Point Conception Light

Coordinates: 34°26′55.51″N 120°28′14.71″W / 34.4487528°N 120.4707528°W / 34.4487528; -120.4707528
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Point Conception Light
Point Conception Light by U.S. Coast Guard Archive
LocationPoint Conception
United States
Coordinates34°26′55.51″N 120°28′14.71″W / 34.4487528°N 120.4707528°W / 34.4487528; -120.4707528
Constructed1856 (first)
Foundationstone basement
Constructionstucco, brick and wooden tower
Height52 feet (16 m)
Shapecylindrical tower with lantern behind fog signal building
Markingswhite tower, black lantern, greenish lantern roof
OperatorUnited States Coast Guard[1][2]
HeritageNational Register of Historic Places listed place Edit this on Wikidata
Fog signalcontinuous blast every 30s.
First lit1882 (current)
Focal height133 feet (41 m)
LensFirst order Fresnel lens Now on display (original), VRB-25 (current)
Range20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi)
CharacteristicFl W 30s.
Point Conception Light Station
Nearest cityLompoc, California
Area29 acres (12 ha)
NRHP reference No.81000176[3]
Added to NRHPFebruary 25, 1981

Point Conception Light is a lighthouse in Santa Barbara County, California, on Point Conception at the west entrance of the Santa Barbara Channel, California.[4][5][6] One of the earliest California lighthouses, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places on the Gaviota Coast.


Pen & Ink Drawing – U.S. Coast Guard
Aerial view, 2009
Point Conception Light main grounds

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed along the California coast in search for glory and gold. On October 18, 1542, he encountered heavy winds upon rounding the Point and was forced to turn back to San Miguel Island where he died. Second-in-command Bartolomé Ferrer took charge and again tried to round the Point but he was also unsuccessful.

The Point was named Punta de la Limpia Concepcion by Sebastián Vizcaíno in 1602, who was the next Spanish sailor to venture the Pacific waters along the California coast after Juan Cabrillo. The 1835 experience of the sailing ship Pilgrim, which was damaged and nearly capsized in a sudden change of weather here, is typical of boaters even today.

It was here at Point Conception in 1856, that the lighthouse was built high on the sandstone cliffs, above the location of the present lighthouse. The first order Fresnel lens[7] and steel tower for the lighthouse were made in France at a cost of $65,068 and was transported around Cape Horn. A report indicates that the lighthouse was severely damaged during the Fort Tejon earthquake of January 9, 1857.

The lighthouse was moved in 1881 because the fog would be less likely to obscure the light, and was rebuilt from the top of the bluff to a mesa halfway down, 133 feet (41 m) above the Pacific Ocean. The light station was automated by the United States Coast Guard in 1973.

The lighthouse was used as the location for the film The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959), and has appeared on two Toad the Wet Sprocket music videos: Come Back Down (Pale) and Walk on the Ocean (Fear).[citation needed]

In recent years Vandenberg Air Force Base restricts access from the northwest, and the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve restricts access from the adjoining land although a few people have reached the lighthouse by hiking west along the narrow rugged public beach several miles from the nearest road during low tide. You are not allowed on private land. Vandenberg Space Force base now has ownership of the land and the lighthouse.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of the United States: Central and Southern California". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  2. ^ California Historic Light Station Information & Photography United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 13 June 2016
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  4. ^ Light List, Volume VI, Pacific Coast and Pacific Islands (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2012. p. 3.
  5. ^ "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: California". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. Archived from the original on May 1, 2017.
  6. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of the United States: Central and Southern California". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  7. ^ http://www.nps.gov/maritime/light/ptconc.htm [dead link]


  • Shipwrecks, Smugglers and Maritime Mysteries, by Wheeler & Kallman, 1986

External links[edit]