The Point Cabrillo Preserve, a unit of California State Parks, includes the historic 1909 Light Station (30.5 acres), and approximately 270 acres of undeveloped coastal bluffs and prairie.
The lighthouse has an original Third Order Fresnel lens that continues to operate 24 hours a day as an active Federal Aid to Navigation.
The property was purchased and preserved from development in 1992 by the California State Coastal Conservancy and managed by a non-profit affiliate, the North Coast Interpretive Association. In 2002, the property transferred to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Management of the Preserve’s programs and restoration activities was assumed by a newly formed non-profit organization: The Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation paid the Coastal Conservancy four million dollars for the historic Light Station. The coastal Conservancy has granted that money to the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association. These funds have been used to restore two of the three light keepers’ houses and the three historic out buildings. Restoration of the West Lightkeepers’ house exterior is complete, The West House interior, along with the historic fencing and gardens will be accomplished as additional restoration funds become available.
Point Cabrillo is easy to find. We’re just north of Mendocino, California. From Highway 1, turn onto Pt. Cabrillo Road at Russian Gulch and follow the signs. We’re 1.3 miles from Russian Gulch.
About this Establishment
Although Point Cabrillo was surveyed by the U. S. Lighthouse Service in 1873, construction of the Light Station didn’t begin until after the 1906 earthquake. The demand for lumber to rebuild San Francisco meant that maritime commerce on the north coast was at an all time high and a Lighthouse was critical to the safety of the ships and their valuable cargo. Construction of the Light Station began in 1908, and the lens was illuminated for the first time on June 10,1909, under head keeper Wilhelm Baumgartner.
Built and managed by the US. Lighthouse Service under the Department of Commerce the original Point Cabrillo Light Station included the buildings still standing today (with the exception of the current pump house and water tank). These include the three keeper’s residences, the coal buildings (now garages), the carpentry shop and smithy, and the oil house. Several other structures – two water towers, a barn, and the original pump house have since been removed. The barn, which was located to the south of the residences at the end of a side road, was used as a U. S. Air Force radio monitor’s training facility after WW II. It was burned by the Volunteer Fire Dept. as an exercise in the late 1980s.
The U. S. Lighthouse Service was officially absorbed into the Coast Guard in 1939. Bill Owens/ who also served at the Point Arena Lighthouse, was the last civilian lighthouse keeper at Point Cabrillo. He retired in 1963. Coast Guard officers and their families continued to live in the keepers houses until the Conservancy took possession in 1992.
The light tower houses a third order, British-built Fresnel lens by Chance Bros., with a range of 13-15 miles. The lens was originally powered by a kerosene oil lamp.
Time Period Represented: 1909
Price Style for this Establishment: Rooms and Cottages $177-$272/night
ADA Accessibility Notes
Private on-site cottages are handicapped accessible.
For More Information, Contact:
Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association (PCLK)
P. O. Box 641, Mendocino, CA 95460
45300 Lighthouse Road , Mendocino, CA 95460