Piedras Blancas Light Station
|Location||Point Piedras Blancas, California|
|Year first constructed||1874|
|Year first lit||1875|
|Tower shape||Conical with flat top|
|Markings / pattern||White with black trim|
|Height||70 feet (21 m)|
|Focal height||142 feet (43 m)|
|Original lens||First order Fresnel lens made by Henri Lapaute|
|Characteristic||Flashing white every 10 seconds|
Piedras Blancas Light Station
|Nearest city||San Simeon, California|
|Area||20 acres (8.1 ha)|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival, Gothic, Romanesque|
|Governing body||Bureau of Land Management|
|MPS||Light Stations of California MPS|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||September 03, 1991|
History and Management
The first-order Fresnel lens at Piedras Blancas was first illuminated on February 15, 1875. The Piedras Blancas lighthouse was originally 100 feet (30 m) high to the top of the ventilator ball. Earthquakes over the years damaged the structure. On December 31, 1948, final damage from an earthquake centered 6 miles (9.7 km) off the point led to the decision to remove the upper three floors: the fourth landing, watch room, and lantern. Missing the ornate upper floors, the truncated lighthouse now stands about 70 feet (21 m) tall. The lens was moved and is on display in the nearby community of Cambria.
A sound signal was added in 1906. In 1939, management was transferred from the United States Lighthouse Service to the United States Coast Guard. The United States Coast Guard managed the light station from 1939 to 2001. In 1975, the light was automated, the sound signal removed, and the light station was unmanned. A group of biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received permission to establish a biological research station in 1977. In 2001, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) assumed management of the site and was tasked by the public to offer structured public access, allow site-specific research to continue, and restore the light station to its period of greatest historical significance (i.e., 1875 to 1940). The Piedras Blancas Light Station Association is a non-profit partner of the BLM, helping to raise funds for restoration and maintenance.
Access to the 19-acre (7.7 ha) site is by guided tours, available every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (except federal holidays) year round. From June 15 through August 31, tours are offered Mondays through Saturdays (except federal holidays). The fee is $10 for adults; $5 for ages 6 to 17; and free for ages 5 and under. Special tours for parties of 10 or more may be arranged. The tour lasts two hours and includes the historic lighthouse and support buildings, wildlife viewing, and spectacular scenery along an easy half-mile interpretive trail.
Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery
The largest elephant seal rookery on the West Coast is located about a mile south of the lighthouse along California Highway One. A large parking area and boardwalk offer easy access to view the elephant seals. Docents from Friends of the Elephant Seal provide insight as to what the visitor is viewing. Open year round.
Marine protected areas
Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area are marine protected areas offshore from Piedras Blancas Light Station. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.
- Light List, Volume VI, Pacific Coast and Pacific Islands (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2013. p. 3.
- "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: California". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.
- Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of the United States: Central and Southern California". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- NOAA chart #18700: Point Conception to Point Sur, 1/216116, 2003
- The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (Pub.L. 110–229, 122 Stat. 754-876, enacted May 8, 2008)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Piedras Blancas Lighthouse.|
- Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area, Bureau of Land Management
- Piedras Blancas Light Station Association