Tangled among the rugged coastline north of Point Ano Nuevo, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is located 40 miles south of San Francisco and about 25 miles north of Santa Cruz. A huge structure with white external bricks and an elaborate cast iron internal framework, the light is among the largest on the California coast.
Formerly know as Punta de las Balenas (Whale Point), the point got its current name from an 1853 shipwreck at a different location involving the clipper ship Carrier Pigeon. From 1853 to 1870, three more shipwrecks occurred in the area, and plans for a lighthouse were drafted.
Construction of the tower began in 1871, and the light was first lit in late 1872. An interesting fact is that the original (and still in use) 8,000-pound Fresnel lens is thought to have formerly resided inside the light at Cape Hatteras. A modern electric optic powers the light today.
Use NOAA Chart 18680.
Characteristics: Flashing white every ten seconds with a 148-foot-high focal plane.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse is one of a long string of lighthouses situated on dangerous, rocky points along the California Coast to aid recreational and commercial interests in their passages up and down the coast. There are no marine facilities of interest, and the light is solely an offshore aid to navigation.
Tours of the tower itself are available on weekends only, but the grounds are open from 8 a.m. to sunset.