The Point Arena Lighthouse makes a great destination if you find yourself midway along California’s north coast. It’s always cool there, too, so guess where I wish I could be right this very moment. Admission is only $7.50 for adults and it’s well worth the price which funds the non-profit organization’s maintenance of the lighthouse and grounds. Here’s some of what you’ll see….The current lighthouse dates from 1907 (in operation, 1908) as the original was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake. Our very chatty but knowledgeable docent told us that the stairs in the current lighthouse are the very same ones used in the 1870s original. Even though the old lighthouse was destroyed by the quake, the iron spiral staircase lent enough stability that the lighthouse keeper (who was in the lighthouse at the time!) was able to get out alive.They are some seriously twisty stairs and there are 125 of them. Quite the workout. The last level is a ladder rather than stairs so wear good shoes. You’re able to walk into the lens room and look out the windows. Then, one level down (down the ladder again), you can walk outside on the narrow balcony and really get great views, feel the wind on your face, and enjoy. Bring your camera.
Here’s what you see from the top:
There’s a small museum where you can see the lighthouse’s original lens and a tastefully curated gift shop (I actually wanted to buy a lot of things and that is unusual for me). You can even do the cheesy but irresistible squish-a-penny schtick. I did.
The old lighthouse keepers’ quarters are now available for vacation rentals but I don’t know what the rooms are like in person. Great location, though.
For a historical view, the Library of Congress has a stereograph of the early lighthouse. They’ve dated it at ca. 1868 but the original lighthouse wasn’t constructed until 1870 so they’re a little off. Click the image below to enlarge.
Here’s another image from around the same period at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. This one shows the Keepers’ house better (there were 4 keepers at a time plus their families so up to 30 people lived in that house at once). Stereographs are awesome.
Have you ever been to a lighthouse?