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Mt. Diablo Beacon

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Observations and Notes


Oakland Tribune March 25, 1928 clipping tells about the Standard Oil Beacon placed on Mt. Diablo




Oakland Tribune April 16, 1928 clipping tells about the Mt. Diablo beacon and the very first lighting ceremony.




On April 15, 1928 the Standard Oil Beacon on Mt. Diablo was turned on for pilots traveling to the Bay Area.  It helped guide them from 150 miles away, to an airport in the San Francisco Bay area. The 75 foot tower originaly stood a few feet from where the 36" Beacon now resides on the top of Mt. Diablo.  This tower had 12 foot letters S-D, standing for Standard Diablo, outlined in flashing neon lights.  Charles Lindberg pushed a telegraph key in Denver, Colorado in a ceremony to light the tower.  The 36" beacon was designed to be fully automatic, it had an astronomical time switch to turn it on and off.  It rotated 360 degrees six times a minute. It also had a Sperry lamp changer, when a lamp burned out, which was about every 500 hours, this changer moved the expired lamp aside and brought a spare lamp into the focus of the parobolic mirror.  Very advanced technology for its day!

In 1931 Mount Diablo was re-dedicated as a unit of State Division of Beaches and Parks.

The Civilian Conservation Corps works built roads and buildings up to the summit between 1933 and 1942.  In January of 1939, the Standard Diablo Beacon built by Standard oil was turned over to the Parks Department.  The tower was dismantled and the beacon was moved to the top of the Museum Observation Tower where it stands today.

After the December 7, 1942 attack at Pearl Harbor, the beacon was turned off on December 8, 1941.  It was feared that the enemy could use it to penetrate into the interior of the United States.

After WW11 innovations in navigations made the beacon obsolete and it remained dark until December 7, 1964, when it was turned on briefly to honor those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor.

It is now lit for one night, December 7 in a ceremony that honors those who were at Pearl Harbor.

In 2013 the beacon was restored so that it can shine for many years to come.  Truly a great monument of the early airmail and aeronautical pioneers.

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Mount Diablo Restoration Shows photos of the beacon shining brightly on Mt. Diablo and tells of the restoration work done for the December 7, 2013 ceremony.

Photos of the Restoration Process 

2010 Pearl Harbor Lighting Ceremony  Beautiful pictures of the beacon from 2010.

You Tube Video of the Mount Diablo Beacon SD Shining Brightly

You Tube Video Redecication of Restored Mt. Diablo Beacon  Learn about the restoration and the people behind the restoration (31:14 minutes). Recorded October 22nd, 2013 by Walnut Creek TV.

Mt. Diablo California December 7 2011 beacon lighting. Cessna 152 N48932 70th year anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack, the beacon as seen by pilots.


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