Mendocino County
The Point Arena Lighthouse

<Point Arena Lighthouse>

In the second half of the nineteenth century coastal shipping up and down the north coast of California was increasingly important to a growing economy and a series of lighthouses were established along the shoreline. The original lighthouse at Point Arena was constructed in 1870 of brick and mortar. It served the coast well for 36 years until the earthquake of 1906 rumbled through the San Andreas fault and completly destroyed it.

The U.S Lighthouse Service immediatly set about rebuilding this important coastal landmark. in 1908 the present lighthouse went into operation. It is 115 feet tall and its light features a hand ground Fresnel lens which was manufactured in France. This lens weighs two tons and floats in a pool of mercury. The first illumination behind the lens was provided by oil lamps. Triming the wicks was a critical duty that accounted for the nickname given to the lighthouse keepers - "wickies". After electricity was introduced powerful electric lamps replaced the oil lamps.

Today the lighthouse is being maintained by the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers. This non-profit organization is staffed by a group of local folks who maintain and restore this historic structure with funds that they generate by charging a small admission fee, selling items in their gift store and renting three vacation homes on the property. Docents provide tours and answer visitor's questions.

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