California State Parks Lighthouses

Pictured is Point Sur Lighthouse

PIGEON POINT - Located near Pescadero, along Highway 1 in San Mateo County, the Pigeon Point Light Station was established in 1871, and first lit in 1872. California State Parks, in partnership with the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), a leading private, public benefit land trust, made an application to acquire the lighthouse in 2002. In March 2004, the National Park Service selected California State Parks to own and manage the lighthouse and supervise restoration efforts.

Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, about 300 lighthouses were transferred, because GPS, Global Positioning Satellite technology, rendered them obsolete. Pigeon Point was the second light station to be transferred to California State Parks

POINT CABRILLO Light Station State Historic Park

Lighthouse Information: 707-937-6122
Address: 12301 N. Highway 1, Box 1, Mendocino CA 95460

This lighthouse on the Mendocino Coast has the light keeper house available for rent. Lighthouse History and Frolic Shipwreck Exhibit, and Lightkeepers Home & Museum open every day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nature preserve is open daily until 1/2 hour after Sunset. For information call 707 937-6122.

Point Cabrillo Light Station houses a third order, British-built Fresnel lens by Chance Bros. The lens is located in the light tower and has a range of 13-15 miles. First powered by a kerosene oil lamp, it is one of only three examples in the U.S. of British-built lenses still in operation. Head keeper Wilhelm Baumgartner lit the lens for the first time on June 10,1909. Built and managed by the US. Lighthouse Service under the Department of Commerce the original Point Cabrillo Light Station included most the buildings still standing today. Three lightkeeper's residences, coal buildings, a carpentry shop and smithy, and the oil house are original--the pump house and water tank are not. The Coast Guard took ownership in 1939 and families lived in the lighthouse quarters until 1992 when a conservancy was formed and took over operations of the the light station.

Originally the lens rotated by means of a clockworks mechanism with a descending weight. A chain with a 65-80 LB weight on the end of it passed through the floor of each level of the light tower. The light keeper would crank up the chain onto a drum every 2 hours. The lens rotated at a fixed speed and produced a flash at ten second intervals. The rotation pattern of a lighthouse is printed on the nautical chart, it's the lighthouse signature and must not vary.

In 2002 ownership of the light station was transferred from the California State Coastal Conservancy to California State Parks providing $4 million dollars from State Parks to the restoration of the remaining buildings at the light station. Point Cabrillo Light Station was listed in 2011 as one of 70 state parks facilities facing potential closure due to budget constraints.


POINT SUR - Light Station was transferred to California State parks in April 2004 by Secretary Norton.

Tour Info: 831-625-4419 (Closed to public except by guided tour.)
Mailing Address: Big Sur Station #1, Big Sur, CA 93920

The Point Sur Lightstation sits 361 feet above the surf on a large volcanic rock. Point Sur is the only complete turn-of-the century Lightstation open to the public in California, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. First lit on August 1, 1889, the lighthouse has remained in continuous operation. Lighthouse keepers and their families lived at the site from 1889 to 1974 when the lighthouse was automated. Today the Lightstation buildings are being restored through the efforts of park staff, State Park volunteers and the non-profit Central Coast Lighthouse Keepers. The Lightstation is open to the public only through docent-led tours.


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