Historic Light Station Information
& Photography

CALIFORNIA


ALCATRAZ ISLAND LIGHT

Location: ALCATRAZ ISLAND / SAN FRANCISCO BAY
Station Established: 1854
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1909
Operational? Yes
Automated? Yes, 1963
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: Masonry
Construction Materials: Reinforced concrete
Tower Shape: Octagonal pyramidal
Height:    84-feet
Markings/Pattern: Natural w/black lantern
Characteristics:   
Relationship to Other Structure: Separate
Original Lens: Third Order, Fresnel, 1854
Foghorn: Dismantled; was an electronic Klaxon but originally was a bell.

Historical Information:

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

ALCATRAZ LIGHTHOUSE (1854)

ALCATRAZ LIGHTHOUSE (1909)


ANACAPA ISLAND LIGHT

ENTRANCE TO SANTA BARBARA CHANNEL
Station Established: 1912
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1932
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1968
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: REINFORCED CONCRETE
Construction Materials: BRICK/CONCRETE
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/BLACK TRIM
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: THIRD ORDER, FRESNEL 1932

Historical Information:

Anacapa, a native-American word meaning "ever changing", was first discovered by Gabrillo in 1542. The islands were called Las Mesitas or the Little Tables by De Portola in 1769. Captain George Vancouver renamed them Anacapa from the Canalino Indian name of Enecapah.  Anacapa Island is really a chain of three small islets extending four and a half miles from east to west. The easternmost island is one mile long, a quarter of a mile wide, and rises 250 feet above the water. Middle Island is one and a half miles long, a quarter of a mile wide and 325 feet at its highest point. The western, and largest island of this group, is two miles long by six tenths of a mile wide, and rises to a peak of 930 feet.

Anacapa’s 40-foot lighthouse tower and adjacent foghorn building are located on East Anacapa. Her radiant 1.1 million candlepower light beacon, her bellowing foghorn and beeping radio signal have guided ships safely through the coastal channel since 1932, the date of construction. Prior to that an unattended light placed on the island in 1912 served as a guiding beacon for sailing vessels. A one tenth second of white light, 11-9/10 second of darkness, one-tenth second of light, 11-9/10 second of darkness, one tenth second of light, 35. 9 seconds of darkness. This is the visual voice of Anacapa Island Light Station. The foghorn, a diaphragm-type horn, groans one two second blast then is silent for two seconds, blasts again for two seconds and then completes the cycle with 14 seconds of silence during low visibility. Electronic equipment sends out a continual radio beacon signal with a range of 12 miles. The Coast Guardsmen and their families of the light station resided in the four large Spanish style white stucco houses with red tile roofs before the light station was automated in December, 1968. 

The station in its entirety was transferred to the National Park Service in December, 2008.  The light remains as an active aid to navigation.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

ANACAPA ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE


ANGEL ISLAND LIGHT

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Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

ANGEL ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE


AÑO NUEVO ISLAND LIGHT

Location: 
Station Established: 
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 
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Automated? 
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Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

AÑO NUEVO ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE (1872)

AÑO NUEVO ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE (1890)


BALLAST POINT LIGHT

Location: 
Station Established: 
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 
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Automated? 
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Historical Information:

By Harmon Lougher, Photographer’s Mate First Class

Ballast Point is a tiny peninsula extending from Point Loma into the channel entrance to the harbor of San Diego. The point derived its name from the fact that the early Yankee skippers would have stones gathered from Ballast Point to serve as ballast in their vessels during their returns around the Horn to their home town, Boston.

Cabrillo sailed from the Port of Navidad in 1542 and, after bucking head winds and seas for five months, sighted the Coronado Islands. As he continued on, the headland of Point Loma rose from the sea. Working his way past the kelp beds he dropped anchor in the quiet waters inside the present Ballast Point on September 28th, 1542. Cabrillo tarried for six days in this spacious harbor which he named San Miguel. Sixty years passed before the placid waters around Ballast Point were again disturbed by deep-sea keels, when Sebastian Vizcaino anchored on November 10th, 1602. He renamed the harbor San Diego in honor of that Saint's day. In 1769, Spain decided to occupy the vast territory by converting the Indians to the Catholic faith and teaching them domestic pursuits. By this time little transports were coming with supplies on a haphazard schedule, and when the Clipper ship Aranzaya arrived in 1795, she brought three workmen and the necessary timber to build a fort at Ballast Point, or as it was known at that time, Point Guizarros.

Up to the late eighteen forties, the bay was a favorite resort for whales during the calving season. Shore whaling was a natural for the people in this area since the whales reversed the usual procedure and came to the whaler. The carcases were towed to Ballast Point where the blubber was boiled in 150-gallon try pots.

In 1890, Ballast Point Lighthouse was constructed. The original buildings consisted of two dwellings and a light tower which was part of the keeper’s quarters. The light was a fifth order fixed classical lens with a green shade, inside a brass and glass lantern with a focal height of 34-feet. The tower itself was a white square tower.

In June of this year, the old dwellings were torn down leaving the tower free standing; however, during repairs to the tower it was found to be unstable due to failure of the brick and mortar foundation. It was decided to relocate the light on top of the fog signal building and demolish the tower. The Cabrillo National Monument, National Park Service, requested the lens and light for their museum soon to be built. Arrangements have been made for that Service to remove the lantern and lens prior to the demolition of the tower. The new light is a standard 375MM lens with storm panes, which will be an occulting white, six—second light, three—seconds off, three seconds on.

The old light used a 120—volt, 300—watt lamp, giving 1700 candlepower. The new light, even though it uses a slightly smaller lamp, 32-volt, 250—watt, will give 9000 candlepower, due to the increased efficiency of the filament and the removal of the green shade. The fog signal is a single tone diaphone which emits 1 blast every 15 seconds. In the event the diaphone becomes inoperative, the men on station are required to ring a large bell by hand, with one stroke every 15 seconds. As a matter of interest it is noted the diaphone has never been inoperative since installation in 1926. Adjacent to the light structure are located a new three-bedroom and a four-bedroom duplex type dwelling, completely furnished which house resident personnel and their families. The new light has been shown from its new location since 5 August, and the demolition of the old tower is presently being accomplished. Ballast Point was the last lighthouse displaying a fixed light on the Pacific Coast.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

BALLAST POINT LIGHTHOUSE


BATTERY POINT (CRESCENT CITY) LIGHT

Location: BATTERY POINT ISLAND
Station Established: 1856
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1856
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1953
Deactivated: 1965-1982
7Foundation Materials: NATURAL/EMPLACED
Construction Materials: BRICK TOWER/GRANITE HOUSE
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL ON SQUARE HOUSE
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL 1856

NO PHOTOGRAPH AVAILABLE


CAPE MENDOCINO LIGHT (OLD)

Lighthouse Name: Cape Mendocino Light
Location: California Coast at Cape Mendocino, now at Shelter Cove near Point Delgado, CA
Station Established: 1868
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1868
Operational? No
Automated? Yes,  1951
Deactivated: 1970s
Foundation Materials: Concrete
Construction Materials: Cast Iron
Tower Shape: Pyramidal 16-sided
Markings/Pattern: White
Relationship to Other Structure: Separate
Original Lens: First Order Fresnel

Historical Information:

The above was researched and drafted by Melissa Buckler, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

THE "OLD" CAPE MENDOCINO LIGHTHOUSE


CARQUINEZ STRAIT LIGHT

Lighthouse Name: Carquinez Strait Light
Location: Approximately 20 miles inland form the mouth of the San Francisco Bay near Vallejo, CA
Station Established: 1908
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1910
Operational? No
Automated? Yes, 1963
Deactivated: Yes, 1951
Foundation Materials: Wood pier
Construction Materials: Wood
Tower Shape: Square
Markings/Pattern: Cream colored
Relationship to Other Structure: Integral
Original Lens: Fourth Order, Fresnel

Historical Information:

The above was researched and drafted by Melissa Buckler, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.

Additional Information (taken from a 1966 USCG Press Release):

Carquinez Strait Light Station is an automatic light station located at Vallejo, California between Suisun Bay and San Pablo Bay. It was first placed into operation on January 15, 1910. The original structure, a 28-room light house weighing 150 tons, was used until abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1951. New family quarters were constructed on top of the bluff overlooking San Pablo Bay and the entrances to Carquinez Strait and Mare Island Strait. On August 6, 1955, the original structure was taken off its pilings and put aboard a barge. It was then successfully towed two miles to its new location at Elliott Cove and converted into a resort. The new buildings were constructed in 1951 on top of the bluff The main family dwelling consisted of two 3~bedroom and two 2 bedrooms. The men assigned maintained and operated the light at the end of the breakwater and an automatic fog signal. In addition, the unit was responsible for providing emergency repairs on five aids to navigation in the vicinity of the station. A 24-hour lookout was maintained. On June 3, 1963, the Coast Guard personnel were transferred from the station and the light and fog signal were automated.  (December 1966)

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

CARQUINEZ STRAIT LIGHTHOUSE


EAST BROTHER ISLAND LIGHT

Location: Off Point San Pablo, San Francisco Bay
Date Built: 1874
Type of Structure: Square buff colored wood tower attached to keeper’s house a two story Victorian placed on a blasted away 1-acre rock.  It also had an assistant keeper’s house, equipment building, cistern, and water tank.  The water cistern was also blasted to a depth of 30 feet and is capable of holding 50,000 gallons of rain water.
Height: 48 feet with height of focal plane 61 feet
Lens: fourth order Fresnel lens
Automated: 1969, now FA 251
Foghorn: Wood fog signal building originally steam whistles
Status: Operational, active aid to navigation, bed and breakfast inn

Historical Information:

Keepers: Samuel M. Farran (1874-1880), Charles F. Winsor (1880-1887), P.J. Quinlan (1887-1894), John O. Stenmark (1894-1914), John P. Kofod (1914-1921), Herbert Luff (1921), J. Dunn (1921-1922), Williard Miller (1922-1942), J.S. McGrath (1942-1944), E.P. Perry (1944-?), Mickey Edward Thurman (Coast Guard, c. 1944-1947); First Assistants: John Cawley (1874-1881), Joseph M. Page (1881-1883), Albert Tippett (1883-1886), Charles A. Paulson (1886-1888), Charles McCarthy (1889-1890), Martin Haave (1890-1893), James Anderson (1893-1901), Oscar Sellman (1901), Charles A. Paulson (1901-1902), John W. Astrom (1902-?), Andrew Szarnecker (1908-?), C.E. Clark (1909-1918), E.C. Easton (1918), D. O. Kinyon (1918-?), W. Monette (1919-?), A.H. Joost (1921), T.F. Brown (1921-?), F.L. Pike (1922-1926), Roy L. Murphy (1926-1928), Frederick S. Cobb (1928-1930), J.H. Sylvia (1930), W.J. Atkins (1931-1936), Earl Snodgrass (1936-1943), Frank Dacosta (1943-?); Second Assistants: F. Moran (1874-?), James Rankin (c. 1878), William McCarthy (1878-1880)

Researched and written by Catherine (Kitty) Price, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

EAST BROTHER ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE


FARALLON ISLAND LIGHT

Location: SOUTHEAST FARALLON ISLAND
Station Established: 1855
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1855
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1972
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: BRICK
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Shape: CONICAL W/OUT LANTERN
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: FIRST ORDER, FRESNEL 1855

Historical Information:

This lighthouse, on the highest peak of the southeast Farallon, was built in 1855 in the busy days which followed the gold rush, when clipper ships and other sailing vessels were sailing in to San Francisco in large numbers. That there was need for a light on these dangerous rocks is evident when clippers like the Golden City which sailed from New York in 1852 reported that she was detained 5 days off the Farallons in fog. Stone for the construction of the lighthouse was quarried on the island and inside this masonry was a lining of brick. The extremely sharp slopes of the island and the jagged nature of the rock were serious obstacles to construction work. The bricks used in the tower were carried up the rock in bundles of four and five on the backs of men. After the completion of the tower a mule was kept on the island for years to carry supplies between the various parts of the station. At one time this mule was the oldest inhabitant. A number of years ago the gathering of birds’ eggs, which were sold on the San Francisco market, was carried on here extensively and seals were also hunted commercially. These practices were finally terminated by the Federal Government. The Farallon Light Station was equipped with a radiobeacon as well as with a powerful light and fog signal.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

FARALLON LIGHT TOWER WITH LANTERN ROOM

FARALLON LIGHT TOWER WITHOUT LANTERN ROOM

South Farallon Island Light, circa 1871: (75 dpi); (300 dpi); photo by noted English photographer Eadweard Muybridge. 

Another view: (75 dpi); (300 dpi)


FORT POINT LIGHT

Location: Entrance to San Francisco Harbor, directly beneath the south anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge; nearest Town or City is San Francisco, California
Date Built: 1853
Type of Structure:

Height: 27 feet with height of focal plane at 110 feet
Characteristics: Alternate white & red flashes 5 sec, 30 sec revolution
Lens: 1864 had a fourth order Fresnel lens
Foghorn: Originally bell, later fog trumpet in concrete for signal building built in 1904
Status: Deactivated in 1934; discontinued because of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge because the bridge would block off a major part of the light from the site.

Historical Information:

Keepers: B.F. Deane (1855-?), J.C. Frachey (?), George D. Wise (1860), Henry Hickson (1860-?), John D. Jenkins (?-1863), George W. Omey (1863), Scott Blanchard (1864-1866), R.S. Martin (1866-1869), Frank Thompson (1869-1871), J.T. Hule (1871-1878), James Rankin (1878), Assistants: Ephrin Sohn (1856-?), Return J. Henter (1857-1859), George D. Wise (1858-1860), D. Dennison (1860), G.W. Thomas (1860), James Gormley (1860-?), James Jenkins (1860-?), James Heron (1860-?), C.H. Warren (?), G.W. Omey (?-1863), G.A. Braley (1863), J.J. Wickersham (1863-1865), Ann Blanchard (1865-1866), William Ferry (1866-1867), Mrs. Rachel L. Jones (1867-1868), Theresa Welch (1868), F.B. Morehouse (1868-1869), Mrs. Mary Thompson (1869-1871), Sophie Hule (1874-1878), John Riley (1878-1879), H.P. McKeever (1879), Frank P Stanyan (1879)

Researched and written by Catherine (Kitty) Price, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

FORT POINT LIGHTHOUSE


LIME POINT LIGHT

Location: Entrance of the San Francisco Bay, adjacent to the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, California
Station Established: 1883
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1900
Operational: NO
Automated: YES 1961
Deactivated: 1961
Characteristics: Fixed White
Fog Signal: Steam boilers & whistles
Foundation Materials:
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Shape: SQUARE BRICK TOWER MOUNTED ON THE WALL OF FOG SIGNAL BUILDING
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens

Historical Information:

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

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

LIME POINT LIGHTHOUSE


LONG BEACH LIGHT

Location: 
Station Established: 
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 
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Automated? 
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Historical Information:

Old Salts scratch their heads in amazement at the sight of Long Beach Harbor Light. It looks about as much like the accepted version of a lighthouse as a square looks like a circle. Labeled the "robot light" when established in 1949, it is completely automated and was the forerunner of the new version of 20th-century lighthouses on the West Coast. The 42-foot high white, rectangular tower with a columnar base, features a 36- inch airway-type beacon and is controlled by the ANRAC system from Los Angeles Lighthouse. The three-story facility, of monolithic design, is built of concrete supported on six cement columns cast into six pockets of a crib. It does about everything automatic but walk. In its commanding position in San Pedro’s middle breakwater, the lighthouse was considered an uncanny mechanical wonder when first established, but in our day of automation, it no longer gets the "ooh’s" and "ahhh’s" it was once accorded. The Latest navigation light of importance in the Long Beach area was erected atop the pilot station at the Port of Long Beach in 1968. Marking the harbor entrance channel, the light is accompanied by one of the Coast Guard’s new radar scanners.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

THE ORIGINAL LONG BEACH SKELETON TOWER

THE LONG BEACH "ROBOT" LIGHT, 1949


LOS ANGELES HARBOR LIGHT

Location: SAN PEDRO BREAKWATER - ANGELS GATE
Station Established: 1913
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1913
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1971
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: ROCK BREAKWATER W/CONCRETE SLABS
Construction Materials: STEEL/CONCRETE
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Markings/Pattern: BLACK STRIPES (VERTICAL)
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER FRESNEL 1913

Historical Information:

Though battered by seasonal storms and an occasional passing ship, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Los Angeles Harbor Light has faithfully guarded the port’s busy gateway since 1913. As early as 1907, plans were being made to include a lighthouse in the Los Angeles Breakwater project. The light was to occupy a 40-foot-square concrete block at the end of the west breakwater. A temporary light was established on the block with the completion of the breakwater in 1910. The present lighthouse was completed in 1913 at a cost of just under $36,000. Originally designed to be a dormered, square wooden building with the lens sprouting from the roof similar to Southampton Shoals and Oakland Harbor Lights on San Francisco Bay, the Los Angeles Light ended up looking more like a Roman fantasy. It is the only lighthouse ever built to this design. The light was firmly anchored to the concrete block and built of steel reinforced concrete.

Heavy construction proved to be a godsend when a furious five-day storm assaulted the light a few years after opening. The steel and concrete stood fast as angry seas broke against the walls. A wooden structure would probably have been carried away and the keepers killed. However, the light did not escape unscathed. When the storm ended, keepers complained of difficulty walking one direction in the building. A plumb line dropped from the tower revealed that the concrete block had settled during the storm, giving the lighthouse a pronounced shoreward list. The lean could not be corrected and did no harm except to annoy the keepers. Other scars were put on the lighthouse one dark night when a keeper was thrown to the floor by a tremendous blow to the tower. Running to the window, the amazed keeper saw the silhouette of a huge battleship which had blundered into the breakwater. The ship continued on its way with only scratches and the incident was marked "confidential" and buried deep in Navy files for many years.

The Navy again came into the history of Los Angeles Harbor Light during World War II. New construction added a degaussing station, a radio direction finding calibration unit and a barracks for the Navy personnel who worked this equipment. More changes were made in 1959. The old deep-throated two-tone fog horn, affectionately known to locals as "Moaning Maggie", was replaced by a higher-pitched single-tone horn. The new horn was called "Blatting Betty" and was disliked by local mariners for years. The saddest change for the Los Angeles Harbor Light came on February 1, 1973, when the station was automated and the keepers departed. Today, the 217,000 candle-power light is monitored and maintained by personnel from Coast Guard Base Terminal Island.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

LOS ANGELES HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE


MARE ISLAND LIGHT

Location: North shore of San Pablo Bay at the entrance to Carquinez Strait; nearest Town or City is Vallejo, California
Date Built: 1873
Type of Structure: Square tower attached to dwelling
Construction Materials: Wood and Iron
Height: 76’ above mean high water
Characteristics: Fixed White
Lens: Fourth Order
Foghorn: Gamewell fog bell striking apparatus No. 2 machine; automated in 1916
Appropriation:
Relationship to Other Structure: Integral
Status: Deactivated in 1917

Historical Information:

Keepers:

Researched and written by Catherine (Kitty) Price, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

Mare Island Light, print, circa 1879, (75 dpi) ; (300 dpi).

Mare Island Light, (75 dpi) ; (300 dpi); no caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  View from pier looking ashore and up at light station.

Mare Island Light, (75 dpi) ; (300 dpi); no caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  View from atop mountain down at the light station and pier.

Mare Island Light, (75 dpi) ; (300 dpi); no caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  View of the light from the north side.


MILE ROCKS LIGHT

Location: 
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Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 
Operational? 
Automated? 
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Historical Information:

This lighthouse was completed in 1906, after considerable difficulty caused by the heavy seas and strong currents occurring at this point. The rock upon which the lighthouse is built measured only 40 by 30 feet at high water. The base of the tower is a large block of concrete protected by steel plating. Steel and concrete in the foundation alone weighed 1,500 tons. The superstructure is of steel, and houses the fog signal apparatus and the quarters for the keepers, with the lantern above. It was on this rock that the Rio Janeiro was wrecked shortly before the building of the lighthouse. One hundred and twenty-eight persons out of a total of 209, lost their lives when the Rio Janeiro went down on February 2, 1901. The wreck has never been found. In 1966, the tower was removed, and the light automated.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

THE ORIGINAL MILE ROCKS LIGHT TOWER, 1962  (Higher Resolution)

THE MILE ROCKS LIGHT TOWER AFTER MODIFICATIONS


OAKLAND HARBOR LIGHT

FORMERLY AT THE ENTRANCE TO OAKLAND HARBOR, NOW IN EMBARCADERO COVE, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
Station Established: 1903
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1903
Operational: NO
Automated: N/A
Deactivated: 1966
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE PILINGS
Construction Materials: WOOD
Tower Shape: SQUARE WITHOUT A LANTERN
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Characteristic: Fixed White
Original Lens: FIFTH ORDER

Historical Information:

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

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

OAKLAND HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE


PIEDRAS BLANCAS LIGHT

Location: Approximately five miles north of San Simeon Bay
Station Established: 1872
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1875
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1975
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: MASONRY
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Shape: CONICAL W/OUT LANTERN
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: FIRST ORDER (made by Henri Lapaute) 1875

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

PIEDRAS BLANCAS LIGHT TOWER WITH LANTERN ROOM

PIEDRAS BLANCAS LIGHT TOWER WITHOUT LANTERN ROOM


PIGEON POINT LIGHT

Location: Southern approach to San Francisco Bay
Station Established: 1871
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1872
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1974
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: STONE
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Shape: CONICAL ATTACHED TO WORKROOM
Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/BLACK TRIM
Relationship to Other Structure: ATTACHED
Original Lens: FIRST ORDER, FRESNEL 1892

Historical Information:

Pigeon Point Lighthouse is one of the most picturesque lighthouses on the Pacific coast, the 115-foot white masonry tower standing on a rocky promontory long a landmark for ships approaching San Francisco Bay from the southward. This lighthouse was built in 1872, and is equipped with a lens of the first order producing a light of 500,000 candlepower. The station also has an electrically operated fog signal. This headland, and hence the lighthouse, took its name from the ship Carrier Pigeon wrecked here many years ago.

"Pigeon Point Light Station is located on the coastal highway, five miles south of Pescadero, California. It is a family station operated by four men who live here in new ranch-style quarters completed in 1960. Pigeon Point is perhaps the most picturesque lighthouse on the Pacific Coast. The 115 foot, white masonry tower, built in 1872, resembles the typical New England structure. Because of its location and ready access from the main highway, Pigeon Point entertains a tremendous number of public visitors. As of July 1970, the unit was approximately ¼ automated." (Written in 1970).

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

PIDGEON POINT LIGHTHOUSE


POINT ARENA LIGHT

Location: Two miles north of Point Arena
Station Established: 1870
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1908
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1977
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
Construction Materials: REINFORCED CONCRETE
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/BLACK LANTERN
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: FIRST ORDER, ROTATING FRESNEL 1908

Historical Information:

Point Arena Light Station is located at Point Arena, north of San Francisco in the Fort Point Group. The light was established in 1870, but as a result of the earthquake of 1906, the light tower was reconstructed in 1908. When first under Coast Guard control, four men were assigned to man this family station and were provided with quarters as follows: One 4 bedroom unit, three 3-bedroom units. Other buildings are the light tower, paint locker, fuel locker, bosun locker and buildings housing the fire pump, water pumps and JP-5 fueling pumps. The station had a pickup truck assigned that, among other things, was utilized to transport dependent school children to school three miles from the station.  The crew was removed and the station automated in 1977.

The lighthouse was transferred to the ownership of the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc.  The light's Fresnel lens has been removed from the tower and will be displayed on the station's grounds on loan from the Coast Guard.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

THE 1870 POINT ARENA LIGHT TOWER

THE 1908 POINT ARENA LIGHT TOWER


POINT ARGUELLO LIGHT

Location: On Point Arguello near Lompoc, California
Station Established: 
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 
Operational? 
Automated? 
Deactivated: 
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Relationship to Other Structure: 
Original Lens: 

Historical Information:

The area of land now known as Point Arguello was originally known by the Canalino Indian name "Nocto" and was part of the territory ruled at the time of the advent of the Mission Fathers by Chief Salipuata. The Indians were part of the third people indigenous to the area, the Canalinos. In prehistoric times, a people of Mongolian stock in all probability had first settled along the Southern California coast in areas where oak trees were plentiful, from which characteristic they had been called "The Oak Tree (Grove)’ People". They vanished some hundreds of years before the beginning of the Christian ear, and after a period yielding no archaeological remains, a second group, also probably Mongolian in origin and semi—nomadic in habits arrived. These "hunting people" gradually merged with a third race, the Canalinos, on the latter’s arrival.

On August 28, 1769, the Portola expedition camped near Point Arguello, where they found a small Indian rancheria, the locale of which abounded in excellent flints, whence they named it Los Pederales (The Flints). This name continued to be used off the point on Spanish maps until the Mexican revolution. The American and European designation was Point Arguello, from the name assigned by Vancouver in 1793, in honor of Jose Mario Arguello, then Commandant at Monterey.

The history of Point Arguello during the next century, indeed to modern times, has been one of shipwrecks, the area having been termed the "Graveyard of the pacific"; probably the most famous tragedy was the wreck of the "Yankee Blade" on the 1st of October 1854. 415 people perished when the steamship hit the rocks 200 to 300 yards offshore. She carried a fortune in gold bullion which has since been recovered.

In recent times what has been called the U.S. Navy’s greatest peacetime disaster occurred off the Point; the sinking seven 4—stacker destroyers and the loss of 22 men on the same rocks that smashed the "Yankee Blade", September 9, 1923. Mariners say that the chief reason that so many boats have struck there is that in bad weather typical of that shoreline, sailing a boat into the channel between San Miguel Island and Points Arguello and Conception is like sailing into the eye of a needle. In 1901, the lighthouse service built a light station at Point Arguello. Between 1934 and 1938, increased in coastwise shipping necessitated the service establish a lifeboat station.

On July 1, 1939, the Lighthouse Service was combined with the Coast Guard to augment the Service by 8,000 men who took their place in forming a nucleus for our present day light stations and aids to navigation work. During the interim of World War II, the Coast Guard manned Point Arguello Light and Point Arguello Lifeboat station, as well as a newly established LORAN Station. After 12 years-operation following the War, it was deemed economical to disestablish the lifeboat station and so in 1958, Point Arguello Lifeboat Station was retired.

Point Arguello light is unique in that it is a key synoptic reporting point for national weather maps. The Loran station broadcasts navigational references to passing ships, and the light station disseminates information upon which fog and cloud conditions for Southern California are based. Facilities at the light include a 36-inch revolving beacon of 1,100,000 candle power that can be seen approximately 17 miles at sea. The light itself is 124 feet above the water. A two-tone diaphone fog signal is placed in operation when visibility is less than five miles. The diaphone when operating is synchronized with a radio beacon every three minutes for distance finding. Point Arguello presently has an allowance of 12 enlisted personnel. Accommodations are available for eight families at the unit.  (February 10, 1968)

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

THE ORIGINAL POINT ARGUELLO LIGHT TOWER

THE POINT ARGUELLO SKELETON TOWER


POINT BLUNT LIGHT

Location: On Angel Island, San Francisco Bay
Station Established: 
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 
Operational? 
Automated? 
Deactivated: 
Foundation Materials: 
Construction Materials: 
Tower Shape: 
Markings/Pattern: 
Relationship to Other Structure: 
Original Lens: 

Historical Information:

Yerba Buena Group

Point Blunt Light Station, on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, was established in 1915. Point Blunt Light was originally maintained by personnel at Angel Island Light Station at Point Knox until 1960. In 1960 a new watch room was constructed at Point Blunt which afforded a view of the entire San Francisco Bay. With the new watch room, and new quarters completed in 1961 at Point Blunt, the Coast Guard moved the personnel from Angel Island Light Station and at the same time discontinued manning of Southampton Shoals Light Station. The latter structure was removed and the operation of Southampton Shoals fog signal is now controlled by personnel at Point Blunt.

In addition to Southampton Shoals, personnel at Point Blunt operate their own light and fog signals and Raccoon Strait light and fog signals. The station also provides special direction finder calibration services as requested. Four family units, 3 bedrooms each, are at Point Blunt. Two units are Coast Guard owned, two are leased from the State of California. One unit is occupied by the Officer in Charge and his family. The other units are presently being utilized by the married crew members and their families. One small boat is assigned to the station. A pickup truck is assigned. Point Blunt Light Station rates a BM1 as Officer in Charge, plus one EN2, one FN, and one SN. (Written in July, 1970)

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

POINT BLUNT LIGHTHOUSE


POINT BONITA LIGHT

Location: Point Bonita-San Francisco Bay entrance near Sausalito, California
Station Established: 1855
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1877
Operational? YES
Automated? 1980
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: MASONRY
Construction Materials: BRICK/CEMENT
Tower Shape: POLYGONAL ON SQUARE OIL HOUSE
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: SECOND ORDER FRESNEL LENS, 1877

Historical Information:

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

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

THE 1856 POINT BONITA LIGHT TOWER

THE NEW POINT BONITA LIGHT TOWER


POINT CABRILLO LIGHT

Location: Between Point Arena and Cape Mendocino
Station Established: 1909
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1909
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1973
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
Construction Materials: WOOD
Tower Shape: OCTAGONAL ON FOG SIGNAL BLDG
Markings/Pattern: WHITE BLDG/RED ROOF/BLACK LENS ROOM & ROOF
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: THIRD ORDER, FRESNEL 1909

Historical Information:

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse was established in 1909, displaying a 3rd Order Standard Lens and Air Sirens. It is located about 1.5 miles from Fort Bragg, California. With the exception of a small barn all original buildings stand unaltered. In 1935, an air diaphone supertyfone sound signal was installed. The station was automated in 1973.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

POINT CABRILLO LIGHTHOUSE


POINT CONCEPTION LIGHT

Location: West entrance Santa Barbara Channel
Station Established: 1856
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1882
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1973
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: STONE
Construction Materials: STUCCO/WOOD/BRICK
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL ATTACHED TO OIL HOUSE
Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/BLACK LANTERN
Relationship to Other Structure: ATTACHED
Original Lens: FIRST ORDER, FRESNEL 1856

Historical Information:

The history of Point Conception goes back to a period when Juan Cabrillo sailed along the California coast in search for glory and gold. On October 18, 1542, he encountered heavy winds upon rounding the Point and was forced to turn back to San Miguel Island where he died. Second-in-command Bartolome Ferrelo took charge and again tried to round the Point but he was also unsuccessful. The Point was named Punta de la Limpia Concepcion by Vizcaino in 1602, who was the next Spanish sailor to venture the Pacific waters along the California coast after Juan Cabrillo.

It was here at Point Conception in 1856, that the lighthouse was built high on the sandstone cliffs, above the location of the present lighthouse. The lens and steel tower for the lighthouse were made in France at a cost of $65,068 and was transported around Cape Horn. A report indicates that the lighthouse was severely damaged during the Fort Tejon earthquake of January 9, 1867. The lighthouse was moved in 1881 and rebuilt from the top of the bluff to a mesa midway down, 133 feet above the Pacific.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

THE 1856 POINT CONCEPTION LIGHT TOWER

THE 1882 POINT CONCEPTION LIGHT TOWER


POINT FERMIN LIGHT

Location: Point Fermin-San Pedro Harbor, near San Pedro, California
Station Established: 1874
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1874
Operational? NO
Automated? N/A
Deactivated: 1942
Foundation Materials: BRICK
Construction Materials: WOOD FRAME
Tower Shape: SQUARE
Markings/Pattern: ITALIANATE TOWER ON ITALIANATE DWELLING
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER FRESNEL LENS, 1874

Historical Information:

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

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

POINT FERMIN LIGHTHOUSE


POINT HUENEME LIGHT

Location: East entrance, Santa Barbara Channel
Station Established: 1874
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1941
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1972
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials:
Construction Materials: CONCRETE
Tower Shape: SQUARE ON FOG SIGNAL BUILDING
Markings/Pattern: WHITE ART MODERNE
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL

Historical Information:

Point Hueneme Light on the north side of the east entrance to the Santa Barbara Channel is a 48-foot high, buff-colored tower on a fog-signal building. Established in 1874, the station was automated in 1941.

Probably the most dramatic thing that has happened in recent years within range of the light was a shipwreck over which the lighthouse had no preventive power. The veteran passenger liner La Janelle once removed from her role as a cruise liner, lay at anchor off Port Hueneme on April 14, 1970 awaiting plans for conversion to a floating restaurant and fun palace. The owners were attempting to cut down on moorage costs by leaving the vessel at anchor in the open ocean, directly offshore. That was a bad mistake. With only one watchman aboard, the vessel fell victim to storm-tossed seas which rose to huge activities, causing the 465 foot long ship to slip her anchor cables. In a dramatic episode of the sea, rescue parties managed to snatch the watchman from the deck, but the 40 year old vessel, like a wounded whale, was tossed unceremoniously onto the beach, a total constructive loss. The California State Lands Commission became much concerned about the problem both from the standpoint of leaking oil and a menace to navigation. They voted unanimously to have the ship scrapped, "as is, where is," and accordingly put out bids. The big steel ship still remains but is being torn apart bit by bit by human and natural elements.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

THE 1874 POINT HUENEME LIGHT TOWER

THE 1941 POINT HUENEME LIGHT TOWER


POINT LOMA LIGHT (NEW)

Location: Southern end of Point Loma
Station Established: 1891
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1891
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1973
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
Construction Materials: STEEL
Tower Shape: SKELETAL W/CYLINDER
Markings/Pattern: WHITE TOWER W/BLACK LANTERN
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: THIRD ORDER, FRESNEL 1891

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

THE NEW POINT LOMA LIGHTHOUSE (B&W)

Point Loma (new; color)


POINT LOMA LIGHT (OLD)

Location: Cabrillo National Monument
Station Established: 1855
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1855
Operational? NO
Automated? NO
Deactivated: 1891
Foundation Materials: NATURAL/EMPLACED
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Shape: CONICAL
Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/GREEN LANTERN
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: THIRD ORDER, FRESNEL 1855

Historical Information:

  •  One of first eight lighthouses on Pacific Coast
  •  Architect - Ammi B. Young — Department of Treasury; Contractors — Gibbons & Kelly, Baltimore, Maryland
  •  Structure completed — 1854
  •  Third—order Fresnel lens originally intended for Humboldt Harbor installed 1855.
  •  First lighted November 15, 1855.
  •  Cost of lens and lantern as purchased from Sautter & Co., Paris, France — $3,810.
  •  Overall size of third—order lens 3.17 feet in diameter
  •  Height of lens — 462 feet above sea level (highest light in U.S.)
  •  Source of illumination — sperm oil, colza, lard oil, kerosene
  •  Distance visible - 28 miles
  •  Lighthouse deactivated — March 23, 1891 — lens removed
  •  Lighthouse structure restored by National Park Service — 1935.
  •  Fourth—order lens from Humboldt Harbor (Table Rock Light) (1.5 feet in diameter) loaned to NPS by Coast Guard in 1955. On exhibit in Old Point Loma Light 1955 — May 1981 — returned to Coast Guard, May 1981.
  •  Third—order Fresnel lens (from Mile Rock Light) loaned to Cabrillo National Monument, May 1981.
  •  Lens transfer — (off—loading from CG Cutter Rush) scheduled for Wednesday, May 20. 
  •  Lens will be on display in Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center until lighthouse tower and lantern is restored and can safely accommodate third—order lens.

"The long neck of land enclosing North San Diego Bay on the West side is known as Point Loma. The origin of the name comes from a legend of a flaxen haired little Russian girl, the sole survivor of a shipwreck, who was found wandering on shore. The local residents took her in and named her Loma and she grew up to become the cynosure of many ardent male eyes. A rejected suitor slew the girl and fled to the point where he met his rival on a narrow trail above the sea. A knife fight ensued and the men fell to their death on the rocks below. Legend has it that Point Loma was named after this girl. Actually the word ‘Loma’ in Portuguese means light.

Old Point Loma Light--the first lighthouse to be erected in Southern California as distinguished from the present Point Loma Light--was constructed in 1851 and presently being preserved as a memorial. Not used for lighthouse purposes since 1891, the old tower, was set aside by President Wilson in 1913 as a national monument and is now cared for by the U. S. Park Service. The old tower was abandoned because it was situated 462 feet above the sea. At this unusual height, the light was often obscured by high fogs. A romantic error attributes Old Point Loma Light to Spanish origin. When it was built some old Spanish tiles were used in its cellar floorings. That is the full scope of its Latin ancestry. Talk has it that the Spanish had a beacon on Point Loma in 1701, but it has never been verified.

In 1891 the current iron skeleton tower of the present Point Loma Light was built on the extremity of the point with the light only 88 feet above the water. Point Loma has a 600, 000 candlepower light which can be seen a distance of approximately 15 miles. In addition to the light, there is a two-tone diaphone fog signal, which, when operating in inclement weather, is synchronized with a radio-beacon every three minutes for distance finding. The skeleton frame of the light surrounds an enclosed stairway to the tower platform, where the lantern is located. At the base of the structure is the fog signal building.

Pathways, surrounded by lush green lawns provide access to three family dwellings and one bachelor quarters. The area is enclosed by a modern concrete block wall. At present, three wives, four children, and five men live in the quarters available." [Written by Harmon Lougher, Chief Photographer’s Mate, U. S. Coast Guard prior to 1973.]

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

POINT LOMA LIGHTHOUSE

Point Loma Light, circa 1871 (75 dpi); (300 dpi); photo by noted English photographer Eadweard Muybridge.


POINT MONTARA LIGHT

Location: Southern approach to San Francisco Bay
Station Established: 1875
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1928
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1970
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
Construction Materials: STEEL
Tower Shape: CONICAL
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL 1912

Historical Information:

A public information pamphlet published by the Coast Guard prior to 1970 noted that: "Point Montara Light Station was established in February 1875 at Montara, California approximately 25 miles south of San Francisco. Three men, including a First Class Boatswains Mate, as Officer-in-Charge, operate Point Montara Light, which provides a light and fog signal. This is a family station with quarters in a duplex constructed in 1961, which contains a 3 and bedroom unit. A house built in 1863 provides quarters with a 2 bedroom and. a separate relief keepers quarters. The station has no small boats assigned, but does have a pickup truck. Personnel and dependents at Point Montara utilize Government medical facilities, commissary and post exchange in the San Francisco area. The nearest school is within walking distance (1/4 mile) from the station." 

Currently there is no Coast Guard housing at the station.  The property is now a youth hostel, licensed to the California State Parks and Recreation Department.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

POINT MONTARA LIGHTHOUSE


POINT PINOS LIGHT

Location: South entrance to Monterey Bay, near Pacific Grove
Station Established: 1855
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1855
Operational? YES
Automated? 1975
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: STONE
Construction Materials: BRICK TOWER ON STONE HOUSE
Tower Shape: CONICAL ON SQUARE HOUSE
Markings/Pattern: WITE
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: THIRD ORDER FRESNEL

HISTORICAL INFORMATION:

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

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

POINT PINOS LIGHTHOUSE

Point Pinos Light, circa 1871 (75 dpi); (300 dpi); photo by noted English photographer Eadweard Muybridge.


POINT REYES (PUNTA DE LOS REYES) LIGHT

Location: Gulf of the Farallones
Station Established: 1870
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1870
Operational? NO
Automated? YES 1975
Deactivated: 1975
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
Construction Materials: CAST IRON W/BRICK LINING
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/RED ROOF
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: FIRST ORDER, ROTATING FRESNEL 1870

Historical Information:

A Coast Guard public information pamphlet published in March, 1962 noted that "Point Reyes Light Station was established in 1870 at Point Reyes, Calif., 19 miles from the nearest town of Inverness. It is a family station with a complement of four men who maintain a first order light, fog signal and radio beacon. The light tower itself is a sixteen-sided structure of forged iron plate (the original tower) bolted to solid rock. The top of the lantern is 37 feet above the ground and focal plane of the light is 294 feet above sea level. To reach the light, men assigned must descend 304 steps on the headland from the plateau above the station where the family quarters are situated. The quarters are new, two-story, four-family units (four-plex) built in 1960. The four-plex contains two 2-bedroom and two 3-bedroom units. Buildings maintained on the property, in addition to the family quarters, are the fog signal building, engine room, pump house, paint locker, double garage and a four-car carport with adjoining office and work shop.  Point Reyes is, by official records, the windiest and foggiest on the Pacific Coast. The station is frequently blanketed by week-long periods of fog and few years pass that do not see violent gales of 75 to 100 mph strike the area. Point Reyes Light Station is one of the District’s outstanding tourist attractions. On fair summer weekends we often have several hundred visitors logged aboard. Escorting visitors has become a major portion of the duties of men assigned. Dependent children on the station travel three miles by station vehicle to school. Commissary and post exchange privileges are available at Hamilton Air Force Base (the nearest armed forces installation), or in the San Francisco area."

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

POINT REYES LIGHTHOUSE

Punta de Los Reyes Light, circa 1871 (75 dpi); (300 dpi); photo by noted English photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

Other views, circa 1871: (75 dpi); (300 dpi)
                                    (75 dpi); (300 dpi)


POINT SUR LIGHT

Location: Moro Rock, near Big Sur
Station Established: 1889
Year Current / Last Tower(s) First Lit: 1889
Operational: Yes
Automated: 1972
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: Natural/Emplaced
Construction Materials: Sandstone
Tower Shape: Square on Fog Signal Building
Tower Height: 270 feet above water
Markings/Pattern: White Tower on Sandstone Building
Characteristic: Flashing White, 15 seconds
Relationship to Other Structure: Integral
Original Lens: First Order, Fresnel
Fog Signal: Diaphone, air, group of 2 blasts every 60 seconds, blast 2 seconds, silent 1 second, blast 3 seconds, silent 54 seconds.

Historical Information:

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

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

POINT SUR LIGHTHOUSE


POINT VICENTE LIGHT

Location: PALOS VERDES/NORTH OF LOS ANGELES HARBOR
Station Established: 1926
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1926
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1973
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
Construction Materials: CONCRETE
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: THIRD ORDER, FRESNEL 1926

Historical Information:

The Point Vicente Lighthouse is an important landmark and beacon light relied by thousands of ships and pleasure craft. It provides a means of fixing their position, and ensuring their safe passage up and down the coast. The Point Vicente Light Station has been guiding sailing vessels to and from the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbors since March 1926. It was first operated and maintained by the U.S. Lighthouse Service for 13 years prior to being taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard, which was delegated all aid-to-navigation responsibilities in 1939. The lighthouse was manned until 1971 when it was then automated by a remote electronic aids-to-navigation monitoring system.

The cylindrical tower is 67 feet tall, and it should be noted that the masonry structure is built on the edge of a 130-foot cliff. This places the center of the lantern 185 feet above the ocean, and because of this elevation, the 1.1 million candlepower-beam can be seen twenty miles away. The most beautiful part in the lighthouse is the classical third-order rotating Fresnel Lens located in the lantern This particular lens was manufactured around 1910 in Paris, France, by Barbier, Bernard and Turenne, the oldest lens making company in the world. This Lighthouse lens is made up of hand-ground prisms held in place by a cast brass frame. The prisms and frame represent an excellent example of the precision achieved by optical scientists and the lens making art in utilizing the known principles and ‘properties of light.

The Fresnel Lens was invented over a century and a half ago by the French geometrician and physicist Augustine Jean Fresnel (1788- - 1827) in 1822. Since that time Fresnel Lenses similar to the one at Point Vicente have been in service in lighthouses throughout the world.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

POINT VICENTE LIGHTHOUSE


PUNTA GORDA LIGHT

Location: TWELVE MILES SOUTH OF CAPE MENDOCINO; access by vehicle and 1½ hour hike on foot.
Station Established: 1911
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1912
Operational? NO
Automated? UNK
Deactivated: 1951
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
Construction Materials: REINFORCED CONCRETE
Tower Shape: SQUARE
Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/BLACK LANTERN
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, BULLS EYE 1912
Property now part of State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation
Occupants: None
 

Historical Information:

Punta Gorda originally consisted of 22 acres upon which were situated three dwellings, a small two-story concrete lighthouse, concrete oil house, a wooden fog signal building, blacksmith/carpenter-shop, three storage sheds, and a barn. In 1951 all aids-to-navigation were discontinued, the buildings boarded up and personnel was transferred. Whereabouts of the lens is unknown. The property was transferred to the Bureau of Land Management. In the late 1960’s "hippies" moved into the quarters and improved them. Local authorities evicted these people and the Bureau of Land Management burned all the buildings except the Lighthouse and oil house. Punta Gorda was and is a very difficult station to reach. Most of the years it was in operation access was via horse, and during good weather horse-drawn wagon. After the Coast Guar assumed command a rough road was constructed (that usually washed out) and a jeep was used for transportation.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

PUNTA GORDA LIGHTHOUSE


ROE ISLAND LIGHT

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:

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

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

Roe Island Light, 1924: (75 dpi) ; (300 dpi); Original caption: "Roe Island New Bulkheads Completed August 7, 1924."; photo dated 1924; Photo No. C94; photographer unknown.

Roe Island Light, 1924 (75 dpi) ; (300 dpi); Original caption: "Roe Island New Bulkheads Completed August 7, 1924."; photo dated 1924; Photo No. C88; photographer unknown.


SAN LUIS OBISPO (PORT HARFORD) LIGHT

Location: On Point San Luis, west side of the San Luis Obispo Bay, near Avila Beach
Station Established: 1890
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1890
Operational: No
Automated: 1974
Deactivated: 1975
Foundation Materials: Masonry
Construction Materials: Wood frame
Tower Shape: Octagonal lantern on square tower
Markings/Pattern: White
Characteristic: Flashing white, 20s (3s fl)
Relationship to Other Structure: Attached
Original Lens: Fourth Order, Fresnel
Fog Signal: 10-inch steam whistle

Historical Information:

The above was researched and drafted by Melissa Buckler, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

SAN LUIS OBISPO "PORT HARFORD" LIGHTHOUSE


SANTA BARBARA LIGHT

Location: 
Station Established: 
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 
Operational? 
Automated? 
Deactivated: 
Foundation Materials: 
Construction Materials: 
Tower Shape: 
Markings/Pattern: 
Relationship to Other Structure: 
Original Lens: 

Historical Information:

When Santa Barbara Lighthouse was established on December 1, 1856, it was typical of the other pioneer West Coast lights, with the tower rising through the center of the dwelling. The builder was George D. Nagle of San Francisco who received $8,000 for his efforts. The tower lantern was fitted with a fourth order lens and originally displayed a fixed red light, which in later years was changed to fixed white.

Women lighthouse keepers were not uncommon in early American lighthouses. Santa Barbara is a premier example. When the lighthouse was officially established in 1856, Albert Johnson Williams was appointed as the initial keeper. After nine years of operating the facility he grew tired of his routine chores and handed over the duties to his wife. She proved so adept at keeping a good house that the government made it official on June 5, 1865, with the appointment receiving a great amount of publicity in the locality. Taking great pride in her work, Mrs. Julia F. Williams kept at her duties for more than 40 years during which time she was only away from the lighthouse on two nights. During her faithful vigil only one shipwreck of consequence was recorded, the cause of which was carelessness on the part of the skipper who allowed his vessel to drift on the rocks. Julia Williams was a descendant of a Maine family and she had come to California with her husband during the gold rush era. She raised three boys and two girls at the lighthouse. In 1905, her vigil finally ended when she fell from a couch and broke her hip. She was 81 years old when she was relieved by another woman, a Mrs. Jones.

On June 29, 1925, a severe earthquake jolted the area and the aging lighthouse was unable to stand against it. It was 6:45 a.m. and keeper Weeks was asleep at the time. Suddenly and rudely awakened, he rushed from the dwelling, then hurried back inside to rescue his mother, sister, and brother. When the cloud of dust had settled, little was left of the old structure. A temporary frame tower was erected until a new lighthouse could be built.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

SANTA BARBARA LIGHTHOUSE


SANTA CRUZ LIGHT

Location: On point, west side of entrance to Santa Cruz Harbor
Station Established: 1869
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1869
Operational: No
Automated: No
Deactivated: 1941
Foundation Materials:
Construction Materials: Wood
Tower Shape: Square tower on roof of dwelling
Markings/Pattern: Originally white, later changed to red
Characteristic: Gp. Fl. W., 15 s
Relationship to Other Structure:
Original Lens: Fifth Order, Fresnel
Fog Signal:

Historical Information:

The above was researched and drafted by Melissa Buckler, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

SANTA CRUZ LIGHTHOUSE


SOUTHAMPTON SHOALS LIGHT

Location: In seven feet, on south end of Southampton Shoals, northeast of Angel Island in San Francisco Bay near Stockton.
Station Established: 1905
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1905
Operational: No
Automated: No
Deactivated: 1960
Foundation Materials: Wooden piles
Construction Materials: Wood
Tower Shape: Square (White square wooden building on piers)
Markings/Pattern: White
Characteristic: Fl. W., 4 s (1 s fl)
Relationship to Other Structure: Integral
Original Lens: Fifth Order, Fresnel
Fog Signal: Diaphone (gp of 2 blasts ev 30 s (2s bl-6s si-2s bl-20 s si))

Historical Information:

The above was researched and drafted by Melissa Buckler, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

SOUTHAMPTON SHOALS LIGHTHOUSE


ST. GEORGE REEF LIGHT

Location: SIX MILES OFF POINT ST. GEORGE
Station Established: 1867
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1892
Operational? NO
Automated? YES
Deactivated: 1975
Foundation Materials: ELLIPTICAL/CONCRETE/GRANITE
Construction Materials: GRANITE BLOCKS
Tower Shape: SQUARE
Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/BLACK LANTERN
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FIRST ORDER, FRESNEL 1892

Historical Information:

This lighthouse, built on a small rock only 300 feet in diameter, is one of the most exposed lighthouses on the Pacific coast. Extreme difficulties were encountered in constructing this tower, and 10 years were required before the work was completed. The total cost was $702,000 making it one of the most costly lighthouses ever constructed. The light was first displayed in 1892. The base of the tower is a solid block of concrete and granite, and the tower above is also built of granite blocks. The stone was quarried from granite boulders found on Mad River near Humboldt Bay. Probably the most violent storm experienced at this lighthouse was that of 1923, when huge seas from a northwesterly direction broke on the platform of the tower, 70 feet above water, with such violence as to tear the donkey-engine house from its foundation. Several men have been injured, and several men killed in transferring to this light by small boat.

An older Coast Guard public information pamphlet noted that: "St. George Reef Lighthouse represents one of the greatest challenges in U. S. lighthouse building history. Besides being one of the most expensive ever built at that time, it took eight years to complete. Great dressed granite blocks, 1339 or them, from Mad River, were used in construction. In 1892, after a cost or $712,000, the light went into service. It marks the site of the tragic sinking of the steamer Brother Jonathan.  There are ever-present hazards to be encountered in the manning or St. George Reef Lighthouse, located on storm-lashed Seal Rock. A boom lifts supplies and personnel to the lighthouse. The light stands 134 feet above the sea level. It is located approximately 10 miles west of Crescent City Harbor, and is manned by a crew of six. A 1,000,000 candlepower lamp, marker radiobeacon, and a two-tone diaphone fog signal is her armament against disaster to shipping. St. George’s light is displayed from one hour before sunset to one hour after sunrise."

  • St. George Reef Light now belongs to Del Norte County.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

SAINT GEORGE REEF LIGHTHOUSE


TABLE BLUFF LIGHT

RELOCATED FROM HUMBOLDT HARBOR
Station Established: 1892
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1892
Operational? NO
Automated? YES 1953
Deactivated: 1961
Foundation Materials:
Construction Materials: WOOD
Tower Shape: SQUARE
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: ATTACHED
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL

Historical Information:

The Humboldt Bay North Spit Lighthouse had for many years been criticized as being too low. In 1892 the Lighthouse Service constructed a light station on Table Bluff, a promontory south of Humboldt Bay, but within-view of the bay. The original station consisted of a duplex Victorian quarters, fog-signal building, and a keepers quarters with light tower attached. The quarters were redwood Italianette-stick Victorian, and the keepers quarters/ light tower were almost exactly the same as San Luis Obispo Light Station - the one at San Luis Obispo. There were also two wash houses, an oil house and a carpenter shop. In 1906 the Navy established a radio station on the property and during World War II the station was expanded to include lodging for mounted beach patrols, a coastal lookout post, and a radio compass station. During the war and immediately afterwards most of the original buildings were razed along with some of the newer structures. The quarters portion of the lighthouse was razed leaving only the tower. This and the fog signal building were all that remained of the original buildings. In 1953 the rotating 4th order lens was removed and a fixed 3 1/2 order lens installed. The 4th order optic was shipped to the Point Loma Light in San Diego which is operated as a museum by the National Park Service. The fog signal was discontinued the same year and the station automated. In 1975 the light was discontinued and the property transferred to GSA and sold. The 2 1/2 order lens was shipped to the Smithsonian.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

CIRCA 1911, SHOWING THE TABLE BLUFF LIGHT TOWER AND ATTACHED DWELLING

CIRCA 1951 OF THE TABLE BLUFF LIGHTHOUSE


TRINIDAD HEAD LIGHT

TRINIDAD HARBOR
Station Established: 1866
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1871
Operational? YES
Automated? YES  FEBRUARY 1974
Deactivated:
Foundation Materials: STONE
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Shape: SQUARE PYRAMIDAL
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL 1871
Current lens: 375 MM Optic
Radiobeacon, ELG 300 Electric Horn

Historical Information:

This low, square, brick tower, painted white, was built in 1871. The light is only 20 feet above ground, but the headland on which it stands gives it an elevation of 196 feet above the sea. The location is one of the most picturesque on the California coast. Despite the great height of the tower above the sea, heavy seas have been known to reach it. In 1913, the keeper made the following report: "At 4:40 p. m. I observed a sea of unusual height. When it struck the bluff the jar was very heavy. The lens immediately stopped revolving. The sea shot up the face of the bluff and over it, until the solid sea seemed to me to be on a level with where I stood in the lantern. The sea itself fell over onto the top of the bluff and struck the tower about on a level with the balcony. The whole point between the tower and the bluff was buried in water."

Trinidad Head (as of February 11, 1981)
4th Order Fresnel Lens – Fog Bell (1898)
Location: 15 miles north of Eureka, California.

The station originally consisted of the small tow-story light tower, a single Victorian residence, and a small barn. In 1898, a bell house was constructed and a 4,000 pound bell was added that was operated by weights. A second keeper was assigned at that time and the quarters were expanded to accommodate two families. In 1947, the lens was changed from 4th Order to a 375 MM and the fog signal changed to an air horn. The town of Trinidad Head constructed a facsimile of the tower in a park overlooking the harbor and installed the original lens in its structure. The 4,000 pound bell is displayed alongside the tower. In the late 1960s, the Coast Guard razed the original dwelling and barn and constructed the present triplex. The fog signal was discontinued when the station was automated in 1974. However, the complaints from the citizens of Trinidad Head were so vocal that the Coast Guard was forced to install the present ELG 300, operated by fog detector. The new fog signal is operated in the original bell house. The original tower remains basically unchanged.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

TRINIDAD HEAD LIGHTHOUSE


YERBA BUENA ISLAND (GOAT ISLAND) LIGHT

Location: San Francisco Bay
Station Established: 1875
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1875
Operational: Yes
Automated: 1958
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: Masonry
Construction Materials: Wood frame with iron lantern room
Tower Shape: Octagonal
Markings/Pattern: White
Characteristic: Gp. Fl. W., 15 seconds (2 s fl., 1 s ec., 2  s fl., 10 s ec. 2 flashes)
Relationship to Other Structure: Separate
Original Lens: Fifth Order, Fresnel
Fog Signal: Diaphone: 1 blast every 20 seconds (3 s bl)

Historical Information:

The above was researched and drafted by Melissa Buckler, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.

Photographs (click on light name below to access image): 

YERBA BUENA "GOAT ISLAND" LIGHTHOUSE

The Coast Guard Pacific Area Historian, Dr. David Rosen, submitted color photos from a visit in 2007.  

Yerba Buena tower

Yerba Buena quarters

Yerba Buena tower from another angle


Much of the historical information included on this page was provided by Ms. Anne Puppa of the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society and we are grateful for her efforts.


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Last Modified 9/16/2013