Piedras Blancas

First Operational: 1875

Height: 70 feet

Accessibility: Fog signal building, outbuildings, lighthouse, and grounds open during guided tours

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Visitor Information

Directions

15950 Cabrillo Hwy, San Simeon, CA 93452

From Southern California, take US Highway 101 north to San Luis Obispo. Exit at Highway 1 and continue north 48 miles. From Northern California and the Central Valley, take Highway 101 to Highway 46 west. Take Highway 1 north about 18 miles.

History

Piedras Blancas, a point extending just south of the Big Sur coast, is known not only for its beauty, but for its abundant natural resources. San Simeon Bay became a substantial port, and exported lumber, farm produce, and cinnabar. As such, a lighthouse was built to aid in maritime traffic up and down the California coast. 

 

On June 10, 1872 Congress granted $75,000 to the Lighthouse Board and a first order Fresnel lens was built and installed inside the lighthouse. The lens contained eight flash panels and rotated once every 2 minutes, producing a white flash every 15 seconds. The lens is now on display next to the Veterans Memorial Building on Main Street in Cambria.

 

 The lighthouse was originally 100 feet in height, although constant earthquakes damaged the structure and in 1948 it was declared structurally unsound. In 1949, the top three floors of the lighthouse were removed and the height of the tower was reduced to about 70 feet. Today the  lighthouse is open to public tours and the surrounding coastline is part of the California Coastal National Monument. In the future, the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Association hopes to rebuild the top of the lighthouse.