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Lighthouses - Calif Central

Lighthouses in California - North

North of the Golden Gate


St George Reef Lighthouse

St George Reef was a notorious hazard to navigation, commented on as early as 1579 by Sir Francis Drake. After the sinking of the steamer Brother Jonathan in 1865 with the loss of 244 passengers a project to place a light on the reef was begun.

It was extremely difficult to build, requiring a fifty foot granite block platform rising from the barely-awash rocks, surmounted by a strongly built tower housing keeper's quarters and the lantern. It took nine years and was the most expensive lighthouse ever built in the U.S.

This was a notorious hardship post, isolated, uncomfortable, and dangerous. Storm waves were known to break as high as the lantern, 150 feet above sea level. Supply boats were hoisted right out of the water by crane. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1975, replaced by a buoy.

Unfortunately this historic treasure and engineering wonder is very hard to see. On clear days it can be spotted from shore, six miles away. For a number of years there were helicopter trours in good weather. The first-order Fresnel lens was removed in 1983 and can be seen at the Del Norte County Historical Museum in Crescent City.

Wikipedia article: St. George Reef Light

 thumbnail - On the windy tip west side of Point Saint George

On the windy tip west side of Point Saint George

Crescent City, California

August 10, 2008
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Point Saint George

Trinidad Head Lighthouse

The real lightouse at Trinidad Head, as distinct from the replica in the town, is 196 feet above sea level on the seaward face of the massive rock. A record 200 foot rogue wave struck here in 1914, reaching as high as the tower of the lighthouse.

The original 1871 tower is still in place, and can be glimpsed (barely) from the trail that circles the head.

Wikipedia article: Trinidad Head Light

 thumbnail - On the western clifftop of Trinidad Head

On the western clifftop of Trinidad Head

Trinidad, California

August 7, 2008
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Trinidad

Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse

The citizens of the small town of Trinidad, a fishing port sheltered behind Trinidad Head, built a replica of the Trinidad light tower in 1949. It is located on the bluff between the town and the little harbor and is a memorial to fishermen lost at sea. The 4000 pound (1800 kg) bell is from the original location, where it was installed in its own tower and rung by clockwork and weights as a fog signal.

Wikipedia article: Trinidad, California

 thumbnail - A clear and calm evening at the Trinidad Lighthouse

A clear and calm evening at the Trinidad Lighthouse

Trinidad, California

June 15, 2002
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Trinidad
Trinidad Head

Table Bluff Lighthouse, now at Woodley Island

Table Bluff is a flat-topped ridge that runs out to the coast between the south end of Humboldt Bay and the marshy pasturelands of the Eel River delta. The light was retired and its tower relocated for display at Woodley Island in the city of Eureka.

The original Victorian buildings were razed by the Coast Guard and replaced with modern concrete facilities. But the Point San Luis Lighthouse keepers house and tower near Avila are almost identical and have been restored.

Wikipedia article: Table Bluff Light

 thumbnail - The Fisherman Memorial on Woodley Island in Eureka

The Fisherman Memorial on Woodley Island in Eureka

Woodley Island, Eureka, California

January 19, 2008
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Port of Eureka
Table Bluff and South Spit

Punta Gorda Lighthouse

There isn't much to see of the Punta Gorda Light. After its abandonment it was taken over by squatters. The Coast Guard solved the nuisance by demolishing most of the buildings.

Wikipedia article: Punta Gorda Light

 thumbnail - Tidepools at Punta Gorda

Tidepools at Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda, near Petrolia, California

April 26, 2004
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Punta Gorda
Samoa

Cape Mendocino Lighthouse

The lighthouse at Cape Mendocino had a 43 foot tower but was located 420 feet above sea level, the highest beam anywhere in the U.S. The location was very remote and the facility was abandoned after a modern beacon was installed. The lens was removed in 1949 and ever since has been displayed at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Ferndale.

I actually hiked out there (nervously trespassing) to photograph the old iron tower, but had to back off at the last minute because a security patrol showed up. A few years later, the tower was dismantled and reassembled in the town of Shelter Cove.

Wikipedia article: Cape Mendocino Light

 thumbnail - Mal Coombes Park, with the relocated Cape Mendocino Lighthouse

Mal Coombes Park, with the relocated Cape Mendocino Lighthouse

Shelter Cove, California

January 21, 2008
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Shelter Cove
Cape Mendocino
Ferndale

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Point Cabrillo Light is a nice example of a keeper's house with light tower at one end. It was in use until 1973. In the 1990's the light station and surrounding land were acquired by the California Coastal Conservancy and in 2002 sold to California State Parks. It has been fully restored to its 1930's apppearance, and is one of the most complete assemblages of lighthouse buildings.

Wikipedia article: Point Cabrillo Light

 thumbnail - Rain and wind at dusk, the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Rain and wind at dusk, the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, California

November 12, 2007
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Point Cabrillo
Noyo
Mendocino Headlands State Park

Point Arena Lighthouse

The original Point Arena lighthouse was weakened by the 1906 earthquake (the one that destroyed San Francisco) and had to be demolished. The replacement looks at first like a traditional lighthouse tower, but it was made of reinforced concrete by a company that specialized in factory chimneys.

Wikipedia article: Point Arena Light

 thumbnail - East from Point Arena Lighthouse

Looking east (inland) from the top of the ligthhouse

Point Arena Lighthouse and Museum, California

June 27, 2011
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Point Arena

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Many people visit Point Reyes Lighthouse, but many also change their minds, either because of the 300 steps down the ridge, or because of daunting wind and thick fog. But on a clear day it can be an amazing experience. In addition to the dramatically situated lighthouse, elephant seals breed in a cove at the base of the cliffs and sea birds whiz past continuously.

Wikipedia article: Point Reyes Lighthouse

 thumbnail - A rest platform part way down the lighthouse stairs

A rest platform part way down the lighthouse stairs

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

December 4, 2006
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Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Headland
Chimney Rock Trail

Point Bonita Lighthouse

It is a short and level, but dramatic, walk out to the Point Bonita Lighthouse. The path goes through a tunnel, along a knife-edge with crashing surf below on both sides, then crosses a deep gap on a suspension bridge. It is at the west opening of the Golden Gate strait , part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Wikipedia article: Point Bonita Lighthouse

 thumbnail - Approaching Point Bonita Lighthouse north of the Golden Gate

Approaching Point Bonita Lighthouse north of the Golden Gate

Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

August 29, 2005
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Point Bonita
Hawk Hill
SF-88 Nike Missile Site at Fort Barry

South Farallon Island Lighthouse

Nearly impossible to visit, South Farallon Island is managed as a bird refuge and requires a special permit to land. The lighthouse is perched at the top of the conical central hill. Visitors (mostly ornithologists) are required to wear hard hats at all times because of dive-bombing protective parent birds.

The lighthouse has functionally been replaced by an automated beacon. Its first-order Fresnel lens is now on display in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park visitor center at Fisherman's Wharf.

Wikipedia article: Farallon Island Light

 thumbnail - Farallon Island Lighthouse Lens

The first-order Fresnel lens from the lighthouse on South Farallon Island, on display at the Maritime Museum

San Francisco, California

July 15, 2010
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Hyde Street Pier

Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City

This charming little Victorian lighthouse dates from 1856, one of the first generation of nine federally funded navigation lights on the Pacific coast. It is actually on an island, barely offshore, and only reachable on foot at low tide. Like several others it consists of a keeper's house with the lighthouse tower on top, but unlike most the house is built of stone and the tower of brick.

Wikipedia article: Battery Point Light

 thumbnail - Picturesque Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City

Picturesque Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City

Crescent City, California

August 10, 2008
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Battery Point
Crescent City

Previous Thematic Listing:
Lighthouses - Oregon
Next Thematic Listing:
Lighthouses - Calif Central