Play a round of golf by the sea before taking a look at the West Coast of the United States’ oldest operating lighthouse: the California Point Pinos Lighthouse.
History of the California Point Pinos Lighthouse
Constructed between 1853 and 1855, the building of the California Point Piños Lighthouse was part of the West Coast’s six lighthouse program; the funds for which were appropriated by the US Congress in 1852.
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The government originally purchased 25 acres and then an additional 67 acres of the Rancho Punta de Pinos, land acquired by way of the Mexican-American War, for the purpose of the project.
The California Point Pinos Lighthouse was built to guide boats away from the peninsula on the Southern entrance to the Monterey Bay. The lighthouse consists of a Conical-shaped brick tower on a square stone house.
The California Point Pinos Lighthouse’s Light
The lenses and prisms are originals; both of which were manufactured in France (the Fresnel lens). The Fresnel lens was originally developed by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel for lighthouses. The Fresnel lens has a large aperture and short focal length which allows the light to be seen from great distances.
Now, the light has a 1 kilowatt bulb. The light used to be turned on one hour before sunset and off an hour after sunrise, but in 1975 an automated strobe light was installed outside the tower; the main light was turned on permanently. The energy sources changed from its original whale oil to lard oil to kerosene in 1880, and then in 1919, electric lights were finally installed.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Tribute to the California Point Pinos Lighthouse
For literature lovers, the Point Pinos Lighthouse has a special significance. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of The Strange Case of Dr Jekll and Mr Hyde, wrote about the lighthouse in his book From Scotland to Silverado. The Stevenson School, in nearby Pebble Beach, was named after the writer.
The original lightkeeper, Charles Layton, was killed in 1856 while chasing Anastacio Garcia, an outlaw, with the sheriff’s posse. His wife, Charlotte, took over his post and eventually remarried in way of her assistant lightkeeper, George Harris. Emily Fish, lightkeeper from 1893 to 1914, was famously called the “Socialite Keeper” because of the many parties and dinners she hosted in the lighthouse.
Pacific Grove, California
Pacific Grove, California is well known for its Victorian houses. Like it’s neighboring cities in Monterey County, Pacific Grove was a kind of refuge for artists in the 1890s and for sometime following that period.
John Steinbeck’s father was Monterey County Treasurer, and the writer, himself, lived in his father’s Pacific Grove cottage for a number of years.
Pacific Groves encounters the annual migration of the Monarch Butterfly. The city still holds the tradition of a Butterfly Parade.
The California Point Pinos Lighthouse is open for tours Thursday through Sunday from 1 to 4 pm.