Located 160 miles north of San Francisco, the Point Arena Lighthouse was originally constructed in 1870. The brick-and-mortar tower included ornate iron balcony supports and a large keeper residence with enough space to house several families. In April 1906, a devastating earthquake struck the light station. The keeper's residence and lighthouse were damaged so severely they had to be demolished.
The new lighthouse began operation in 1908, nearly 18 months after the quake. It stands 115 feet (35 m) tall, and featured a 1st Order Fresnel Lens, over six feet in diameter and weighing more than six tons. The lens was made up of 666 hand-ground glass prisms all focused toward three sets of double bullseyes. It was these bullseyes that gave the Point Arena Lighthouse its unique "light signature" of two flashes every six seconds. The optics, which held an appraised value of over $3.5 million, was set in solid brass framework, and was built in France.
In 1984, a nonprofit organization called the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers acquired the light station as part of a 25-year land lease from the Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation. In November 2000, the nonprofit group became the official owners of the property due to their diligent historic preservation and educational efforts. Daily visitation, gift store sales, memberships and the rental of the historic Keeper's homes on the property as vacation houses, all provide income to the group, for ongoing preservation, facility upgrades, and educational endeavors.
The Point Arena Light is California Historical Landmark No. 1035.
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