- Hours: Open Monday through Thursday. Check for current hours
- Reservations: Not required
- Cost: Small donation requested
- Location: Off scenic Ocean View Drive next to the golf course, driving directions below
- How Long: Unless you're especially interested in lighthouses, an hour will do
- Best Time to Visit: Any time they're open
History of Point Pinos LighthouseThe Point Pinos Lighthouse's Cape Cod-style bungalow with a light tower protruding from the roof was first kept by Oxfordshire, England native Charles Layton. In his first year as keeper, he was killed while serving with a sheriff's posse attempting to locate a famous outlaw. The event left his wife Charlotte A. Layton and their four children completely destitute.
It was uncommon at that time to allow a woman to become principal keeper, but the local collector of customs (who oversaw lighthouses) wrote a letter and sent petitions from local citizens to the Lighthouse Board in Washington, DC on her behalf. He succeeded and she was paid $1,000 per year, much more than her East Coast counterparts because few workers were available for the job. When she married a male assistant keeper, she stepped down and became assistant keeper.
Among Point Pinos lighthouse's famous visitors was writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who visited keeper Alan Luce in 1879. Stevenson was so charmed by the visit that he wrote a description of it in his book The Old Pacific Coast and in his book From Scotland to Silverado, he wrote: "Westward is Point Pinos, with the lighthouse in a wilderness of sand, where you will find the light keeper playing the piano, making models and bows and arrows, studying dawn and sunrise in amateur oil painting, and with a dozen other elegant pursuits and interests to surprise his brave, old-world rivals"
Another woman light keeper, Emily Fish, took over Point Pinos Lighthouse in 1883. Emily was the wife of a prominent doctor, Melancthon Fish. When Dr. Fish died in 1893, Emily was 50 years old. Her son-in-law, a Naval officer who was Inspector of the 12th District of the Lighthouse Service, had her appointed keeper of Point Pinos Lighthouse. Emily introduced a fine lifestyle with international antiques and a Chinese servant to the Point Pinos Light House. She added topsoil and numerous plants to create gardens on the 92 acres of sand and at times, she employed up to 30 laborers to tend the land and livestock. The station was extremely well kept and remained prosperous through the various farming projects during her tenure from 1893 to 1914.
In 1906, the Point Pinos Lighthouse was severely damaged by a tumultuous earthquake that rocked northern California all the way to San Francisco. This jarring event made it necessary to tear down and rebuild the tower with reinforced concrete. The work was completed in 1907 and the tower has stood since.
Getting to the Point Pinos Lighthouse
Point Pinos LighthousePoint Pinos Lighthouse can be reached from CA 1 by exiting at CA 68 west, then turning left onto Lighthouse Avenue, or by driving along the waterfront from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Ocean View Blvd. From downtown Pacific Grove, follow Lighthouse Avenue north until it intersects Asilomar Avenue.
Asilomar Avenue between Del Monte Blvd. and Lighthouse Ave. Pacific Grove, CA