Lighthouses of the United States: Northern 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 Point Pinos Light at right and the Battery Point Light shown near the bottom of the page, were built in a 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 in California.

This page includes the lighthouses of the northern California coasts, from Monterey County north to the Oregon border. Lighthouses of Southern California are on a separate page.

Interest in lighthouses is certainly high, and several new lighthouses have been built recently including one in Santa Cruz. Although there is no state lighthouse society, there are local preservation groups for nearly all of the major lights.

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.

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.
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.
National Maritime Inventory - California
National Park Service inventory of California lighthouse data.
Online List of Lights - California
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Lighthouses of California
Photos and accounts posted by Rudy and Alice Rico.
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.
California Lights
From Lighthouse Getaway (Bill Britten, University of Tennessee): excellent photos, but only covers a few of the lighthouses.
Lighthouses of California
A collection of photos by Bryan Penberthy and Michael Jackman.
Lighthouses in California
Photos available from Wikimedia.
Leuchttürme USA auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.

Point Pinos Light
Point Pinos Light, Pacific Grove, October 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Iris Shreve Garrott

Point Montara Light
Point Montara Light, Montara, August 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by C.M. Hanchey

Monterey County Lighthouses
** Point Sur
1889. Active; focal plane 273 ft (83 m); white flash every 15 s. 48 ft (15 m) square cylindrical sandstone tower attached to a 1-story sandstone fog signal building; DCB-224 aerobeacon (1975). Building is unpainted stone; lantern and gallery painted black, lantern roof red. The original Barbier and Fenestre 1st order Fresnel lens is on display at the Museum of Monterey. 2-1/2 story sandstone Romanesque keeper's house and many other light station buildings. Curtis Brown's photo is at right, Anderson has a fine page with good photos, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. Central Coast Lighthouse Keepers manages restoration of the light station and provides guided tours of the site and buildings. International Chimney Corp. restored the lantern room during the winter of 2000-01; Lighthouse Digest has Jeremy D'Entremont's feature article on this project. The barn and workshop buildings have also been restored, and a replica of the 1907 wood water tower conceals a cellphone relay station. In April 2004 the lighthouse was transferred to California State Parks under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. The 125th anniversary of the lighthouse was celebrated in August 2014. One of the most spectacular lighthouse sites in the country, located high atop a giant volcanic rock off CA 1 about 4 miles (6 km) northwest of Big Sur. Accessible by a hike of 1/2 mile (800 m) and 360 vertical feet (110 m) of climbing (several long flights of stairs). Site, light station, and tower generally closed but open to guided tours on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays all year and also on Thursdays in July and August. Owner: California State Parks. Site manager: Point Sur State Historic Park. ARLHS USA-639; Admiralty G3988; USCG 6-0280.
**** Point Pinos
1855 (Francis Kelly and Francis Gibbons). Active; focal plane 89 ft (27 m); white light occulted every 4 s. 43 ft (13 m) round concrete tower rising from the roof of a 1-1/2 story stone Cape Cod keeper's house. Building painted white; lantern and gallery black; roof is red. The original 3rd order Fresnel lens has been in continuous use since 1855; the original eclipsor, a rotating opaque panel, is on display. Iris Shreve Garrott's photo is at the top of this page, Anderson has an excellent page for the lighthouse, Wikipedia's article has a good photo by Hugh Mason, English has a good photo, Trabas has a photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. The original stone light tower was replaced with a concrete tower after being damaged by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. This is the oldest active lighthouse on the U.S. Pacific coast, beautifully restored and maintained by the Pacific Grove Historical Society. The 150th anniversary of the station was celebrated in 2005. In August 2006, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred from the Coast Guard to the City of Pacific Grove. Starting in 2010, there has been a gradual restoration of the building, carried out with mostly volunteer labor and grants from various local sources. These efforts are continuing. Located on Asilomar Avanue in the Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Course, at the entrance to Monterey Bay. Site and tower open Thursday through Monday afternoons (small suggested donation). Owner/site manager: City of Pacific Grove (Point Pinos Lighthouse). ARLHS USA-634; Admiralty G3992; USCG 6-0290.
Point Sur Light
Point Sur Light, Big Sur, November 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Curtis Brown

Santa Cruz County Lighthouses
* Santa Cruz West Breakwater (Walton Lighthouse) (4)
2001 (station established 1964). Active; focal plane 36 ft (11 m); green light occulting every 4 s. 42 ft (13 m) round reinforced concrete tower with a copper-roofed lantern and a small gallery. Tower painted white with a green band. Fog horn (blast every 30 s). Anthony Solis has a photo with the Abbott lighthouse in the background, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Built with private donations and Coast Guard approval, this lighthouse replaced a series of minor aids to navigation. Charles Walton, a local businessman, contributed a significant part of the cost in memory of his late brother Derek Walton, a merchant seaman. The lighthouse originally had a red band, but the daymark was changed in March 2003 after boaters protested that a green beacon should not have a red daymark. Located at the end of a jetty on the west side of the marina entrance. Accessible by walking the breakwater, or there's a good view from Twin Lakes State Beach, 5th Avenue at East Cliff Drive. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-1001; Admiralty G4002; USCG 6-0300.
*** Santa Cruz (3) (Mark Abbott Memorial)
1967 (station established 1869). Active; focal plane 60 ft (18 m); white flash every 5 s. 39 ft (12 m) square brick tower attached to a 1-story brick museum. The building is unpainted red brick; lantern and gallery painted white. The lantern and 5th order Fresnel lens (1890) were transferred from the Oakland Harbor Light (see below), but the badly deteriorated lantern was replaced in 1996. C.M. Hanchey's photo is at right, Anderson has a page with photos and a historical account, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The lighthouse replaces an 1869 lighthouse that was sold and demolished in 1948 (foundation ruins of that building remain). The Coast Guard has a historic photo of the original lighthouse, and Huelse has a postcard view. The present building is a surfing museum built as a memorial to Mark Abbott, a surfer who drowned nearby in 1965. In December 2008, the Santa Cruz City Council voted to close the museum as a cost-saving measure, but it was rescued by contributions from supporters. In 2013, a new lens was installed, restoring the original sweeping beam of the light. The lighthouse may be endangered eventually by erosion of the cliff on which it stands. Located on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, on Lighthouse Point overlooking Steamer Lane, a famous surfing site. Site open, museum open in the afternoons Thursday through Monday, also on Wednesdays between July 4 and Labor Day (early September). Site manager: Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. ARLHS USA-1000; Admiralty G4001; USCG 6-0305.
Santa Cruz Light
Santa Cruz Light, Santa Cruz, August 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by C.M. Hanchey

San Mateo County Lighthouses
[Año Nuevo (2)]
1890 (station established 1872). Inactive since 1948. The light tower, a square skeletal structure with enclosed watch room, was overturned in 1976 and lies across the beach. The keeper's house and other light station buildings are incorporated in a scientific research facility operated by the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The Coast Guard has a historic photo of the 1872 lighthouse and a second historic photo of the light station, and Google has a satellite view. The Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino discovered this cape on New Year's Day 1603 and named it Punta de Año Nuevo, New Year's Point. Año Nuevo is best known today for its large breeding population of elephant seals. Located on an rocky island just offshore about 8 miles (13 km) south of Pigeon Point on CA 1. Visitor center on the mainland open daily; during the winter breeding season there are guided tours of the island, for which reservations are required. Owner: California State Parks. Site manager: Año Nuevo State Park. ARLHS USA-017.
* Pigeon Point
1872. Active; focal plane 148 ft (45 m); white flash every 10 s. 115 ft (35 m) brick tower, painted white; lantern is black. The original 1st order Fresnel lens (1863, transferred from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina) is mounted in the tower but is not in use; the active light, a DCB-24 aerobeacon, is mounted on an extension of the gallery. A photo is at right, Anderson has a good page for the lighthouse, Trabas has a photo, Lighthouse Digest has Gary Martin's January 2001 feature story, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The lighthouse, a shorter sibling of Bodie Island Light, North Carolina, is one of the best known and most photographed California lighthouses. The historic light station is being restored by California State Parks, and the modern Coast Guard buildings are used as a youth hostel operated by Hostelling International - American Youth Hostels. The adjacent property was saved from development by the Peninsula Open Space Trust in 2000; the Trust later bought 3/4 mile (1.2 km) of beachfront to protect the light station. In December 2001, a section of the cornice fell and the light tower was closed until engineers could evaluate its safety. It has remained closed ever since. In October 2002 the station was listed for transfer under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act; the trust and state parks developed a joint application for ownership. In March 2004 the National Park Service recommended approval of this application. Two nonprofit groups appealed the decision, but the light station was transferred to the state in May 2005. The California State Parks Foundation and the Coastside State Parks Association launched a campaign for $5 million to fund a complete restoration of the lighthouse. The Foundation has a web page for this effort. The aerobeacon failed in October 2008 and the backup light also failed in April 2009, but a new aerobeacon was installed later in 2009. Restoration work began in the fall of 2011; in a $310,000 project the Fresnel lens was removed and is now on display in the fog signal building. The project will also stabilize the upper portion of the tower. In May 2012 the California Coastal Conservancy granted $200,000 to prepare architectural plans for a general restoration, now estimated to cost $7 million. Located on Pigeon Point Road just off CA 1 about 5 miles (8 km) south of Pescadero. Site open; fog signal building open Friday through Monday; tower closed. Owner: California State Parks. Site manager: Pigeon Point Lighthouse State Historic Park. ARLHS USA-599; Admiralty G4006; USCG 6-0320.
Pigeon Point Light
Pigeon Point Light, Pescadero, October 2011
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by sanfranman59
* Point Montara (3)
1881 (lighthouse relocated here in 1928; this station established in 1875). Active; focal plane 70 ft (21 m); white flash every 5 s. 30 ft (9 m) steel tower; FA 251 lens (1970). Lighthouse painted white, lantern and gallery black. The original 4th order Fresnel lens (1912, transferred from earlier tower) is on display at the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City. 2-story wood duplex keeper's house (1875) and wood fog signal building (1902). C.M. Hanchey's photo is at the top of this page, English has a closeup, Trabas has a photo by Klaus Potschien, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Point Montara was established as a fog signal station in 1875; a post light was added in 1900 and replaced by a wooden skeletal tower in 1912. The present lighthouse was built in 1881 at Mayo's Beach on the bay side of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Shipped to California as surplus after being deactivated in 1922, it was installed at Point Montara in 1928. (This long-forgotten history was rediscovered by lighthouse researchers in 2007 and reported by Colleen MacNaney in the June 2008 issue of Lighthouse Digest.) The light station has been restored by California State Parks and is used as a youth hostel operated by Hostelling International - American Youth Hostels. In 2007 the Coast Guard was seeking to transfer ownership of the lighthouse to the National Park Service. Located at the end of 16th Street just off CA 1 at the southern edge of Montara. Site open, tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: California State Parks (Point Montara Light Station). ARLHS USA-629; Admiralty G4010; USCG 6-0335.

San Francisco County Lighthouses
Note: The city of San Francisco occupies a peninsula that encloses the west side of San Francisco Bay, a magnificent natural harbor. The bay is connected to the Pacific through a strait, the famous Golden Gate.
Farallon Island
1855. Active; focal plane 358 ft (109 m); white flash every 15 s. 41 ft (12.5 m) brick tower, lantern removed; Vega VRB aerobeacon. Tower painted white. The original 1st order Fresnel lens is on display at the visitor center of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park on Fisherman's Wharf. The original keeper's house was demolished in 1969; two 1876 assistant keeper's houses survive. Lighthouse Explorer has a photo, Wikipedia has an article with several photos, the Coast Guard has a historic photo showing the former lantern, and Google has a fuzzy satellite view. The California Academy of Sciences maintains a webcam atop the tower. The tower has deteriorated noticeably in recent years, so in 2012 it was added to the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List. The Farallon Islands are a group of small islands and rocks 27 mi (43 km) west of the Golden Gate. Located on the highest point of Southeast Farallon Island. The island is closed to the public as a bird sanctuary, but the lighthouse can be seen from Oceanic Society half-day cruises to observe wildlife in the area. Site and tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Farallon National Wildlife Refuge). ARLHS USA-281; Admiralty G4014; USCG 6-0355.
Mile Rocks
1906 (James A. McMahon). Active; focal plane 49 ft (15 m); white flash every 5 s. Circular 1-story steel building mounted on a massive stone caisson, painted with red and white horizontal bands; rotating aerobeacon. The original 3rd order Fresnel lens was moved to the Old Point Loma Light in San Diego (see the Southern California page). Continuously operating fog horn (blast every 30 s). Trabas has a photo by Michael Boucher, another photo is available, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. The original light tower had four stories crowned by a lantern; the Coast Guard has a historic photo, and Huelse has a postcard view. All of the tower except the first story was demolished in 1966, and a landing pad for helicopters was built on top of the surviving story. Located on a rock off Land's End at the south entrance to the Golden Gate, about 2 miles (3 km) southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge (US 101). There's a good view from the Land's End Trail in Lincoln Park, San Francisco. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-496; Admiralty G4054; USCG 6-0365.
* Fort Point (3)
1864 (station established 1855). Inactive since 1934. 27 ft (8 m), 9-sided pyramidal cast iron skeletal tower, partially enclosed under the lantern, mounted on top of Fort Winfield Scott. Tower painted white, lantern black. Keeper's house demolished. A closeup photo is available, and the Coast Guard has a historic photo. Located directly beneath the south anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge; Scott Fisher has a good photo of the lighthouse under the bridge, and Google has a satellite view. Site open (free) Friday through Sunday, lighthouse closed. Owner: U.S. National Park Service. Site manager: Fort Point National Historic Site. ARLHS USA-295.
* Alcatraz Island (2)
1909 (station established 1854). Active; focal plane 214 ft (65 m); white flash every 5 s. 84 ft (25.5 m) octagonal pyramidal reinforced concrete tower, unpainted; DCB-24 aerobeacon (1977). The original 4th order Fresnel lens (1902, transferred from the earlier lighthouse) is in storage for future display. Fog horn (blast every 30 s when needed) in a white square building 175 yards (160 m) southeast of the lighthouse. A photo is at right, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. This light station is the oldest on the U.S. West Coast; the Coast Guard has a drawing of the original lighthouse. The island is famous as the former site of a high-security federal prison (1933-1963). The keeper's house, formerly attached to the tower, was destroyed by fire in June 1970 while Indian protesters occupied the island. In 2007 the Coast Guard was seeking to transfer this and four other area light stations to the National Park Service. Located on an island about 3 miles (5 km) east of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay. Accessible by passenger ferry (toll) from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Site open, tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: U.S. National Park Service (Golden Gate National Recreation Area). ARLHS USA-003; Admiralty G4082; USCG 6-4315.
Yerba Buena Island (Goat Island)
1875. Active; focal plane 95 ft (29 m); white light occulted every 4 s. 25 ft (7.5 m) octagonal cylindrical wood tower; 5the order Fresnel lens (1886). Tower painted white with black trim; lantern roof is red. The 2-story Victorian wood keeper's house is the residence of the Coast Guard district commandant. Original brick fog signal building and oil house. Active fog horn (blast every 30 s) when needed. English has a nice photo, Trabas has a view from the bay by Michael Boucher, the Coast Guard has a historic photo showing the entire light station, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the southern tip of Yerba Buena Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The island is crossed by the I-80 expressway between the two spans of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but access is restricted. There are good views from the ferries between Oakland and San Francisco. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-908; Admiralty G4140; USCG 6-4595.
Alcatraz Light
Alcatraz Light, San Francisco Bay, July 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Johnny Grim

Alameda County (Oakland Area) Lighthouses
Note: Oakland is a port city on the east side of San Francisco Bay.
* Oakland Harbor (2)
1903 (station established 1890). Inactive since 1966. Short square cylindrical wood tower on the roof of a 2-story wood keeper's house. The lantern was transferred in 1966 to Santa Cruz Light (see above). A 2007 photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse was originally located at the Oakland Harbor entrance; the Coast Guard has a historic photo of the lighthouse on station. In 1966 the lighthouse was sold for $1 and relocated six miles (10 km) south to 1951 Embarcadero Cove in Oakland, where it has served ever since as a restaurant. It was thoroughly renovated by its present owners in 1984. Owner/site manager: Quinns Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub. ARLHS USA-560.
** Lightship WLV-605 Relief
1951. Decommissioned 1975. 158 ft (48 m) 2-masted steel lightship. Hull painted red, superstructure white with gold trim, masts gold. C.W. Bash's photo is at right, English also has a good photo, Anderson has a fine page for the ship, and Google has a satellite view. Built by Rice Brothers Shipyard in Boothbay, Maine, the ship served as the Overfalls off Cape Henlopen, Delaware, until 1960, then as Blunts off Cape Mendocino until 1969, when it became the relief lightship for the Pacific coast. After decommissioning the ship was donated to Olympia, Washington, but efforts to operate it as a museum there failed. The vessel was sold into private ownership in 1979. After sailing it to California and maintaining it for seven years, the owner, Alan Hosking, donated the ship to the U.S. Lighthouse Society in late 1986. Docked in Oakland, it was carefully restored by USLHS volunteers. In 2002 the ship sailed under its own power to a new berth at Jack London Square in Oakland. Site open, ship open for tours Saturday and Sunday. Owner/site manager: U.S. Lighthouse Society. ARLHS USA-693.

Lightship Relief, Oakland Harbor, July 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by C.W. Bash

Contra Costa County (Richmond Area) Lighthouse
** East Brother Island
1873 (Paul J. Pelz). Active; focal plane 61 ft (18.5 m); white flash every 5 s. 48 ft (14.5 m) square pyramidal wood tower attached to a 2-story Victorian wood keeper's house; FA 251 lens. The house is gray-shingled with white trim; lantern and roofs are red. Fog signal (blast every 30 s) operates only October through March. Original wood fog signal building, assistant keeper's house, and other light station buildings. The light station was privately restored in 1979-80 and is now a bed and breakfast inn. A 4th order Fresnel lens of unknown origin is displayed in the fog signal building. Frank Schulenburg's photo is at right, Anderson has photos and a good historical account, Trabas has a photo by Michael Boucher, Larry Myhre has a 1999 photo, Todd Lappin has a good view of the light, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a small island just off Point San Pablo in the strait connecting San Pablo Bay to San Francisco Bay. Accessible by a short boat ride from Point San Pablo Yacht Basin, at the end of Richmond Lane in Richmond. Site and tower open. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: East Brother Light Station. ARLHS USA-258; Admiralty G4215; USCG 6-5865.

San Joaquin County (Stockton Area) Lighthouse
Southampton Shoals
1905. Inactive since 1960. Square wood tower with lantern on a 2-story Victorian keeper's house. The original 5th order Fresnel lens is on display at the Angel Island Interpretive Center. The lighthouse originally had 3 stories and was located on Southampton Shoals, northeast of Angel Island and southwest of Point Richmond in San Francisco Bay. The upper two stories were relocated to Tinsley Island in the San Joaquin River delta about 15 miles (25 km) northwest of Stockton, where the building is used as a yacht club. The Coast Guard has a historic photo of the light on station, Marinas.com has aerial photos of the present location, and Google has a satellite view. Accessible only by boat, and permission to land should be obtained in advance. Site and tower open by appointment. Owner/site manager: St. Francis Yacht Club. ARLHS USA-777.

Solano County (Vallejo Area) Lighthouse
* [Carquinez Strait]
1910. Inactive since 1951. 2-1/2 story wood keeper's house; the light tower, formerly attached, has been removed. English has a good photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Originally located at the end of a pier in Carquinez Strait, which connects San Pablo Bay with Suisun Bay. The lighthouse has been restored and relocated about 1 mile (1.5 km) east to the Glen Cove Marina, off Glen Cove Parkway in Vallejo. Modern additions have altered the appearance of the building; the Coast Guard has a historic photo showing its original appearance. Site open. Owner: Western Water Ways, Inc. Site manager: Glen Cove Marina. ARLHS USA-142.
East Brother Island Light
East Brother Island Light, Richmond, March 2013
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Frank Schulenburg

Marin County Lighthouses
Note: Marin County occupies the peninsula on the north side of the Golden Gate.
* Point Blunt (2)
1956 (station established 1915). Active; focal plane 60 ft (18 m); green flash every 5 s. Navigation light displayed from the roof of a square fog signal building. Fog horn (blast every 15 s when needed). The Coast Guard has a photo of an earlier light, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the southeastern point of Angel Island, off Tiburon in San Francisco Bay about 4 miles (6.5 km) northeast of the Golden Gate Bridge. Island accessible by ferries from Tiburon, San Francisco, Oakland, or Vallejo. Site open, tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: Angel Island State Park. ARLHS USA-617; Admiralty G4119; USCG 6-4335.
[Point Knox]
1900 (fog bell station established 1887). Inactive since the 1960s. A post light was added to the station in 1900. The buildings have been demolished, but remarkably the original fog bell remains, mounted in a sawhorse-style wood frame in the center of the foundation pad of the keeper's house. Located at the southwestern corner of Angel Island, below a sheer bluff; Google has a satellite view. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Owner: California State Parks. Site manager: Angel Island State Park. ARLHS USA-1288.
Point Stuart
1915. Inactive. Light centered on the roof of a 1-story fog signal building. Anderson has a recent photo, and Google has a satellite view. This lightbeacon was maintained by keepers from Point Knox. The light, which marked the entrance to Raccoon Strait between Angel Island and the mainland, has been replaced by an offshore buoy. Located on the west side of Angel Island about 1/2 mi (800 m) north of Point Knox. Practically inaccessible (the light is on a platform halfway up a steep bluff) but it should be possible to view the light from above. Site and tower closed. Owner: California State Parks. Site manager: Angel Island State Park. ARLHS USA-1204.
* Lime Point (1)
1900 (fog signal station established 1883). Inactive. The 1-story brick fog signal building was converted to a lighthouse in 1900 by mounting a navigation beacon on the wall of the station. The keeper's house was demolished in the 1960s. Fog horn (2 blasts every 30 s) when needed. A photo is at right, Coast Guard has a historic photo, and Google has a satellite view. The active light (focal plane 15 ft (4.5 m); white flash every 5 s) is mounted on a post in front of the building; it is seen in Michele Aiello's aerial photo. In 2007 the Coast Guard was seeking to transfer this and four other area light stations to the National Park Service. Located adjacent to the north anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge. Accessible by a short hike from the Fort Baker parking lot of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Site and tower closed, but the buidling can be viewed from nearby. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-434; Admiralty G4072; USCG 6-4270.
Point Diablo
1923. Active; focal plane 85 ft (26 m); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. Navigation light mounted atop a square 1-story wood fog signal building. Building painted white. Continuously operating fog signal (blast every 15 s). Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. Keepers from Lime Point originally maintained this beacon. In 2007 the Coast Guard was seeking to transfer this and four other area light stations to the National Park Service. Located on a very steep headland halfway between Point Bonita and Lime Point, about 1.2 miles (2 km) west of the Golden Gate Bridge. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: U.S. National Park Service (Golden Gate National Recreation Area). ARLHS USA-974; Admiralty G4064; USCG 6-4250.
Lime Point Light
Lime Point Light, Sausalito, December 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by mel1st
** Point Bonita (2)
1877 (station established 1855). Active; focal plane 140 ft (43 m); white light occulted every 4 s. 33 ft (10 m), hexagonal lantern mounted atop a 1-story brick fog signal building. The original 2nd order Fresnel lens is still in use. Building painted white, lantern black. Fog horn sounds two blasts every 30 s when needed. The keeper's house has been demolished, but the original oil house (1877) and a second brick fog signal building (1903) survive. In 1856 this was the site of the first fog signal on the U.S. West Coast, a cannon. The lantern and watch room were relocated from the 1855 lighthouse, making them among the oldest on the Pacific coast. Don DeBold's photo is at right, Dana Smith has a closeup photo, Britten has some fine photos of this spectacular light station, the park service has a page for the lighthouse, Lighthouse Digest has Mary Hanley's article on its history, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. In 2007 the Coast Guard was seeking to transfer ownership of this and four other area light stations to the National Park Service. In early 2011, the suspension bridge leading to the lighthouse was closed due to safety concerns. It was replaced in a $1 million project beginning in fall 2011, and access was restored in April 2012. Located on a spectacular rocky point at the north entrance to the Golden Gate, about 2 miles (3 km) west of the Golden Gate Bridge. Accessible by a hike of about 1 mile (1.5 km) from the parking area; the hike includes a tunnel as well as the suspension bridge. Site open, tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: U.S. National Park Service (Golden Gate National Recreation Area). ARLHS USA-618; Admiralty G4052; USCG 6-0370.
Point Bonita Light
Point Bonita Light, Golden Gate, May 2012
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Don DeBold
**** Point Reyes
1870. Inactive since 1975 (the light is lit briefly twice a month). 35 ft (10.5 m) 16-sided pyramidal cast iron tower (sibling of Cape Mendocino Light). Buildings painted white; roofs including the lantern roof are red. The original 1st order Fresnel lens is still mounted in the tower. The original keeper's house was demolished and replaced by modern dwellings in 1960. Wood fog signal building (1928). The active light (focal plane 265 ft (81 m); white flash every 5 s) is mounted on the roof of the garage adjoining the lighthouse. Frank Schulenburg's photo is at right, Vicki and Chuck Rogers have a good photo, the park service has a web site on the light station's history, Trabas has a photo by Klaus Potschien, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. In 2003 the park service completed a major restoration including replacement of the walkway and stairs. In December 2004 the lens received much-needed repairs; a more complete restoration is planned. The Lighthouse Visitor Center offers exhibits and tours. Located on the westernmost point of the Point Reyes peninsula high above the Pacific (the original focal plane was 294 ft (90 m)). Accessible by a short but strenuous walk (with 308 stone stairs) from the parking area. However, the walkway is closed in high winds, which occur frequently. Site open, visitor center and tower open daily Thursday through Monday, guided tours mostly on weekends. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: U.S. National Park Service (Point Reyes National Seashore). ARLHS USA-636; Admiralty G4356; USCG 6-0385.

Mendocino County Lighthouses
**** Point Arena
1908. Active; focal plane 155 ft (47 m); white flash every 15 s. 115 ft (35 m) cylindrical reinforced white concrete tower rising from a 1-story round workroom. Lantern painted black. The original 1st order Fresnel lens (transferred from the 1870 tower) is on display in the wood fog signal building (1896), which houses a museum. The active light is mounted on the gallery outside the lantern. Four modern keeper's dwellings (1960) are available as vacation lodging. David Dasinger has a good photo, Anderson has great photos and the history of the station, Trabas has a photo by Klaus Potschien, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a good satellite view. This lighthouse was the first reinforced concrete lighthouse built in the U.S. The Coast Guard has a historic photo of the original lighthouse, which was a copy of the Pigeon Point Light (see above). It was demolished after being heavily damaged by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. In September 2004, mercury was removed from the lantern room, clearing the way for restoration of the lens and tower. The California Cultural and Historical Endowment granted $1.2 million to restore the station, and the preservation group raised another $300 thousand. In 2008-10 these funds supported a complete restoration of all the buildings, including disassembly, restoration, and reinstallation of the Fresnel lens. Located on a sharp, spectacular promontory at the end of Lighthouse Road, off CA 1 about 2 miles (3 km) north of the town of Point Arena. Site open, museum open daily, tower open to guided tours. Owner/site manager: Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc. ARLHS USA-611; Admiralty G4358; USCG 6-0420.
Point Reyes Light
Point Reyes Light, Point Reyes, April 2012
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Frank Schulenburg
**** Point Cabrillo
1909. Active; focal plane 84 ft (25.5 m); white flash every 10 s. 47 ft (14.5 m) octagonal cylindrical wood tower on a 1-story wood fog signal building. The original 3rd order Fresnel lens was restored to use in 1999. Original 1-1/2 story wood keeper's house. This is a complete light station, including two assistant keeper's houses (1908), oil house (1912), and other buildings. Matthew High's photo is at right, Anderson has an excellent page for the lighthouse, Trabas has a photo by Klaus Potschien, Dave Dunne has another fine photo, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Bing has a satellite view. The North Coast Interpretive Association began an extensive restoration of the light station in 1996. Restoration was completed by the end of 2001. In May 2001, the California Coastal Conservancy sold the lighthouse and 300 surrounding acres to California State Parks for $4 million. These funds were transferred to the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association (PCLA) to support continued restoration and operation of the light station. In 2004-05 an assistant keeper's house was restored and became a museum. The lighthouse was also painted in 2005. The principal keeper's house was opened for overnight stays in 2006. A second assistant keeper's house was restored in 2009. There was great alarm in May 2011, when California State Parks announced that the light station would be closed in 2012 as a cost-cutting measure. The Lightkeeper's Association negotiated an agreement with the state that keeps the station open under the association's management. In 2014 the Coast Guard announced it would deactivate the light and remove the lens, but PCLA is negotiating to keep it active as a private aid to navigation. Located on a spectacular headland nearly surrounded by the ocean, at the end of Lighthouse Road, off CA 1 about 1 mile (0.6 km) south of Caspar and 4 mi (6.5 km) north of Mendocino. For most visitors there is a 1/2 mile (800 m) walk from the parking area, but handicapped visitors can drive to the lighthouse. Site open, lighthouse open daily in the summer and on weekends March through October. Owner: California State Parks (Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park). Site manager: Point Cabrillo Light Station. ARLHS USA-619; Admiralty G4362; USCG 6-0450.

Sunset at Point Cabrillo Light, Mendocino, November 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Matthew High

Humboldt County Lighthouses
* Cape Mendocino (1) (relocated to Shelter Cove)
1868. Inactive since 1951. 43 ft (13 m) 16-sided pyramidal cast iron tower. The original 1st order Fresnel lens has been displayed in the replica of the lighthouse at the entrance to the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Ferndale. A photo is at right, Robert English has a good photo, another closeup photo is available, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse is very similar to the better-known Point Reyes Light (see above). The Coast Guard has a historic photo of the lighthouse on station at Cape Mendocino, where it stood in deteriorating condition for almost half a century after being deactivated. In 1998 a helicopter lifted the tower and carried it about 35 mi (55 km) south to Shelter Cove, where the lighthouse was restored and rebuilt during 1999-2000. The original 1st order Fresnel lens was mounted for many years in a replica of the lighthouse at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Ferndale. In 2008 the Coast Guard, noting that the lens was not properly protected, announced it was considering whether to require a more secure display or a transfer of the lens to another location. Negotations continued for several years, as the city worked on a plan to display it at the Ferndale Museum. In December 2011, however, the Coast Guard terminated the lease agreement and announced that it would soon remove the lens. After further negotiations, an agreement was reached in September 2012. The lens was removed and stored pending restoration for display at the museum. Meanwhile, the lighthouse is located at Mel Coombs Park in Shelter Cove, near Point Delgado on the coast about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Redway. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Cape Mendocino Lighthouse Preservation Society. ARLHS USA-129.
* Punta Gorda
1912. Inactive since 1951. 27 ft (8 m) square cylindrical concrete tower on the roof of rectangular concrete oil house. Building painted white, lantern black. The keeper's house and all other station buildings except the lighthouse and oil house were demolished in the 1960s. William Peters has a 2009 closeup photo, a 2007 photo is available, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. Members of a local volunteer fire department have helped maintain the lighthouse, and the state provided some assistance for restoration in 1989. Located in a wild area on Punta Gorda, about 12 miles (19 km) south of Cape Mendocino and 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Petrolia. Accessible by a 3-mile (5 km) hike or a guided mule ride along the coast from the end of Lighthouse Road. Site open, tower closed. Owner: U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Site manager: King Range National Conservation Area. ARLHS USA-679.

Cape Mendocino Light, Shelter Cove, April 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Dave R.
[Cape Mendocino (3) (original site)]
1951 (station established 1868). Active; focal plane 515 ft (157 m); white flash every 15 s. Light mounted on a steel pole. A photo is available showing the dual aerobeacon installed in 1951, but Anderson's 2005 photo shows a simpler light. Google has a satellite view. The historic 1868 lighthouse was relocated in 1998 to Shelter Cove (see above). The keeper's house has been demolished, but the oil house remains at the original site. The present light is on a level site about 350 yards (300 m) northwest and 93 ft (28 m) higher than the original location on a ledge of the cliff face. Located on a towering cliff at the cape. Mattole Road (quite rugged and difficult) leads to the cape from Ferndale; 4-wheel drive is strongly recommended. The site is signed as closed, but it is not fenced. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-129H; Admiralty G4374; USCG 6-0480.
[Table Bluff (original site)]
1892. Inactive since 1961. The lighthouse has been relocated (next entry), but its foundation remains on the original site. A 1-story wood fog signal and radio building survived for many years. Google has a satellite view. The Wildlife Conservation Board and Coastal Conservancy purchased the land from private owners and conveyed it to the Bureau of Land Management. In 2012, the Bureau demolished the fog signal building and all the remaining structures of the station. Located at the end of Table Bluff Road, five miles west of US 101 north of Loleta. Site open.
* Table Bluff (relocated to Woodley Island)
1892. Inactive since 1961. 35 ft (10.5 m) square cylindrical wood tower, painted white with black trim; lantern and gallery painted black. The original 4th order Fresnel lens (1856; transferred from Humboldt Harbor Light) was sent to the Old Point Loma Light in San Diego in 1953, but it has been retrieved for display at the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum. The keeper's house, formerly attached, was demolished in 1953. (The original lighthouse was a sibling of the Ballast Point Light in San Diego, which is also demolished.) Keith Whitfield has a 2008 photo, English also has a photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Originally located on the South Spit near the entrance to Humboldt Bay, the tower was relocated in 1987 to the end of Startare Drive on Woodley Island in Arcata Bay, just off the Samoa Bridge on CA 255 in Eureka. Site open, tower closed. Owner: Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. Site manager: Woodley Island Marina. ARLHS USA-832.
[Humboldt Harbor]
1856. Inactive since 1892. The lighthouse collapsed in 1933, but foundation ruins remain. The cupola from the top of the lantern was discovered on the beach in 1987 and is on display at the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum, along with the original 4th order Fresnel lens. Formerly located on the North Spit of Humboldt Bay. ARLHS USA-1108.
* Trinidad Memorial
1949. Inactive. 20 ft (6 m) square masonry tower with lantern, painted white; lantern roof is red. This replica of Trinidad Head Light includes the original 4th order Fresnel lens of the Trinidad Head Light. The fog bell from the same lighthouse is hung beside the tower and rung daily at noon. Teri Vogel's photo is at right, another excellent photo is available, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The lighthouse was built as a memorial to sailors lost at sea. It was refurbished in 1998 with a new dome and new lantern windows. In 2003, members of the Yurok Indian nation sued the city for removal or relocation of the lighthouse, on the grounds that the tribe owns the land on which it stands. Apparently nothing has come of this suit. Located in a park at the foot of Trinity Street, just off US 101 in Trinidad. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: City of Trinidad.
* Trinidad Head
1871. Active; focal plane 196 ft (60 m); white light occulted every 4 s. 25 ft (7.5 m) square brick tower with lantern and gallery; 375 mm lens (1947). Lighthouse painted white; lantern and gallery painted black. Keeper's house replaced by modern Coast Guard housing in 1969. Original 4th order Fresnel lens transferred to Trinidad Memorial Light. Wood fog signal building (1900); active fog horn mounted on the outside of the building. This is the only historic fog signal building in California still active. The Coast Guard has a historic photo of the station, Huelse has a postcard view, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. A giant wave, one of the highest ever recorded, struck the tower on New Year's Eve 1914. Ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the Bureau of Land Management in May 2014; the Bureau plans to offer docent-led tours starting later in the summer. Located high on a majestic bluff over the Pacific, beyond the end of Lighthouse Road on the southwest side of Trinidad. A short but challenging hiking trail leads to the top of the headland, from which the lighthouse can be seen. Site open, tower has been closed but it may open for tours on selected dates later in summer 2014. Owner/site manager: U.S. Bureau of Land Management. ARLHS USA-855; Admiralty G4408; USCG 6-0525.
Trinidad Memorial Light
Trinidad Memorial Light, Trinidad, November 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Teri Vogel
Reading (Redding) Rock
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 98 ft (30 m); white flash every 4 s. Approx. 17 ft (5 m) post mounted on a square equipment shelter. Steve and Kay Van Slyke have a distant view, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located atop Reading (pronounced "Redding") Rock, an isolated pillar about 9 mi (15 km) northwest of Orick. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: U.S. Bureau of Land Management (California Coastal National Monument). Admiralty G4410; USCG 6-0540.

Del Norte County Lighthouses
**** Battery Point (Crescent City)
1856. Reactivated (inactive 1965-1982, now privately maintained); focal plane 77 ft (23.5 m); white flash every 30 s. 45 ft (14 m) cylindrical brick tower on the roof of a 1-1/2 story granite keeper's house; 5th order Fresnel lens (installed 1953). The original 4th order Fresnel lens is on display at the lighthouse. Lighthouse painted white; roof and lantern are red. The oil house (1880) is also preserved. Marcel Marchon's photo appears at right, the historical society has a page for the lighthouse, Trabas has a photo by Klaus Potschien, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. The lighthouse, one of only three surviving from the original series of California lighthouses, houses a museum. In February 2010, county officials learned that $180,000 is needed to correct leaks in the light tower. Located on a small island just off the foot of A Street in downtown Crescent City. Accessible from shore on foot at low tide. Site open, museum and tower open in season. Owner: Del Norte County. Site manager: Del Norte County Historical Society. ARLHS USA-043; Admiralty G4417.5; USCG 6-0555.
St. George Reef
1892 (George Ballantyne). Reactivated (inactive 1975-2012, now privately maintained and unofficial). 90 ft (27.5 m) square granite tower, incorporating keeper's house, mounted on a massive concrete and granite base; the total height is about 140 ft (43 m). Solar-powered lens; the original 1st order Fresnel lens is on display at the Del Norte County Museum. Anderson has a fine page for the lighthouse, and Marinas.com has aerial photos, but Bing has only a fuzzy satellite view of the reef. The tower took 10 years to build and is considered the nation's most expensive lighthouse. Preservation efforts have been underway for more than a decade. In spring 2000, the lantern room was accidently destroyed when a helicopter carrying it ashore for restoration came in too low. A replica lantern built by Fashion Blacksmith of Crescent City was installed in April 2002. Lighthouse Digest has a February 2006 feature on the ongoing restoration. Plans have been completed for an onshore visitor center. In March 2012, a decorative light was lit in the lantern. Located on a very exposed rock 3 miles (5 km) off Point St. George northwest of Crescent City. Accessible only by helicopter or by boat through very dangerous seas. Helicopter tours to the lighthouse, formerly available, have been suspended due to objections from state aviation safety officials. Visible very distantly from Point St. George; Pamela Elbert Poland has a photo of this view. Site and tower closed. Site manager: St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society. ARLHS USA-793; ex-Admiralty G4418.
Battery Point Light
Battery Point Light, Crescent City, June 2005
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Marcel Marchon

Lake Tahoe Lightbeacons
Note: Lake Tahoe is a large and very scenic lake located in the Sierra Nevada range on the border of California and Nevada. The lake is about 22 mi (35 km) long and 12 mi (19 km) wide and has a surface elevation of 6225 ft (1897 m). For reasons unknown, navigational aids on the lake are maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard (this is not true of any other landlocked lake in the U.S.). It is doubtful whether any of these aids can be called lighthouses, but the following two sites are of some interest to lighthouse enthusiasts.
[Rubicon Point]
1916. Only active for a few years (accounts of its history vary). 12 ft (3.5 m) square wood tower; no lantern. Looks like an outhouse. Jitendra Agrawal has a closeup photo, and a 2009 photo is available, but the tiny building has not been located in Google's satellite view of the point. Located on the southwest shore of the lake at an elevation of about 6300 ft (1920 m). Believe it or not, this structure is said to have been built by the Coast Guard. The Tahoe Heritage Foundation is interested in restoring the structure. Site and tower open. Owner: California State Parks. Site manager: D.L. Bliss State Park. ARLHS USA-917.
* [Sugar Pine Point (2)]
Date uncertain (station established 1921). Active; focal plane 4.5 m (15 ft); white flash every 4 s. 4 m (13 ft) post with red and white diamond-shaped daybeacon. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. The original lighthouse was a wood pyramidal tower. This has been described as "the world's highest working lighthouse," but there are much higher lights on Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. Lake Tahoe is the only landlocked lake in the country with aids to navigation maintained by the Coast Guard. Located on a point on the west side of the lake, north of Rubicon Point. Owner: uncertain. Site manager: Ed Z'berg - Sugar Pine Point State Park. ARLHS USA-916; USCG 6-8405.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

  • Mare Island, (1873-1930s), San Pablo Bay near Vallejo. This was another Paul J. Pelz design, similar to the East Brother Island lighthouse (see above). Located at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, the light was of limited use after the establishment of the Carquinez Strait lighthouse in 1910. It was abandoned and demolished sometime in the 1930s. ARLHS USA-475.
  • Roe Island (1891-1944), Suisun Bay. This lighthouse was demolished after it was heavily damaged by a disastrous explosion of ammunition at the nearby Port Chicago munitions terminal on 17 July 1944. ARLHS USA-700.

Notable faux lighthouses:

  • Cape Mendocino (1) (replica) (1950), at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Ferndale. The original 1st order Fresnel lens of the Cape Mendocino lighthouse was mounted in the lantern of this tower for many years. The lens was removed in the fall of 2012 for restoration and display at the Ferndale Museum. Anderson has a photo showing the lens, and Google has a satellite view.
  • Discovery Bay (2013), in the Delta west of Stockton, has a 36 ft (11 m) octagonal lighthouse contributed to the town by longtime resident Ed Stewart. This is a working lighthouse but not a recognized aid to navigation.
  • Forbes Island (1992), afloat in San Francisco Bay at Pier 39, is not an aid to navigation, but visitors can climb to the gallery. Google has a satellite view.
  • Suisun City (2006), a 52 ft (16 m) tower with lantern and gallery, is active but is purely decorative with no navigational function. A good photo is available, and Google has an aerial view and a distant street view.

Adjoining pages: North: Oregon | South: Southern California

Return to the Lighthouse Directory index

Checked and revised January 24, 2014. Lighthouses: 31. Lightships: 1. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.