Old Point Loma

First Operational: 1855

Height: 43 feet

Accessibility: lighthouse museum, visitor center/gift shop, grounds open when monument open

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
Image by Manuel Weber

Visitor Information

Directions

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive 
San Diego, CA 92106

Driving to Cabrillo National Monument takes you through a Navy gate. If it is staffed by Navy personnel, slow down at the white gate and follow their instructions. When it is unstaffed, proceed slowly through the gate. For the next 2.5 miles of the drive, you will see more Navy structures and beautiful views of Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Downtown San Diego, and the Pacific Ocean.

History

Point Loma is a prominent peninsula marking the entrance to San Diego Harbor, the southernmost major port on the West Coast. One of the first sites in the state of California to be selected for a lighthouse, a beacon was constructed in 1854, but it took a year for the lens to arrive from Paris. Built and lit by 1855 in the Cape Cod style. During the lighthouse's 36 years of operation, the lighthouse operated atop Point Loma. However, it was quickly discovered that the lighthouse was situated too high above the harbor, as fog frequently observed the light. As such, by 1891, it was determined that a new light should be built further down closer to the water.

 

Captain Robert Israel was a lighthouse keeper at the station for 20 years before moving to the New Point Loma station below. During his time at the lighthouse, he commuted by wagon trail to San Diego and were forced to haul supplies by wagon across the dirt road. After the lighthouse was decomisioned, the lighthouse became abandoned, but nearby a monument to Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo was constructed in 1913 and the lighthouse remained, becoming part of Cabrillo National Monument. In the 1930's the structure was restored and tours were offered, and in the 1980's it was restored again. Today, the lantern room is home to the Miles Rocks Lighthouse lens, while the visitor center for the lighthouse hosts the lens of the New Point Loma Lighthouse located below. The Cabrillo National Monument remains a must see attraction for tourists visiting San Diego.