Point Bonita Lighthouse

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Point Bonita Lighthouse
Point Bonita Lighthouse in May 2018.jpg
Point Bonita Lighthouse in 2018
Point Bonita Lighthouse is located in California
Point Bonita Lighthouse
LocationSan Francisco Bay
United States
Coordinates37°48′56″N 122°31′46″W / 37.815614°N 122.529578°W / 37.815614; -122.529578Coordinates: 37°48′56″N 122°31′46″W / 37.815614°N 122.529578°W / 37.815614; -122.529578
Year first constructed1855 (first)
Year first lit1877 (current)
Foundationmasonry basement
Constructionbrick and cement building
Tower shapehexagonal tower with balcony and lantern on fog signal building
Markings / patternwhite tower, black lantern dome
Tower height33 ft (10 m)
Focal height124 ft (38 m)
Original lensSecond order Fresnel lens
Current lensSecond order Fresnel lens
Range18 nautical miles (33 km; 21 mi)
CharacteristicOc W 4s.
Fog signal2 blasts every 30s
Admiralty numberG4052
ARLHS numberUSA-618
USCG number6-0370
Managing agentGolden Gate National Recreation Area[1] [2]
Heritageplace listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata
Point Bonita Light Station
Area14 acres (5.7 ha)
Built1855 (1855)
Architectural styleLighthouse
MPSLight Stations of California MPS
NRHP reference #91001099[3]
Added to NRHPSeptember 3, 1991

Point Bonita Lighthouse is a lighthouse located at Point Bonita at the San Francisco Bay entrance in the Marin Headlands near Sausalito, California. Point Bonita was the last manned lighthouse on the California coast. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.[3]


The original Point Bonita Lighthouse, a 56-foot (17 m) brick tower, was located too high. Unlike the East Coast of the United States, the West Coast has dense high fog, which leaves lower elevations clear. The original light was 306 feet (93 m) above sea level so the second order Fresnel lens was often cloaked in fog and could not be seen from the sea. In 1877, the lighthouse was moved to its current location at 124 feet (38 m) above sea level. The United States Coast Guard currently maintains the light and fog signal. It is accessible to the public during limited hours (12:30 PM–3:30 PM) on Sundays and Mondays[4]. Up until 1940 the lighthouse could be reached without a bridge, but erosion caused a trail leading to the lighthouse to crumble into the sea. A wooden walkway was installed, but when that became treacherous the suspension bridge was built in 1954.

As of January 6, 2010, the suspension bridge to the light house was closed to public access. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the bridge, which was 56 years old, started to rust. It underwent repairs in 1979 and again in 1991, but the metal components were not able to stand up to the sea spray. The new span reopened April 13, 2012. The new bridge construction cost a little over $1 million. It is made of tropical hardwood with steel suspension cables and attachments.[5]

Historical Information from USCG web site:

  • Point Bonita Light Station had the first fog signal on the West Coast. It was an Army surplus 24-pounder siege gun.
  • This light is the only one in America that can be reached only by crossing a suspension bridge.
  • In 1877 the lighthouse was moved to its current location because the original location was often too obscured by fog for the light to be visible from the bay. This location required the builders to overcome many challenges, including the need for a hand carved, 118-foot (36 m) long hard rock tunnel.[6]

More than 300 boats ran aground near the Golden Gate during the Gold Rush years. One shipwreck, the SS City of Rio de Janeiro, is just a few hundred feet offshore from the light.

In popular media[edit]

On the television show Murder in the First the lighthouse was a setting at the end of the second-season episode "Schizofrenzy."

The lighthouse can be found in the video game Watch Dogs 2.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Point Bonita The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 13 June 2016
  2. ^ California Historic Light Station Information & Photography United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 13 June 2016
  3. ^ a b National Park Service (2013-11-02). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  4. ^ https://www.nps.gov/goga/pobo.htm
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-08. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  6. ^ "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: California". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. Retrieved 2008-08-19.

External links[edit]