Pilot Knob Lighthouse “Back on Duty”
A beacon that has guided east side boaters through the dark for decades has been restored.
The miniature lighthouse, which stands at the tip of Pitch Pine Point at the mouth of Isom Bay, was first erected more than eighty years ago, possibly by Dr. Royal LaGrange, the doctor at Comstock Prison, who owned the Point at the time.
According to Brian Rooney, who now owns the property, the base of the original lighthouse was made from cobblestone, with a gremlin door in one side. Approximately forty years ago, ice swept it into the lake, where it has remained.
“I remember a couple of men replacing it with fireplace block and a little concrete lighthouse on top. The light was just a blinking bulb,” said Rooney, a California journalist who has spent every summer of his life at Pilot Knob.
This past winter, that lighthouse was also lost, pulled into the lake by receding shelves of ice.
“My sisters spend more time at the lake than I do and they said a lot of people told them we have to get the lighthouse fixed,” said Rooney. “And a few times earlier this summer, when I was standing by the shore, fishermen shouted to me that they wanted the lighthouse to come back.” Rooney said he had no idea how many people depended on the lighthouse until it was gone.
He said he always wanted to bring back the cobblestone light so this was his chance. With the help of Pilot Knob neighbor Jack Davis and a group of old friends, he did.
“We winched the cobblestone lighthouse back onto shore. And over a couple of days in July, a crew of my friends helped build a concrete base, then stand up the old light for rebuilding. We had to replace stones at the top and bottom and re-point the old concrete,” said Rooney.
Once the cobblestone lighthouse was back in place, all that was required to bring it back to life was a new light.
“I managed to find a revolving light made for miniature lighthouses and a glass top made for that purpose,” said Rooney. “And just last weekend, Jack Davis wired it up. It works great. The Pilot Knob Lighthouse is now back on duty.”