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Pigeon Point Lighthouse – A Historical Landmark

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Located just south of the lovely seaside town of Pescadero (about 35 minutes from Inn at Mavericks) stands the picturesque Pigeon Point Lighthouse. This 144 year old icon is considered to be the tallest operating lighthouse on the West Coast (115-ft.) and one of the most recognizable in the Western United States. For over 140 years the lighthouse has guided ships in and out of the harbor and has served as a major coastal California treasure that has drawn hundreds of thousand of visitors each year. Today, the lighthouse and grounds have been designated a California State Park and are considered to be a California Historical Landmark listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

The History of Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Stairs

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Staircase

In the late 1800’s many clipper ships made the perilous journey to San Francisco along the rugged Northern California coastline. on January 28, 1853 a clipper ship called the Carrier Pigeon left Boston to deliver goods to San Francisco. The ship made it to Santa Cruz by June 6th of that same year but as night approached it became increasingly more foggy. Captain Azariah Doane believed the ship to be far away from the shore (due to the fog) and ordered the ship to sail towards the shore. Shortly after sailing eastward towards the shore, the ship hit the rocky bottom of the coastline and was wrecked 500 feet away from the shore. In 1871, after three more large shipwrecks had occurred in area, the lighthouse tower was built on the point near the Carrier Pigeon’s wreck and named after the ship. A year later on the evening of November 15, 1872, a first-order Fresnel lens (the most powerful lens in that time) was installed and lit in the lighthouse.

Modern Day Challenges Affecting the Lighthouse

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Fresnel Lens

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Fresnel Lens

After over a century of exposure to rain, wind, fog, sun, and sea mist the lighthouse is in dire need of restoration. The California State Parks Foundation has completed an interim stabilization of the tower until funds can be generated for a complete restoration. Part of the temporary stabilization of the tower involved removing the lens from the tower to protect it from structural failure of the tower and to keep its weight from putting a strain on the crumbling tower. The massive lens is comprised of 1,008 separate lenses and prisms and weighs approximately 4,000 pounds with its pedestal and turning mechanism. The lens is currently on display in the Fog Signal building for visitors to admire. Once the funds have been raised for a complete restoration of the tower (nearly 12 million dollars) the lens will be put back in its place at the top of the tower.

What We Can Do to Help Restore the Lighthouse

The California State Parks Foundation has started a special campaign dedicated solely to restoring this California Historical landmark so that future generations can enjoy this magnificent resource. To contribute to the restoration of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse visit the Light Up The Future Campaign Donation Page.

Visiting Information

Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park is open to visitors daily from 8:00am to Sunset. The visitor center is open Thursday-Monday 10am to 4pm (weather permitting). The lighthouse is currently closed to the public until the structure can be restored. Visitors are welcome to view the lighthouse from the grounds.

For more information visit: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=533

Special Events

144th Anniversary of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse

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Celebrate the Pigeon Point Lighthouse’s 144th Anniversary at the Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park on November 12, 2016 from 1pm to 7pm.

There will be live music, tours, a native plant sale, informational booth, children’s activities, and even a maritime author and historian onsite. Don’t miss the Fresnel Lens Lighting in the museum from 5pm-7pm.

For more information visit: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=533