Fort Point Light, San Francisco

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Fort Point Light
Fort Point Light, U.S. Highway 101, San Francisco (San Francisco County, California).jpg
Fort Point Light
Fort Point Light, San Francisco is located in California
Fort Point Light, San Francisco
Location just below the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Coordinates 37°48′39″N 122°28′37″W / 37.81083°N 122.47694°W / 37.81083; -122.47694Coordinates: 37°48′39″N 122°28′37″W / 37.81083°N 122.47694°W / 37.81083; -122.47694
Year first constructed 1853
Year first lit 1864 (current tower)
Deactivated 1934
Foundation brick and granite third system fortification
Construction cast iron
Tower shape conical (nine-sided)
Markings / pattern white tower with a black lantern room
Height 27 feet (8.2 m) (110 feet (34 m) feet above sea level)
Original lens Fourth order Fresnel lens (1864) (removed)
Characteristic Alternate white & red flashes 5 sec, 30 sec revolution
ARLHS number USA-295
This article is about the lighthouse in San Francisco. For the lighthouse in Galveston Bay, see Fort Point Light (Texas). For the lighthouse in Maine, see Fort Point Light (Maine).

Fort Point Light is a retired lighthouse on Fort Point, directly beneath the south anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, reference #70000146.


There have been three lighthouses at Fort Point.

The original lighthouse, built in 1853, was a Cape Cod style lighthouse with an integral tower. It stood for only three months, and was never lit. While awaiting the arrival of its lens (from Paris), it was torn down to make room for the Army fort.

The second lighthouse at Fort Point was a squat wooden 36-foot (11 m) tower with four sides that sloped up to a square watch room. It was built on the narrow ledge between the fort and the water. In 1855, the light behind its fourth-order Fresnel lens was lit for the first time. Erosion undermined its foundation, and in 1863 it was torn down to make way for a bigger seawall.

Fort Point’s third lighthouse was built atop the wall of the fort. It was originally a small iron skeleton tower with a fifth-order lens. In 1902, the lens was upgraded to a fourth-order lens, which produced alternating white and red flashes.

In 1933, when work on the Golden Gate Bridge began, a fog signal and navigational light were placed at the base of the bridge’s south tower. In 1934, when the towers for the Golden Gate Bridge were completed, the lighthouse was deactivated. The bridge would block off much of the light from the lighthouse, and as the towers were 740 feet (226 m) tall, they provided a more visible warning for mariners.


Early keepers of Fort Point Light included:

  • B. F. Deane (1855-?)
  • J. C. Frachey (?)
  • George D. Wise (1860)
  • Henry Hickson (1860-?)
  • John D. Jenkins (?-1863)
  • George W. Omey (1863)
  • Scott Blanchard (1864–1866)
  • R. S. Martin (1866–1869)
  • Frank Thompson (1869–1871)
  • J. T. Hule (1871–1878)
  • James Rankin (lighthouse keeper) (1878–1919)
  • George D. Cobb (lighthouse keeper) (?-1939)
Fort Point Light amidst naval artillery rifles – U.S. Coast Guard Archive

Assistant keepers included:

  • Ephrin Sohn (1856-?)
  • Return J. Henter (1857–1859)
  • George D. Wise (1858–1860)
  • D. Dennison (1860)
  • G. W. Thomas (1860)
  • James Gormley (1860-?)
  • James Jenkins (1860-?)
  • James Heron (1860-?)
  • C. H. Warren (?)
  • G. W. Omey (?-1863)
  • G. A. Braley (1863)
  • J. J. Wickersham (1863–1865)
  • Ann Blanchard (1865–1866)
  • William Ferry (1866–1867)
  • Mrs. Rachel L. Jones (1867–1868)
  • Theresa Welch (1868)
  • F. B. Morehouse (1868–1869)
  • Mrs. Mary Thompson (1869–1871)
  • Sophie Hule (1874–1878)
  • John Riley (1878–1879)
  • H. P. McKeever (1879)
  • Frank P. Stanyan (1879)

External links[edit]