Point Conception Light

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Point Conception Light
U.S. Coast Guard Archive
Point Conception Light is located in California
Point Conception Light
Location Point Conception, California
Coordinates 34°26′55.51″N 120°28′14.71″W / 34.4487528°N 120.4707528°W / 34.4487528; -120.4707528Coordinates: 34°26′55.51″N 120°28′14.71″W / 34.4487528°N 120.4707528°W / 34.4487528; -120.4707528
Year first constructed 1856
Year first lit 1882 (current tower)
Automated 1973
Foundation Stone
Construction Stucco, wood and brick
Tower shape Cylindrical tower behind building
Markings / pattern white with black lantern
Height 52 feet (16 m)
Focal height 133 feet (41 m)
Original lens First order Fresnel lens, removed 2012
Current lens unknown
Range 20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi)
Characteristic white flash every 30 s.
Fog signal Horn: Continuous, 1 every 30 seconds
Admiralty number G3964
ARLHS number USA-620
USCG number

6-0200 [1] [2] [3]

Point Conception Light Station
Nearest city Santa Barbara, California
Area 29 acres (12 ha)
Governing body Federal
NRHP Reference # 81000176[4]
Added to NRHP February 25, 1981

Point Conception Light is a lighthouse on Point Conception at the west entrance of the Santa Barbara Channel, California. It is one of the earliest California lighthouses and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Pen & Ink Drawing – U.S. Coast Guard

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[5] 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.

Aerial view, 2009

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).

In recent years Vandenberg Air Force Base restricts access from the northwest, and a private ranch 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. Some have also arranged well in advance with the Coast Guard for access.

See also[edit]



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

External links[edit]