Trinidad Head Light

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Trinidad Head Light
Trinidad Head Light is located in California
Trinidad Head Light
Location Trinidad, California
Coordinates 41°3′6.86″N 124°9′5.18″W / 41.0519056°N 124.1514389°W / 41.0519056; -124.1514389Coordinates: 41°3′6.86″N 124°9′5.18″W / 41.0519056°N 124.1514389°W / 41.0519056; -124.1514389
Year first constructed 1866
Year first lit 1871
Automated 1974
Foundation Stone
Construction Brick
Tower shape Square Pyramidal
Height 25 feet (7.6 m)
Focal height 196 feet (60 m)
Original lens Fourth order Fresnel lens (1898)
Current lens 14.8 inches (375 mm) optic
Range 14 nautical miles (26 km; 16 mi)
Characteristic Occulting white, 4s
Fog signal Original, bell
Current, Horn, 1 every 30 sec
Admiralty number G4408
ARLHS number USA-855
USCG number

6-0525 [1] [2]

Trinidad Head Light Station
Nearest city Trinidad, California
Area 20 acres (8.1 ha)
Architectural style Other, Lighthouse
Governing body Federal
MPS Light Stations of California MPS
NRHP Reference # 91001098[3]
Added to NRHP September 3, 1991

Trinidad Head Lighthouse is an historic lighthouse in Trinidad, California. It is 20 miles (32 km) north of Eureka, California, built in 1871.


The low, square, brick tower, painted white, was built in 1871.[2] The light is only 20 feet (6.1 m) above ground, but the headland on which it stands gives it an elevation of 196 feet (60 m) above the sea.[1] Despite the great height above the sea, heavy seas have been known to reach it. In 1913, the keeper made the following report:

"At 4:40 p. m. I observed a sea of unusual height. When it struck the bluff the jar was very heavy. The lens immediately stopped revolving. The sea shot up the face of the bluff and over it, until the solid sea seemed to me to be on a level with where I stood in the lantern. The sea itself fell over onto the top of the bluff and struck the tower about on a level with the balcony. The whole point between the tower and the bluff was buried in water."[4]

The wave he described was the highest recorded wave on the coast.[5] After the sea struck the lighthouse and extinguished the light, service was restored in four hours by Lightkeeper F.L. Harrington, the keeper from 1888 to 1916.[5]

Buildings and structures[edit]

The station originally consisted of the small two-story light tower, a single Victorian residence, and a small barn. In 1898, a bell house was constructed and a 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) bell was added that was operated by weights. A second keeper was assigned at that time and the quarters were expanded to accommodate two families. In 1947 the fog signal changed to an air horn. In 1949, the Trinidad Civic Club constructed a facsimile of the tower in a park overlooking the harbor and installed the original lens in its structure as a memorial to those lost or buried at sea. The 4,000 pound bell is displayed alongside the tower. In the late 1960s, the Coast Guard razed the original dwelling and barn and constructed the present triplex. The fog signal was discontinued when the station was automated in 1974. However, the complaints from the citizens of Trinidad Head were so vocal that the Coast Guard was forced to install the present ELG 300, operated by a fog detector. The new fog signal is operated in the original bell house. The original tower remains essentially unchanged.[2]

National Register listing[edit]

The lighthouse was listed as Trinidad Head Light Station on the National Register of Historic Places on September 3, 1991, reference number 91001098, The 1900 fog-signal building is a contributing building and the 1871 lighthouse tower is listed as a contributing structure. The 1969 keeper's building which replaced the original keeper's residence, is non-contributing to the listing.

See also[edit]

Other historic lighthouses in Humboldt County:


  1. ^ a b Light List, Volume VI, Pacific Coast and Pacific Islands (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2012. p. 6. 
  2. ^ a b c "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: California". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. 
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  4. ^ Fradkin, Philip L. (May 12, 1997). The seven states of California: a natural and human history. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 474. ISBN 978-0520209428. 
  5. ^ a b "Trinidad Head Light". Lighthouses of Humboldt County. Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved 25 March 2012.