Angels Gate Lighthouse – A Century of Service

March 1, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Harbor light, affectionately known as the Angels Gate Lighthouse. The lighthouse has marked the entrance of Los Angeles Harbor through times of war and peace, and even survived a tidal wave! The tower itself has undergone many changes through the years. The distinctive green flash of the Angels Gate Lighthouse remains a welcoming beacon to professional mariners and recreational boaters alike.

The first keeper's logbook entry for the Angels Gate Light.   On March 1, 1913, keeper John Olson wrote "Working on Light. Light Established". The original logbook is housed at the National Archives.

The first keeper’s logbook entry for the Angels Gate Light. On March 1, 1913, keeper John Olson wrote “Working on Light. Light Established”. The original logbook is housed at the National Archives.

An early view of the LA Harbor Lighthouse, also known as "Angels Gate Light".  The black vertical lines were not painted on the pilasters until 1918.  Postcard from the Los Angeles Maritime Museum Collection.

An early view of the LA Harbor Lighthouse, also known as “Angels Gate Light”. The black vertical lines were not painted on the pilasters until 1918. Postcard from the Los Angeles Maritime Museum Collection.

As with most icons, myths surrounding this lighthouse continue to abound. The most famous story claims that the tower’s southeasterly “tilt” was caused by a collision with a battleship. This is untrue, and in reality the leaning tower is most likely due to a combination of subsidence, earthquakes, and wind storms.

AG Keeper Willard Miller

Willard D. Miller, Lighthouse Keeper.
US Navy History & Heritage Command Photo

Many lighthouse keepers served at Angels Gate until the early 1970s, when automation made it possible to maintain the light from nearby Terminal Island. Due to its remote location, lighthouse keeping at Angels Gate was not considered a pleasant assignment, and many keepers walked off the job. One long-time keeper was Willard Miller, a US Navy veteran and amateur woodworker. Miller spent his spare time at the lighthouse making wood carvings and building elaborate music boxes.

Here is how the lighthouse tower looked in the summer of 2010. The years had taken their toll on the plaster and iron structure. Thanks to the efforts of the Cabrillo Beach Boosters, the tower’s exterior was rehabilitated soon afterwards.

The Angels Gate Lighthouse in 2010. Photograph by Marifrances Trivelli.

The Angels Gate Lighthouse in 2010. Photograph by Marifrances Trivelli.

Below  is a recent view of the Angels Gate lighthouse, ready for its next century!

The newly-renovated Angels Gate Lighthouse, 2012. Photograph by Paul Nitchman

The newly-renovated Angels Gate Lighthouse, 2012. Photograph by Paul Nitchman

 

 

Read more about the history of the Angels Gate Lighthouse here.