Point Pinos Lighthouse A Historic Legacy

September 12, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, Calif. photographed by Glenn Franco Simmons.Point Pinos LighthousePoint Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, Calif. The Point Pinos Lighthouse is a legendary fixture on California’s Central Coast.

“It holds a significant place in maritime history and remains an iconic landmark even today,” according to AI Pro. “It is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the United States’ West Coast. 

“The story of Point Pinos Lighthouse began in 1852 when Congress allocated funds for the construction of a lighthouse on the rocky shores of the Monterey Peninsula. The site was chosen due to its strategic location, providing a guiding light for ships navigating the treacherous waters along the Central California coast. The lighthouse takes its name from the prominent rocky outcrop on which it stands, Point Pinos.”

For anyone who thinks California has sandy beaches and sunshine, think again. Much of the California coastline is rugged, remote and can be dangerous.

A bench at Point Pinos Lighthouse photographed by Glenn Franco Simmons.Point Pinos BenchA bench at Point Pinos Lighthouse. “The construction of the lighthouse proved to be a formidable challenge due to the rugged terrain and harsh weather conditions,” AI Pro noted. “It took three years of hard work to complete the structure, and on Feb. 1, 1855, the Point Pinos Lighthouse was first illuminated. The lighthouse stood tall at 50 feet, with its light visible from a distance of 17 miles out to sea.”

The lighthouse was necessary due to the region’s rocky coastline.

“Initially, the light was fueled by lard oil, which had to be constantly replenished by the lighthouse-keepers,” according to AI Pro. “In 1888, it was converted to a more efficient kerosene lamp, further Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, Calif. photographed by Glenn Franco Simmons.Point Pinos BuoyA decommissioned buoy at Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, Calif. improving the visibility of the light. In 1919, the lighthouse underwent a significant modernization when it was electrified. This upgrade brought greater reliability and efficiency, eliminating the need for manual adjustments and enhancing the visibility of the light’s beam. The Fresnel lens, known for its unique optical design, was also installed at this time, intensifying the light and extending its range even further.”

Lighthouse-keepers and their families lived at the lighthouse.

“These dedicated keepers performed daily maintenance tasks, watched for ships in distress, and diligently stoked the fires that kept the light shining brightly,” AI Pro stated. “In 1975, the U.S. Coast Guard automated the light, relieving the need for an on-site keeper. However, the Coast Guard continued to maintain the lighthouse and grounds. Today, the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History operates the lighthouse and offers guided tours to visitors, providing insights into its rich history and significance.”


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