Construction crews started work Wednesday morning in preparation for moving the iconic Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse at the top of a crumbling bluff over Trinidad Harbor.
Patti Fleschner, a longtime member of the Trinidad Civic Club, chairs the Memorial Preservation Committee. She was on hand as workers from Wahlund Construction and Sequoia Construction Specialists started work to move the massive lighthouse about 20 feet east onto what engineers say is firmer ground.
For Fleschner and supporters of the relocation to save the Memorial, the daunting project is a labor of love, both for the lighthouse itself, and for the families of the 238 people buried at sea, whose names are etched into a marble memorial wall at the site.
The Memorial is threatened by erosion, which has large sections of the bluff on which the lighthouse, the original one-ton brass fog bell, the memorial wall and a small parking lot, slumping downhill toward the harbor. Engineers gave the Civic Club, which owns the footprint on which the Memorial stands, a tight deadline to move the heavy structure before this winter’s rainy season, which normally would already have begun.
Construction crews started site preparation work to pour a new foundation slab for the lighthouse. A crane will arrive before Christmas to hoist the 25-foot-tall concrete lighthouse and move it to its new, theoretically more solid, base at the top of the staircase descending to Old Home Beach. The crane will also move the 2,000-pound brass bell, which originally occupied the bell house on Trinidad Head, perhaps onto a city easement on Edward Street directly across from the Trinidad Bay B&B.
“This is a sacred place, ” Fleschner said, “just as the ancient Tsauri Village site is a sacred place.”
The Memorial Lighthouse is “iconic for the whole county,” Fleschner said. Ruby Rollings, a Trinidad Rancheria member who is serving as cultural monitor for the project, nodded in agreement.
Fleschner is excited and energized that the relocation project is under way, and grateful to financial supporters of the $100,000 project, and to contractors like Wahlund and Sequoia and others, whose bids for the complicated project were “very generous.” The initial relocation of the memorial structures will cost about $43,000, Fleschner said.
“We believe in the possibility of everything,” Fleschner said.
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