Light’s out for a few months at McGregor Point

The more than 100-year-old McGregor Point Lighthouse is undergoing repairs and will be out of service until September, the U.S. Coast Guard said. This photo was taken Tuesday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The light at the more than century-old McGregor Point Lighthouse along the coastline near Maalaea will be out until September as the U.S. Coast Guard repairs the navigational aid for boaters.

The $229,000 project involves demolishing and reconstructing the top concrete platform; reconstructing the concrete entryway and top lantern pedestal; replacing the ladder, platform railing and lantern pipe post; and repainting the exterior concrete surfaces of the light structure and the interior and exterior surfaces of the stainless steel door and frame, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West last week.

The need for repairs followed routine checks of the lighthouse that aids ships sailing along the coastline, he said. The lighthouse has been out of service since June 25 and will remain so until Sept. 25. A Notice to Mariners has been posted about the lighthouse being out of commission.

The entire renovation job is expected to be completed at the end of October, West said.

According to the website lighthousefriends.com, the story of the McGregor Point Lighthouse began in the 1880s with the Wilder Steamship Co. The Hawaiian government did not maintain many navigational aids, so the company put up lighted beacons for its vessels, including one at Maalaea Bay.

A lantern with red glass was mounted on a post. When the Lighthouse Board took responsibility for navigational aids for the Territory of Hawaii in 1904, a lens lantern was suspended from a 12-foot post, the website said.

The land for the current site of the lighthouse, 1.3 acres, was acquired by the federal government in 1903 and a light was put up in 1906 to replace the old facility, the website said. The lens lantern was mounted on a 32-foot mast with a small storage shed at the base. A one-story structure was built northwest of the light for the keeper.

A 20-foot reinforced concrete pyramid-shaped tower was built in 1915. The lighthouse flashes a green light, the website said.

The point, a popular whale-watching site, is named after Capt. Daniel McGregor, who hailed from Leith, Scotland. On a stormy night in the 1870s or ’80s, Capt. McGregor was headed to Maalaea Bay but got caught in a storm between Olowalu and Maalaea, according to the book “Beaches of Hawaii.” He sought an anchorage for the night and navigated the pali shoreline before dropping anchor in shallower water.

At dawn, Capt. McGregor found he had anchored in a cove with a protecting point, which bears his name. A wharf was built there for steamships but a tsunami wrecked the port, which eventually was abandoned, “Beaches of Hawaii” said.

“Place Names of Hawaii” by Mary Pukui, Samuel Elbert and Esther Mookini, said that McGregor was a sanitary inspector for the Territorial Board of Health and father of Circuit Court Judge Calvin McGregor.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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