Pigeon Point

First Operational: 1872

Height: 115 feet

Accessibility: museum, gift shop and grounds open, overnight accommodations at the hostel, lighthouse closed

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Visitor Information

General

Grounds: 8am to Sunset

Visitor Center and Park Store: 
Thursdays--Mondays, 10am--4pm

Depending on docent availability

 

(650) 879-2120

Directions

210 Pigeon Point Road

Highway 1

Pescadero, CA 94060

On California Highway 1, 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay and 27 miles north of Santa Cruz.

History

Pigeon Point is a coastal headland located along the central California coast south of San Francisco. It has been a vital location for a lighthouse since the mid 1800's, when ship traffic along the western coast of North America increased ten-fold after the onset of the California Gold Rush. The point is now named after the clipper ship Carrier Pigeon, which famously sank 500 feet off-shore in 1853. Locals called for a lighthouse to be built on the spot for nearly two decades, with Congress finally approving a 1st order lighthouse at the site in 1871.

 

A year later, the tallest lighthouse on the California coast (tied with Point Arena, roughly 140 miles to the north) was finally completed. Around the same time just a few miles south, a fog signal was also established on Año Nuevo Island (a light station would also be built there later). The Pigeon Point light station, including its elegant Victorian-style dwellings, housed families for almost a century until the Coast Guard demolished the original keepers houses in 1960 and automated the station in 1976. The lighthouse eventually fell into disrepair, particularly after two chucks of iron and brick from the upper portion of the tower fell in late 2001, forcing the lighthouse to close to the public. But the lighthouse's future still appears to be bright, as the California Department of Parks and Restoration recently announced that the lighthouse will receive $18+ million for complete restoration.