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.

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.

Point Pinos Lighthouse ~ Monterey Peninsula

Took a 3-day trip to Seaside and Monterey, California over Thanksgiving Holiday…visited the Point Pinos Lighthouse for the first time.

Point Pinos is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the western coast of the United States. It’s been in operation since 1 February 1855 ~ while Alcatraz Island Lighthouse preceded it by 8 months, it was replaced in 1909, therefore out of operation for a bit.

The lens is a third order Fresnel that was manufactured in France in 1853. A larger, second-order lens had been planned, but a delay in shipment caused the lens that was destined for Fort Point Lighthouse in San Francisco to be installed instead.

The first light source was a lantern of whale oil which was forced up from a tank by a gravity-operated piston. Whale oil was soon replaced by Lard oil which in turn was replaced by kerosene in 1880. During the turn of the century an incandescent vapor lamp was used followed by electric lights in 1919. A falling weight mechanism rotated a metal shield around the beam to cut off the light to seaward for 10 out of every 30 seconds from 1912 through 1940. Afterwards a timed flasher provided the signal.

The present light source is located 89 feet above sea level ~ it is a 1000 watt bulb which is then amplified by the lenses and prisms to produce a 50,000 candlepower beam visible under favorable conditions up to 17 miles. It’s permanently on now and it’s present signal is a simple 3-second on, 1-second off signature. Further navigational aid was added in a Class D radio beacon which was operated continuously and had a 20 mile range. The radio beacon and a foghorn, which was located below the lighthouse closer to the shore and manually operated by the Coast Guard, when needed, was deactivated in 1993 with the advent of global positioning satellite.

The name Punta de los Pinos, Point of the Pines, was named by Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602 during an exploration of the California coastline for the Count of Monterrey. Franciscan missionaries explored the area in 1769 where a Father Crespi mentions a freshwater pond in his diaries, now believed to be Crespi Pond, just past the lighthouse. In 1850, after the Mexican War and the American acquistion of Alta California, Congress appropriated funds for the construction of lighthouses on the west coast…one being Point Pinos, the dangerous southern entrance to Monterery Bay. Construction began in 1853, but with the difficulties in the delivery of the lenses and prisms from France the opening was delayed until 1855.

The stone building, lenses and prisms of the light are all orginial and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The lighthouse and grounds are open from 1-4 pm Thursday-Monday. You can call them at 831-648-5716. Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

Pictures taken by myself on 29 November 2008 and information taken from the Pacific Grove Museum lighthouse handout.