Lighthouses of the United States: Southern California

Formerly a Mexican territory, California became part of the U.S. after the Mexican War of 1848. The famous Gold Rush began in 1849, and the first lighthouses were built a few years later. These early lights, like the Old Point Loma Light shown below, were built in what was then a typical New England style. Ironically, there are no examples of this style surviving in New England, so the only place to see these traditional New England lighthouses is on the Pacific coast.

This page includes the lighthouses of the Southern California coasts, from the Mexican border north through San Luis Obispo County. Lighthouses of Northern California are on a separate page.

Interest in lighthouses is certainly high in California, and several new lighthouses have been built recently in Santa Cruz and Long Beach.

Navigational aids in the United States are operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, but ownership (and sometimes operation) of historic lighthouses has been transferred to local authorities and preservation organizations in many cases. Aids to navigation in California are maintained by the Eleventh Coast Guard District.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume G of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. USCG numbers are from Vol. VI of the USCG Light List.

General Sources
California Lighthouses
An excellent site by Kraig Anderson, with information and photos on each of the light stations.
Online List of Lights - California
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
California Lighthouses
Fine photos of 33 sites by Robert English.
California Lighthouses
A site by Ed Litfin, with very fine photos, maps, and visitor information.
Lighthouses of California
Collection of photos by Bryan Penberthy and Michael Jackman.
Lighthouses in California, United States
Aerial photos posted by Marinas.com.
Light Station Information and Photography - California
Information and historic photos posted by the U.S. Coast Guard.
World of Lighthouses - California and Hawaii
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Lighthouses in California
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
Leuchttürme USA auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
NOAA Nautical Chart On-Line Viewer: Pacific Coast
Nautical charts for the coast can be viewed online.
U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center: Light Lists
The USCG Light List can be downloaded in pdf format.
USLHS - Light Lists
Data from historic light lists collected and posted by the U.S. Lighthouse Society.

Point Vicente Light
Point Vicente Light, Palos Verde, June 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Dhrupad Bezboruah

New Point Loma Light
New Point Loma Light, San Diego, March 2012
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Erin and Lance Willett

San Diego County Lighthouses
* Harbor Island (Tom Ham's Lighthouse)
1971. Active; focal plane 56 ft (17 m); white flash every 4 s. Approx. 50 ft (15 m) octagonal light tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story restaurant building. Sarah Biggart has a 2009 closeup photo, Trabas has Douglas Cameron's photo, and Google has a street view and a good aerial view. The restaurant was renovated and restored in 2013. Located at the west end of Harbor Island in downtown San Diego. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS USA-1439; Admiralty G3702; USCG 6-1700.
* San Diego Entrance Range Rear (Shelter Island)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 55 ft (17 m); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. Approx. 50 ft (15 m) square skeletal tower. The tower carries a rectangular slatted daymark painted red with a white vertical stripe. Trabas has Douglas Cameron's photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The front light is on tripod pilings. Located at the western end of Shelter Island on the north side of San Diego Bay. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS USA-1440; Admiralty G3679.1; USCG 6-1505.
Point Loma (2) (New Point Loma)
1891. Active; focal plane 88 ft; white flash every 15 s. 70 ft (21 m) square pyramidal skeletal tower with central cylinder. Tower painted white, lantern and watch room black. Two 2-story wood Spanish revival keeper's houses, white with red roofs, are used as Coast Guard housing. The original 3rd order Fresnel lens, removed in 2002, is on display at the Old Point Loma Light keeper's quarters (next entry). Fog horn (blast every 30 s when needed) at base of the tower. Erin and Lance Willett's photo is at the top of this page, English has a good closeup photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view and a street view from the end of Cabrillo Road. The only surviving tower of its type on the Pacific Coast, this lighthouse is a sibling of the Coney Island Light in New York. In 2001, the Coast Guard had a engineering firm studying the condition and future of the lighthouse. A new LED lamp was installed in February 2013. Located at the southernmost tip of Point Loma, marking the entrance to San Diego's harbor. Site and tower closed, but the lighthouse can be viewed from the parking area at Cabrillo National Monument. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-626; Admiralty G3676; USCG 6-0005.
**** Point Loma (1) (Old Point Loma)
1855. Inactive since 1891 (lit decoratively; the light source is offset from the center of the lens so the light is of no navigational value). Charted as a landmark. 46 ft (14 m) round cylindrical brick tower rising from the roof of 1-1/2 story sandstone keeper's house. The 3rd order Fresnel lens from the Miles Rocks Light, San Francisco, is mounted in the tower. Lighthouse painted white, lantern black. A photo is at right, Lighthouse Digest has Gene Wild's July 2005 article on the history of the lighthouse, Anderson has a great page, Mike Nelson has posted a virtual tour, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a closeup street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse had a focal plane of 462 ft (141 m), but this proved to be too high: the light was often obscured by low clouds or fog. In June 2003 the lighthouse was closed for six months while the station was restored to its 1880s appearance. The assistant keeper's house was reconstructed to serve as a visitor center and museum; the 3rd order Fresnel lens from the 1891 lighthouse and the 4th order Fresnel lens from the Ballast Point lighthouse are on display. Located at the end of CA 209 on Point Loma, at the western end of San Diego. Site open, lighthouse and tower open daily except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Owner: U.S. National Park Service. Site manager: Cabrillo National Monument. ARLHS USA-627.
Old Point Loma Light
Old Point Loma Light, San Diego, October 2007
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Crosby Harbison
* [Ballast Point (1) (lantern)]
1890. Inactive since 1959. Lantern painted white with a red roof. A photo is available, Anderson has a page for the lighthouse, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The 4th order lens from this lighthouse is displayed at Old Point Loma Light (see above). The Ballast Point lighthouse was a sibling of the San Luis Obispo lighthouse (see below). The San Diego History Center has a memoir of life at the station by Norma Engel, daughter of longtime keeper Herman Engel. The historic lighthouse was demolished in 1959, and the light was transferred to the fog bell tower (next entry). The lantern somehow came into private hands. In 1961 the fog bell tower was deactivated and the active light (focal plane 16 ft (5 m); white flash every 4 s) was moved to a small platform offshore (Google has a satellite view). In 1998 Rod Cardoza, co-owner of the West Sea Company, a nautical antiques dealer, purchased the lantern and had it placed on the sidewalk outside the shop at 2495 Congress Street in Old Town San Diego. Site open. ARLHS USA-033; Admiralty G3680; USCG 6-1570.
Ballast Point (2)
1890 (not lit until 1959). Inactive since 1961. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) square wood tower with gallery. A YouTube slideshow has photos of the tower and historical information, Anderson has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. The fog bell tower was sold or given to Monroe Platt of Lakeside, and the bell wound up in private hands in La Mesa. In 1989 the bell was donated to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, where it is on display. In 2011 Platt's daughter Judy Bowen announced that she was interested in donating the fog bell tower for preservation on a new location. Located behind a private residence at 10611 Palm Row Drive in Lakeside. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: private.
Mission Bay (North Jetty)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 42 ft (13 m); green flash every 6 s. 39 ft (12 m) square cylindrical skeletal tower carrying a square green daymark. Fog horn (on demand: two blasts every 20 s). A view from the sea is available, and Google has a satellite view. Mission Bay is a protected lagoon on the north side of the mouth of the San Diego River. Located at the end of the north breakwater at the Mission Bay entrance. Accessible only by boat (the breakwater is not walkable). Site open, tower closed. Admiralty G3718.2; USCG 6-0030.
Camp Pendleton South
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 53 ft (16 m); white flash every 4 s. Approx. 50 ft (15 m) square cylindrical unpainted concrete control tower. Paul G. Ku has a photo, the tower can be seen near the beach in an aerial photo (click on the photo for enlargement), and Google has a good satellite view. This is the control tower for the U.S. Navy's West Coast LCAC Base (an LCAC - landing craft-air cushion - is a hovercraft used in amphibious assaults). Located just off the beach at the LCAC launching ramp about 8 mi (13 km) northwest of Oceanside. Site and tower closed; there may be a view from the San Diego Freeway (I-5). Owner: U.S. Navy. Site manager: Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Admiralty G3732; USCG 6-0050.

Orange County Lighthouse
Anaheim Bay Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 56 ft (17 m); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 52 ft (16 m) square skeletal tower carrying a rectangular daymark colored red with a white vertical stripe. Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located on the south side of the Pacific Coast Highway (CA 1) in Seal Beach. Site and tower closed (military reservation). Site and tower closed, but easy to see from the CA 1 freeway. Site manager: U.S. Navy (Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach). Admiralty G3878.1; USCG 6-2785.

Los Angeles County Lighthouses
* Parker's Lighthouse
1982. Active (?) (privately maintained); focal plane 71 ft (21.5 m); white flash every 10 s. Lantern centered at the peak of the roof on a round 2-1/2 story restaurant. The architects of the building have a portfolio of photos. Robert Lazo has a closeup photo, and Google has a satellite view. The building was renovated in 1998-99. The light was dropped from the U.S. Coast Guard Light List in 2009, so it is either inactive or no longer official. Located in Shoreline Village on the east side of the small boat basin, opposite the Long Beach Lions Light. Site and lighthouse open daily. Owner: Select Restaurants. Site manager: Parker's Lighthouse. ARLHS USA-1238; ex-USCG 6-2925.
* Long Beach Lions (Lions Lighthouse for Sight)
2000. Active (privately maintained and unofficial); focal plane 105 ft (32 m); continuous white light. 65 ft (20 m) steel tower with harbor master's office in the base. Lighthouse painted white, gallery black, lantern red. Dana Robinson's photo is at right, another good photo is available, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a good satellite view. 40% of the funding for the lighthouse was raised by the Long Beach Downtown Lions Club, and the lighthouse is known as the Lions Lighthouse for Sight. The lighthouse was dedicated on 10 December 2000. Located just to the east of the Aquarium of the Pacific on the north side of the entrance to Long Beach harbor and the west side of the small boat basin. Owner/site manager: City of Long Beach.
Pier J South Range Front
Date unknown. Active (privately maintained); focal plane 64 ft (19.5 m); continuous green light. Light mounted atop a waterfront office building. The building is seen in a photo (under the legs of the crane), and Google has a satellite view. The range guides vessels entering the Pier J container terminal, at the south end of the Long Beach commercial harbor. Located on the pier. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: Cosco Container Lines Americas. USCG 6-3009.1.

Long Beach Lions Light, Long Beach, September 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Dana Robinson
Pier J South Range Rear
Date unknown. Active (privately maintained); focal plane 80 ft (24 m); continuous green light. 74 ft (22.5 m) triangular cylindrical skeletal tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the base of Pier J. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: Cosco Container Lines Americas. USCG 6-3009.2.
Long Beach Back Channel South Sector Light
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 120 ft (36.5 m); red, green or white lights, in various combinations. Approx. 112 ft (34 m) triangular skeletal tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. These lights guide vessels leaving the port. Located next to the main street of Pier F. Site and tower closed. USCG 6-3050.
Long Beach Back Channel North Sector Light
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 105 ft (32 m); red, green or white lights, in various combinations. Approx. 112 ft (34 m) triangular skeletal tower. Google has a satellite view and a very distant street view. These lights guide vessels arriving in the port. Located next to the main street of Pier F. Site and tower closed. USCG 6-3055.
Long Beach (2) (Robot Light)
1949. Active; focal plane 50 ft (15 m); white flash every 5 s. 42 ft (13 m) rectangular cylindrical concrete tower mounted on six cylindrical columns. Continuously operating fog horn (blast every 30 s). Genuinely ugly. English has a good photo, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, and Google has a satellite view. This light replaced a square pyramidal skeletal tower of uncertain date. The skeletal tower was moved across the harbor entrance to the west end of the Long Beach Breakwater. (Alex Li Su's photo of the modern post light at that location shows the four footpads of the former skeletal tower.) Located on the east end of the San Pedro Middle Breakwater east of the Los Angeles Harbor Light and at the entrance to Long Beach Harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-447; Admiralty G3797; USCG 6-0125.
Los Angeles Harbor (San Pedro Harbor; Angel's Gate)
1913. Active; focal plane 73 ft (22 m); green flash every 15 s. 69 ft (21 m) cylindrical steel and concrete tower rising from an octagonal concrete base, all on a concrete crib; DCB-24 aerobeacon. Lighthouse painted white with narrow vertical black stripes, lantern and gallery black; concrete base is white. Continuously operating fog horn (2 blasts every 30 s). The original 4th order clamshell Fresnel lens is on display at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro. Greg Bishop's photo is at right, a 2010 photo is available, Shawn Wilson has a 2007 photo, English has a photo, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. This is the only surviving lighthouse of its type. In 2008, members of the Cabrillo Beach Boosters launched an effort to secure grant funds to restore the lighthouse. In May 2010 they hit the jackpot: the Los Angeles Harbor Commission allocated $1.8 million for the restoration. The restoration project began in October 2011 and was completed in May 2012 (Bishop's photo at right shows the results). Located at the end of the San Pedro Harbor breakwater about 1/2 mile (800 m) east of Point Fermin. Accessible only by boat. Ferries to Santa Catalina pass the lighthouse while departing San Pedro. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-014; Admiralty G3799; USCG 6-0135.

Angel's Gate Light, Los Angeles, March 2014
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Jasperdo
**** Point Fermin (1)
1874 (Paul J. Pelz). Inactive since 1942. 30 ft (9 m) square cylindrical wood tower rising from 2-story wood Italianate Victorian keeper's house. The active light (focal plane 120 ft (36.5 m); white flash every 10 s) is mounted on a short pole. This lighthouse is a sibling of the East Brother Island Light (see Northern California) and the Hereford Inlet Light in New Jersey. The original lantern was removed in 1942, but a wood replica lantern was installed in 1974. In December 2006, Malibu realtor Louis T. Busch donated the original 4th order Fresnel lens to the society for display at the lighthouse. Building painted white with gray trim; lantern and gallery black. Tony Hoffarth's photo is at right, Lighthouse Digest has a July 2006 article on the lighthouse, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view and Steve Risenmay's street view. Saved from demolition in 1972 and refurbished in 1972-74 by local preservationists, the lighthouse was then used for many years as the park superintendent's residence. In 2002 a $2.6 million project accomplished a complete restoration of the lighthouse. A new chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, the Point Fermin Lighthouse Society, supports the lighthouse and has opened it to visitors. In 2012 the lighthouse became available for transfer under NHLPA. The City of Los Angeles and three nonprofit organizations applied for ownership, and in January 2015 ownership was awarded to the city. Located on Paseo del Mar at the foot of Gaffey Street in San Pedro. Site open, lighthouse and tower open in the afternoon every day except Mondays, certain major holidays, and when there are special events in the park. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks (Point Fermin Park). ARLHS USA-621; Admiralty G3794; USCG 6-0140.

Point Fermin Light, San Pedro, October 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Tony Hoffarth
** Point Vicente
1926. Active; focal plane 185 ft (56 m); 2 white flashes every 20 s, separated by 5 s. 67 ft (20 m) cylindrical reinforced concrete tower, painted white. The original Barbier, Bernard and Turenne 3rd order Fresnel lens (1886) is still in use. The 2-story concrete Spanish revival keeper's house and additional buildings are used as Coast Guard housing. Fog horn (blast every 30 s when needed). This is a very well preserved light station; members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer to maintain it. Dhrupad Bezboruah's photo is at the top of this page, Steven Truong has a 2009 closeup, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. The site is popular for whale watching. Located on a cliff overlooking the Pacific on Palos Verdes Drive in Rancho Palos Verdes, near the Point Vicente Interpretive Center. Site and tower open on the second Saturday of each month except April, when the opening date is the first Saturday to coincide with the city's Whale of the Day festival. The lighthouse can be viewed any time from nearby. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard (Point Vicente Lighthouse). ARLHS USA-640; Admiralty G3886; USCG 6-0170.

Ventura County Lighthouses
* Anacapa Island (2)
1932 (station established 1912). Active; focal plane 277 ft (84.5 m); 2 white flashes every 60 s, separated by 15 s. 55 ft (17 m) cylindrical reinforced concrete tower. Fog horn (blast every 15 s). The original 3rd order Fresnel lens is on display at the East Anacapa Visitor Center, housed in one of the light station's service buildings. This lighthouse is a shorter sibling of Point Vicente Light (previous entry). 1-story Spanish revival keeper's house (1932), assistant keeper's house, and fog signal building. A closeup photo is available, James Harrell has posted a virtual tour of the island, including the lighthouse, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Lighthouse Digest has an article by former crew member James W. Baker, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located on the eastern tip of the island about 15 miles (25 km) south southwest of Ventura. Anacapa is accessible by passenger ferry from Ventura. Site open, tower closed (visitors are not allowed near the lighthouse because of the continuously sounding fog signal). Owner: U.S. National Park Service. Site manager: Channel Islands National Park. ARLHS USA-012; Admiralty G3940; USCG 6-0185.
** Point Hueneme (Port Hueneme) (2)
1941 (station established 1874). Active; focal plane 52 ft (16 m); white flash every 5 s, except every sixth flash omitted. 48 ft (15 m) square cylindrical art moderne concrete tower mounted on concrete fog signal building. Building is unpainted white concrete; lantern and window woods are painted bright red. The historic 4th order Fresnel lens (1899, transferred from the earlier tower) was removed in late 2013 or early 2014 and is now displayed on the first floor of the building. Fog horn (blast every 30 s) activated on radio request. Rennett Stowe's photo is at right, Anderson has a good page for the lighthouse, English has a photo, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, and Google has a good satellite view. The name Hueneme is pronounced "Why-nee-mee". The earlier lighthouse (1874) was a copy of Point Fermin Light (see above); Huelse has a historic postcard view. The lighthouse was restored by the Coast Guard in 1999. In July 2002, volunteers from the Coast Guard Auxiliary began offering tours. In November 2012, the Coast Guard and the Port Hueneme Cultural Heritage Board reached agreement on a plan to replace the Fresnel lens with a modern LED light; the lens will be restored for display. Located in a city equipment yard on the east side of the harbor entrance at Port Hueneme about 5 miles (8 km) south of Oxnard. The area is accessible by a walking path from the Hueneme fishing pier parking area at Surfside Drive and Ventura Road; the walk to the lighthouse is about 1 mi (1.6 km) round trip. Site open, lighthouse and tower open for tours from 10 am to 3 pm on the third Saturday of every month. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard (Point Hueneme Lighthouse). ARLHS USA-693; Admiralty G3926; USCG 6-0190.

Point Hueneme Light, Oxnard, May 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Rennett Stowe

Santa Barbara County Lighthouses
Santa Barbara (2)
1935 (station established 1856). Active; focal plane 142 ft (43 m); white flash every 10 s. 24 ft (7 m) square pyramidal white concrete tower without lantern. The aerobeacon lens used here from 1925 to 1977 is on display at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center in Rancho Palos Verdes (see above). Matthew Cohen has a closeup photo, another photo is available, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. The Coast Guard has a photo of the original lighthouse, similar in design to the Old Point Loma Light; it was demolished after being heavily damaged in the earthquake of 29 June 1929. The modern light stands on the original site, adjacent to La Mesa Park. Located on Meigs Drive two blocks south of CA 225 in Santa Barbara. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-736; Admiralty G3952; USCG 6-0195.
Point Conception (2)
1882 (station established 1856). Active; focal plane 133 ft (40.5 m); white flash every 30 s. 52 ft (16 m) stucco-clad brick tower attached to a 1-story brick fog signal building. Building painted white; roofs red. Fog horn (blast every 30 s). 1-story Spanish style stucco keeper's house (1911), oil house (1907), and modern buildings. A view from the sea is at right, the Shanklins report on a rare visit to this lighthouse, Lighthouse Digest has Richard Clayton's article with excellent photos, and Google has a good satellite view. One of the earliest California light stations. The original 1st order Fresnel lens (1856, transferred from the earlier tower) was removed in June 2013; after restoration it was placed on display at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Located on the point marking the western entrance to the Santa Barbara Channel about 15 miles (25 km) south of Lompoc; a privately owned ranch surrounds the station. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-620; Admiralty G3964; USCG 6-0200.
[Point Arguello (3)]
1967 (station established 1901). Active; focal plane 100 ft (30.5 m); white flash every 15 s. 20 ft (6 m) post with gallery but no lantern; aerobeacon. Google has a satellite view. The NOAA National Data Buoy Center operates an automated weather station on the site. The original lighthouse had a square cylindrical tower attached to a 1-story keeper's house. It was replaced in 1934 by a square pyramidal skeletal tower, which was in turn replaced by the present post light. Located on the point, a very sharp promontory just off the coast road. Site and tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: U.S. Air Force (Vandenberg Air Force Base). ARLHS USA-612; Admiralty G3968; USCG 6-0210.
Point Conception Light
Point Conception Light, Lompoc, March 2011
Flickr Creative Commons photo by dirtsailor2003

San Luis Obispo County Lighthouses
** San Luis Obispo (Port Harford, Point San Luis)
1890. Inactive since 1975. 40 ft (12 m) square cylindrical wood tower attached to a 2-story Victorian wood keeper's house. The original 4th order Fresnel lens is on display at the San Luis Obispo County Library. Original wood fog signal building, oil house, and other light station buildings. The original keeper's house was replaced with a modern house in 1961. The active light is a pole light (focal plane 116 ft (35 m); white flash every 5 s, day and night). A 2008 photo appears at right, Anderson also has a nice page on the lighthouse, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. Ownership of the station was transferred to the Port San Luis Harbor District in 1992. The Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers was formed to work for restoration of the light station. In 2003 all the structures were painted and parts of the lighthouse were restored and furnished with period antiques. In January 2006 Pacific Gas and Electric, which controls access, signed an agreement to provide $1.5 million to make the light station more accessible, including funds for a shuttle service to the site. The 1960s-era assistant keepers house was renovated as a maritime museum, and a trolley was acquired to serve as the shuttle. In early 2012 the Lighthouse Keepers office moved to the newly-restored duplex assistant keeper's house. In 2015 a new board walk was installed to allow handicapped access to the keeper's house. Located on the western side of Point San Luis about 3 miles (5 km) southwest of Avila Beach, surrounded by Pacific Gas and Electric's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant reservation. Accessible by the Pecho Coast hiking trail, which is open only to group hikes led by PG&E docents. The site is open to guided tours only, tower closed. Tours are available every Wednesday and Saturday, year round; reservations required. Access is by the trolley or by docent-led hikes from Avila Harbor on the Pecho Coast Trail. Owner: Port San Luis Harbor District; Site manager: Port San Luis Lighthouse . ARLHS USA-720; USCG 6-0225.
San Luis Obispo Light
San Luis Obispo Light, March 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by somebodysmom
** Piedras Blancas
1879. Active; focal plane 142 ft (43 m); white flash every 10 s. 74 ft (22.5 m) brick tower (originally 115 ft (35 m)), painted white; rotating VRB-25 lens (2002). The lantern and the top of the tower were removed after being damaged by a storm in 1949; the light is displayed from the top of the capped tower. The original 1st order Fresnel lens was restored by the Lions Club of Cambria; since 1996 it has been displayed on Main Street across from the public library in Cambria by the Friends of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. The historic principal keeper's house (1906) was relocated in 1960 to 270 Chatham Street in Cambria; formerly used as a private residence, it has been renovated and is now available for overnight accommodations. The brick fog signal building (1906), oil house, and several modern light station buildings remain near the lighthouse. A U.S. Geological Survey biological research station and a sanctuary for elephant seals are located adjacent to the lighthouse. Anita Ritenour's photo at right, Anderson has an excellent page for the lighthouse, English has a closeup photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view and Jake Schmit's photo sphere. Lighthouse Digest has an article on the history of the lighthouse, the Coast Guard has a historic photo showing the original tower, and Huelse has a postcard view. Google also has a street view and a satellite view of the keeper's house, plus a street view and a satellite view of the lens building. In 1999 the rotating DCB-224 aerobeacon atop the tower failed. Unable to figure out how to repair it, the Coast Guard replaced it with a dimmer fixed lamp, leading to protests from preservationists. These protests led in 2002 to the installation of the VRB-25 beacon. In October 2001 the lighthouse was transferred from the Coast Guard to the Bureau of Land Management. BLM began planning to reconstruct the upper portion of the tower and the lantern and also began monthly guided tours under a cooperative arrangement with California State Parks. The Piedras Blancas Light Station Association was formed to manage tours and support the restoration effort. A final management plan, necessary before any restoration can be started, was published in late 2007. In 2008, the lighthouse and its surroundings were designated an Outstanding Natural Area. In 2011-12, a $750,000 project restored the lighthouse and oil house. A second phase of the restoration will include replacement of the lantern. In 2013 a replica of the historic water tower was completed; funds came partly from the California Highway Patrol, which installed concealed communications equipment inside the tanks. In 2015, funds were being sought to rebuild the station's historic entrance gate as a memorial to the late park manager Jim Boucher. Located off CA 1 northwest of San Simeon. Site and tower closed except for guided tours leaving from the old Piedras Blancas Motel 1.5 mi (2.5 km) north on highway 1. Tours are available at 9:45 am on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday year round. Reservations are not needed except for large groups. Owner/site manager: U.S. Bureau of Land Management (Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area). ARLHS USA-598; Admiralty G3982; USCG 6-0265.
Piedras Blancas Light
Piedras Blancas Light, San Simeon, April 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Anita Ritenour

Inland Southern California Lighthouses

Canyon Lake (Riverside County) Lighthouse
Canyon Lake
1968. Active; focal plane 20 ft (6 m); flashing white light. 23 ft (7 m) round tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern red. Monica Fairbanks has a 2016 photo, Jim Sneddon has a 2008 photo, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse was built by the Corona Land Company as part of the original development of Canyon Lake, after the company's president, Gordon Heath, was inspired by the Brant Point Light on a visit to Nantucket, Massachusetts. In April 2016 engineers determined that the lighthouse was deteriorating and must be moved onshore for repairs. It may be relocated to the Main Gate of the community rather than being returned to the water. Originally located on a small artificial island at the junction of the northern and eastern branches of the lake, in Riverside County about 8 km (5 mi) west of Lake Elsinore. Site access unknown (gated community). Owner/site manager: City of Canyon Lake.

Lake Havasu (San Bernardino County) Lighthouses (see also Arizona)
Note: Lake Havasu is the reservoir on the Colorado River pooled behind Parker Dam, completed in 1938.The river forms the border between southern California and Arizona. The lake, a major water source for both states, is about 30 miles (50 km) long. Lake Havasu City, founded in 1964, is built on the east (Arizona) side of the lake. Members of the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club have been building a series of lighthouses on the lake. These lights are reduced-size replicas inspired by famous lighthouses of the U.S. and Canada. The lights are legitimate aids to navigation, with designs approved by the Coast Guard and locations approved by the states as part of a master plan for lighting the waterways of the lake. Eventually there will be more than 20 lighthouses, mostly on the Arizona side of the lake.
* Havasu Landing (Table Bluff Replica)
2006. Active; amber flash every 1 s. Approx. 20 ft (6 m) square cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white with gray trim to resemble the Table Bluff Light (see Northern California); lantern roof is red. Kevin Myers has a closeup photo, another photo and a distant view from the lake are available, and Google has a satellite view. This was the first of the Lake Havasu lighthouses to be built on the California side of the lake. Located on the breakwater on the north side of the entrance to the Havasu Landing Marina in Havasu Lake. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: Havasu Landing Resort and Casino.
Copper Canyon (Pigeon Point Replica)
2016. Active; green flash every 1 s. Approx. 20 ft (6 m) round concrete block tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white with black trim to resemble the Pigeon Point Light (see Northern California). The lighthouse is too new to appear in Google's satellite view. Located at the tip of a promontory on the west side of the lake north of the Copper Canyon narrows. Site open, tower closed.
Mount Desert Rock Replica
2007. Active; green flash every 1 s. Approx. 20 ft (6 m) round concrete block tower with lantern and gallery. The tower is unpainted gray concrete; lantern painted black. Lake Havasu City (Arizona) has posted a closeup photo, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. The original Mount Desert Rock Light is on a small island off the coast of Maine. Located on Grass Island, just off the California side of the lake south of Havasu Island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.
Umpqua River Replica
2009. Active; green flash every 1 s. Approx. 26 ft (8 m) round concrete block tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern roof red. Jim Lee has a 2015 photo, and Google has a satellite view. The original lighthouse is on the southern coast of Oregon. This is one of the more ambitious projects of the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club. Located on a steep slope south of Copper Canyon, about 3 miles (5 km) southeast of Havasu Island, marking a significant narrowing of the lake. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.
Grays Harbor Replica
2013. Active; green flash every 1 s. Approx. 23 ft (7 m) octagonal tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white with a black top. Google has a satellite view. The original lighthouse is at Grays Harbor, Washington. Located on a promontory on the east side of the entrance to Whipple Bay, a protected harbor on the lower section of the lake. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

  • Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, Ventura County, has a lighthouse that is not an aid to navigation; a postcard view is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view.
  • Marina del Rey, Los Angeles, has a lighthouse in a waterfront shopping center; it is not a recognized aid to navigation. Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a street view and a satellite view.
  • Oceanside Harbor, Oceanside, San Diego County, has a lighthouse that is lit decoratively at night but is not recognized as a navigational aid. A photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view.
  • Downtown Santa Barbara has a well-known lighthouse that is lit at night but is not an aid to navigation. Built in 1995 as part of the Rusty's Pizza restaurant, this attractive faux lighthouse is sometimes mistaken for the historic Santa Barbara lighthouse. The restaurant was forced to move in 2014 to accommodate reconstruction of the bridge over Mission Creek next door, but the city has promised to preserve and maintain the lighthouse. Google has a satellite view, and its 2016 street view shows the construction in progress.

Adjoining pages: North: Northern California | East: Arizona | South: Northern Baja California

Return to the Lighthouse Directory index | Ratings key

Posted May 2005. Checked and revised September 5, 2016. Lighthouses: 30. Site copyright 2016 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.