Point Arena Light Station

It’s now another day and onto another lighthouse! Friday we visited Point Cabrillo…Saturday morning was Point Arena’s turn!

When I awoke, I saw stars up in the sky and immediately thought YEA! Maybe no fog today! My husband wanted a morning walk so under Hwy 1 we went and wandered the beach where Pudding Creek empties into the ocean. Absolutely beautiful morning…

Then I looked out towards the ocean…ACK!…a Stephen King Fog Bank was rolling in! We gotta get our butts down to Point Arena before it hits!

The lady at Point Cabrillo said it takes 1.5 hours to drive from Fort Bragg to Point Arena…not nah…not in our Pontiac G6 GT it didn’t. We were early. The grounds don’t open until 10 (but the gate was open so we drove in…and was promptly told to drive back out…insurance reasons. LOL!).

Guess what?

We didn’t beat the fog. But isn’t she beautiful? She’s the only lighthouse on the west coast of any height that you can climb all the way to the top!

A little history first…the original lighthouse was constructed in 1870 with brick and mortar with a large Keeper residence (3 stories high) that housed several families. Then along came the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 which so severely damaged the lighthouse and residence that they were condemned and torn down. A new lighthouse was built by a San Francisco company that mainly built factory smokestacks…no longer was the lighthouse a cone shape, but is practically straight up and down. Made of steel reinforced rods encased in concrete. 18 months after the earthquake the new lighthouse began operation.

It stands 115 feet tall!

It housed a 1st Order Fresnel Lens, made in France, that is over 6′ in diameter and weighed more than six tons. (It now sits in the Fog Signal Building) There are 666 hand-ground glass prisms with three sets of double bulls-eyes that gave the lighthouse it’s signature two flashes every six seconds. The light could be seen up to 20 miles out to sea.

That big boy sat on a mercury bearing drive unit that had to be hand-cranked (like a grandfather clock) EVERY 75 minutes! The 160-pound weight was housed in a pipe in the middle of the spiral stair case.

The Fog Signal building from the top of the lighthouse. There’s a Devil’s Punchbowl to the upper right side…it’s been pretty much eroded away, but there’s another one starting to form!

The Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers acquired the light station in 1984 as part of a 25 year land lease from the US Coast Guard…they did such an awesome job of restoring and upkeep that they became the official property owners in 2000. The cost of the tour and roaming on the grounds is $7.50 (YES! That’s it! So please donate more at the gift shop that is housed in the Fog Signal Building!!!!)

OH! You can also rent out the Keeper’s homes on the property as vacation rentals!

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park

On our trip to Fort Bragg, California over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had three goals…Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, Point Arena Lighthouse, and Glass Beach.

I’m glad I got to see Point Cabrillo Light Station as California has decided to close it down in 2012 due to their budget crisis. :(

It’s about a 1600 meter walk from the parking lot down to the lighthouse…very nice walk, not hard at all.

The lighthouse was built (starting in 1908) to guide small schooners that carried lumber down to San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. The earthquake damaged the Point Arena lighthouse leaving no lighthouses between Cape Mendocino and Bodega Bay.

It houses a British built 3rd Order Frensel Lens by Chance Brothers and was first lit on June 10, 1909. It is one of only twelve in the United States and has 90 glass prism pieces…it has a 10-second flash that can be seen up to 15 miles out.

The lighthouse sits on the second of five coastal terraces…

Overlooking a very large amount of sea palms!

Looking north towards the 1850 FROLIC shipwreck site.

Glass Beach Treasures

We sent two days at Fort Bragg, California over Thanksgiving weekend. Visited two lighthouses and Glass Beach…which is at the end of Elm Street.

Glass Beach is the leftovers of a 1949 public dump…most everything was cleaned up around 1967, but lots of glass stayed behind and continues to be washed up. The whole beach is covered in glass…I kept throwing the not so tumbled pieces back into the ocean. I picked a few pieces up, along with a ceramic insulator/spark plug and some pottery shards.

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Adding a picture of the beach to show HOW MUCH glass is there…there is so much, I just picked a few pieces. I did see families out there with buckets.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Saturday we drove up to Point Reyes (was in San Francisco for Friday’s Giants game) National Seashore to see the lighthouse. It was an absolutely beautiful drive…probably not a good road for those that get car sick though. Many historic (1850′s) cattle ranches and dairy farms dot the coastal grasslands.

Point Reyes is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the North American continent. Weeks of fog, especially during the summer months, frequently reduce visibility to hundreds of feet. The Point Reyes Headlands, which jut 10 miles out to sea, pose a threat to each ship entering or leaving San Francisco Bay. The historic Point Reyes Lighthouse warned mariners of danger for more than a hundred years.

The Point Reyes Lighthouse, built in 1870, was retired from service in 1975 when the U.S. Coast Guard installed an automated light. They then transferred ownership of the lighthouse to the National Park Service, which has taken on the job of preserving this fine specimen of our heritage.

Cattle grazing in the upper right.

The lighthouse parking lot is at the end of the road…which was PACKED! So we found a roadside parking spot back down the road and walked to the lighthouse visitor center which was about a 1/2 mile uphill hike from the parking lot.

Lupine along the cliff side walk up to the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

The whale migration was still ongoing at the time, so the observation deck, at the visitor center, had binoculars and identification guides available. There was a sighting of a mama and her calf. The deck was also a place for the smart people to wait while the rest of us hiked down over 300 feet to the Lighthouse…over 308 steps (they did not count the part of the trail that was a steep ramp with no steps). They said it’s the equivalent of walking down and up a 30 story building.