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Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

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piedras blancas lighthouse

Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

© Betsy Malloy 2006. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
  • Hours: Tours are given several days a week. Check the current schedule or call 805-927-29681 for reservations and information.
  • Cost: No admission fee
  • Location: California Highway One north of Hearst Castle
  • Best Time to Visit: Any time
Piedras Blancas takes its name from a white rock outcrop at the end of the point. This location was chosen the early 1870's to fill a gap between lights at Point Conception and Point Sur, and $70,000 was allocated for the project, but it took until 1875 to complete. Captain Ashley, who had supervised contruction of lighthouse at Point Arena was in charge.

The Piedras Blancas lighthouse tower was 115 feet tall, with a first-order Fresnel lens cut and polished in France, creating a bright light that could be seen 25 miles from shore, its signature a flash every 15 seconds. A two-story, Victorian-style house was finished later in 1875, and a fog signal building and another keeper's house were built in 1906.

Captain Lorin Vincent Thorndyke was the first Piedras Blancas lightkeeper, serving from 1876 until he retired in 1906. Records of his successors have been lost, but we do know that the civilian U.S. Lighthouse Service ran Piedras Blancas until 1939, when the Coast Guard took over.

An electric beacon replaced the old kerosene one in 1949. The station was automated and unmanned in 1975, and closed in 1991. The Coast Guard turned the Piedras Blancas Light Station over to The Bureau of Land Management in 2001, and it re-opened for tours in 2005.

Visiting Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

Piedras Blancas lighthouse is located on California Highway 1 at 15950 Cabrillo Highway, just north of San Simeon. Meet the tour at the old motel about 1 1/2 north of the entrance of the light station.

The Fresnel lens from the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse is currently on view on Main Street in downtown Cambria, next to the Lawn Bowling Club.

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