Keeper James Sweet, who arrived at Ballast Point
as an assistant keeper, was an accomplished carpenter,
and apparently quite devoted to his dog. Keeper Sweet
built a dog house in the same Victorian style as the lighthouse,
and provided slippers for his dog, whose paws did not
take well to the cobblestones at the station!
Keeper Herman Engel, who arrived from
served at Ballast Point from 1914 to 1931.
His daughter Norma recorded Keeper Engel's story in her book,
Three Beams of Light. Once, while tending the
buoys of the bay (one of the Ballast Point keeper's
responsibilities), a gray whale surfaced under Engel's
boat, lifting it completely out of the water. Thankfully,
the whale submerged, leaving the Engel unscathed, save
perhaps for frayed nerves.
The last keeper at Ballast Point was Radford Franke. Franke
arrived as assistant keeper in 1931 under William Mollering,
who was head keeper from 1931 until his death at the lighthouse
in 1938. Radke elected to join
the Coast Guard when it assumed management of US lighthouses
in 1939, and took over as head keeper in 1947.
Keeper Franke did not like the eucalyptus trees which stood
at the station, but was unable to replace them until he became
head keeper. He finally managed to replace them by a series of trades.
First, he traded leftover station paint to local fishermen for
lobsters. He traded the lobsters to a local naval station gardener
for a dozen palm trees. After receiving approval from inspectors,
keeper Franke finally replaced the eucalyptus trees.
In 1960, the station was deemed unnecessary and razed. Keeper Franke's
palm trees were removed to make way for an officer's club in 1992.
Fortunately, the station's history is being preserved at the
San Diego Maritime Museum. Kenneth Franke, the museum's executive director
and son of Keeper Radford Franke, has worked to create a permanent
display on Ballast Point, including the station's fog bell.
Four Sentinels, Moeser, pp. 21-25
Umbrella Guide to California Lighthouses, Nelson, pp. 7-9