Point Arena Quick Facts
Year Station Established: 1870
Is the Light operational? Yes
Year Light First Lit: 1908
Year Automated: 1977
Tower Height: 115 ft.
Original Optic: 1st Order, Fresnel
Present Optic: DCB-224
Existing Keepers Quarters? No
Point Arena Lighthouse
Point Arena, CA
(12 photos, 251KB total download)
Last Visited: May, 2003
Increasing shipping traffic, dangerous reefs, and several tragic shipwrecks all combined in the mid-19th century to prompt the construction of a series of lighthouses along the California coast. One of the most impressive of these was the original Point Arena Light, which began operation in 1870. Located at the tip of a narrow peninsula, it guided ships faithfully for 36 years until it was destroyed by an earthquake.
In April of 1906 a devastating quake struck San Francisco. The movement of the earth was even more powerful near the town of Point Arena, 130 miles north, which was nearly destroyed. The brick and mortar lighthouse was fractured so badly that it was ultimately condemned and torn down. The once ornate Keepers' residence was also damaged beyond repair. Only the wood framed Fog Signal Building survived.
Construction of a new tower soon began. The government contracted with a company specializing in factory smokestacks to design a quake proof structure. The result was the first steel reinforced concrete lighthouse in the United States. The new 115 foot lighthouse made use of the salvaged iron spiral stairs and lens room from the original light, and began operation in January of 1908. The original residence was replaced by four new homes.
Through the years many changes took place at the Point Arena Light Station. The Lighthouse Service was eliminated and the Coast Guard took over the task of maintaining the light. In 1977 the Coast Guard automated the light by installing a rotating beacon on the tower balcony, and the 2 ton crystal and brass First Order Fresnel lens went dark. Automation also signaled an end to public access as staff was reduced at the station. The lighthouse remained inaccessible for many years until a group of local enthusiasts approached officials with the idea of allowing public tours. In 1982 this group became a non-profit corporation known as the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc.
Point Arena Lighthouse & Museum
Museum open daily (Call for hours - 707-882-2777)
About 28 miles into the long drive on SR1 you'll enter the town of Point Reyes Station. Just before getting into town you can take a left onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd and take that appx. 18 miles to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Click here for complete directions to Point Reyes.
Also, if you're in the town of Point Reyes Station around lunchtime, there's a nice TexMex restaurant on the left side of the road just as you enter town. Real nice atmosphere and good food.
Nearest Address: 43202 Lighthouse Rd Point Arena, CA
- From San Francisco (I know, that's a long way from Pt. Arena) take Route 101 north over the Golden Gate Bridge.
- About 7 miles after going over the bridge, take the exit for SR 1 (Route 1). I believe it's the 5th exit after the bridge.
- Now for the long drive... Take SR1 for about 123 miles. This will take you through various towns such as Stinson Beach, Point Reyes Station, Bodega, and Bodega Bay.
- After that 123 miles, you'll take a left onto Lighthouse Rd (follow the signs for the lighthouse). Follow Lighthouse Rd. for about 2.6 miles to the lighthouse.
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