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Lone ranger of Santa Barbara Island

Lone ranger of Santa Barbara Island

1984: Channel Islands park ranger Reed McCluskey makes his way to a small lighthouse called Arch Point on tiny and treeless Santa Barbara Island.

This photo by staff photographer Mark Boster accompanied a story by staff writer Earl Gustkey in the Oct. 19, 1984, Los Angeles Times that began:

SANTA BARBARA ISLAND––On a tiny, treeless island 38 miles off San Pedro, Reed McCluskey lives the life of a 20th Century Robinson Crusoe.

He’s the resident ranger on this one-by one-and-a-half-mile island, one of five in the Channel Islands National Park. For McCluskey, it’s three weeks here–in an old but comfortable Navy quonset hut–and a week at his home in Ojai with his wife, Marlene.

Days and even weeks go by without a human visitor, he says.

“My wife works at the Park Service headquarters in Ventura, but I can’t talk to her on the radio because it isn’t official Park Service business,” he said.

“I can call her through the marine operator, but it’s like a giant party line–it’s not private. And it’s expensive. The last time I talked to her that way, a drunk on a boat someplace commented on everything we said.”

“So that’s the toughest part, being away from my wife. I really don’t mind the isolation …. I really enjoy the wildlife out here.” …

Asked what mainland comforts he misses most, he named three.

“Number one would be easy communication, being able to pick up the phone and talk to my wife. Second would be a good old fashion indoor commode. We have outdoor solar toilets here at the ranger station, which is fine in good weather. But having to go outside in the middle of the night in a storm is awful. The mud is unbelievable. Third would be a blender.” …

Channel Islands National Park was established on March 5, 1980. For more historical photos of National Parks in California check out California’s national parks: A photographic history seen through The Times’ archives.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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1 Comment

  1. May 19, 2015, 1:20 am

    Great shot. I knew there were Channel Islands off the Californian coast but hadn’t seen any photos. I live in the original Channel Islands off the coast of France.

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