Tilly crystal

Randy Bishop of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, was inspired to email after reading a November Cannon Beach Gazette story about Scott Rekate‘s visit to the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, “Fisherman recalls visit to Terrible Tilly.”

“I have been on fishing boats near it myself but never on the Rock,” Bishop wrote. “I do have in my collection an item that Mr. Rekate mentions in his story. This is a crystal (pictured) that was in the floor of the lantern room surrounding the Fresnel lens … it should be noted that it was not part of the lens but rather a system to illuminate the stairwell from the lantern room.

“It is doubtful that these items were Fresnel lens quality, as there are flaws, air bubbles and inclusions in the glass. The original Fresnel lens was destroyed in a storm Oct. 21, 1934, and was replaced at a later date by an Aerodrome beacon.

“The story behind how I got this artifact is I have a longtime friend, Chuck Carlson, formerly of Seaside, who was hired to do diesel cleanup work on the rock, prior to its conversion in 1980 to a columbarium (place to store funeral urns) by Mimi Morissette of Portland.

“While working in the engine room, Chuck said he heard some hammering, and then glass falling down the staircase. After investigating the source he found a guy breaking out the crystals up top and the glass showering down. He stopped the guy and took a manhole or two, and some loose crystals, back with him on the next helicopter home.

“Chuck said he donated most of the crystals and manholes to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, but I’ve never seen them on display there. He has given one each to his son, Tom, and daughter, Michelle, one to me, and kept the last one for himself. It is a prized possession in my collection.”

“I believe it is our duty to keep these stories and history alive,” Bishop added. “… I am very grateful to be the caretaker of this treasure, and realize its historical value.”

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Daily Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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