to the sea spray. The new span is set to open in March 2012. The new bridge construction is expected to cost between $850,000 and $1.3 million. The bridge will be made from tropical hardwood and steel suspension cables and attachments.

This card came with some really cool stamps. The two big stamps at the top are from a set of 5 stamps issued in 1999, depicting Arctic Animals, the ones here being tghe Polar Bear and Gray Wolf. The smaller stamp underneath is from a set of 2 (?) stamps issued in 1995, showing Fruits.

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