Roe Island Lighthouse

Oct. 8, 2019

Roe Island Lighthouse, Roe Island, Suisan Bay, California

Built in 1891.


Location: On south point of Roe Island
Station Established: 1891
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1891
Operational: No
Automated: N/A
Deactivated: Yes, 1945
Foundation Materials: Wooden pier
Construction Materials: Wood 
Tower Shape: Cupola atop a white square house
Markings/Pattern: White house; black lantern room/cupola
Height: 41 feet above water
Characteristic: Flashing white (light for 2.5 seconds, eclipse for 2.5 seconds)
Relationship to Other Structure: 
Original Lens: 
Fog Signal: Bell, 1 stroke every 10 seconds

Historical Information:

  • The Roe Island Light was built on the Suisun Bay across from Port Chicago, 33 miles island from the Golden Gate and five miles east of Benicia.
  • In the 1900’s a second dwelling similar to the lighthouse without the lantern were built adjacent to the lighthouse.
  • On 17 July 1944 two ships, Quinault Victory and E. A. Bryan were being loaded with tons of munitions.  Approximately 10:20 pm there was an enormous explosion.  Over 300 men, both ships, two Coast Guard vessels and much of the train were completely destroyed.
  • The explosion damaged the lighthouse which was 3,000 yards away.   With changes in the shipping waterways in the area the light was no longer needed anyway so it was decommissioned in 1945 and sold.  An 11 August 1944 Coast Guard report noted that the station: "consists of the light, with two keepers, with dwellings, outhouses, power house, water supply tanks, wharf, walkways, boat harbor and boatways.  No fog signal is maintained.  Electric current for the light and quarters is generated at the station.  Water supply is from rain collected from the building roofs, augmented by supply pumped in from the tenders."  
  • It was sold to a private family. The family used the station as a summer home until a fire completely destroyed it.

Researched and written by Melissa Buckler, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.