The demand for lumber to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake meant that maritime commerce on the north coast was at an all time high, and a lighthouse was critical to the safety of the ships and their valuable cargo. Construction of the Point Cabrillo Light Station began in 1908, and its lens, a British-build Fresnel lens, was illuminated for the first time in 1909. The station operated under the U.S. Lighthouse Service and then the Coast Guard before being acquired by the California State Coastal Conservancy in 1991.
Today the lighthouse and its grounds, along with 270 acres of undeveloped coastal bluffs and prairie, are part of the California State Parks system. The lighthouse has been completely restored, and the Fresnel lens, which had been decommissioned in 1973, has been refurbished and remounted. The beautiful light keeper’s house and cottages are furnished with early 1900s period antiques, and are available for stays of two nights or longer. They are cozy and intimate, with ocean and headlands vistas.
The Point Cabrillo Nature Preserve has some of the most beautiful scenery on the West Coast. Deer roam the headlands and harbor seals and black oystercatchers grace the rocky shorelines. There are 17 catalogued archeological sites in the preserve. During the Mendocino Whale Festival the lighthouse has events for the whole family, including games for the kids and whale-watching tours; you may see some of the estimated 18,000 gray whales that migrate from Mexico to Alaska every spring. The lighthouse also has a gift shop offering wonderful souvenirs.
WHERE: midway between Mendocino and Caspar, off Hwy 1 on Point Cabrillo Dr. at Russian Gulch. Follow signs.
MORE INFO: 800-262-7801 | PointCabrillo.org
Next Up: #18 – Mendocino Film Festival