Trinidad Head Light

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Trinidad Head Light
Trinidad Memorial Light (replica) in 2004
Trinidad Head Light is located in California
Trinidad Head Light
United States
Coordinates41°3′7.0″N 124°9′5.2″W / 41.051944°N 124.151444°W / 41.051944; -124.151444Coordinates: 41°3′7.0″N 124°9′5.2″W / 41.051944°N 124.151444°W / 41.051944; -124.151444
Year first constructed1866 (first)
Year first lit1871 (current)
Foundationstone basement
Tower shapesquare pyramidal tower
Tower height25 feet (7.6 m)
Focal height196 feet (60 m)
Original lensFourth order Fresnel lens (1898)
Current lens14.8 inches (375 mm) optic
Range14 nautical miles (26 km; 16 mi)
CharacteristicOc W 4s.
Fog signaloriginal: bell
current: horn, 1 blast every 30s.
Admiralty numberG4408
ARLHS numberUSA-855
USCG number6-0525[1][2]
Managing agentU.S. Bureau of Land Management[3][4]
Heritageplace listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata
Trinidad Head Light Station
Nearest cityTrinidad, California
Area20 acres (8.1 ha)
Architectural styleOther, Lighthouse
MPSLight Stations of California MPS
NRHP reference #91001098[5]
Added to NRHPSeptember 3, 1991

Trinidad Head Lighthouse is a 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 1914,[6] 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."[7]

The wave he described was the highest recorded wave on the coast.[8] 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.[8]

Buildings and structures[edit]

The historic Bell House, the current location of the fog signal.

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-pound (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]

Head keepers[edit]

  • Jeremiah Kiler (1871 – 1888)
  • William A. Henderson (1888)
  • Frederick L. Harrington (1888 – 1916)
  • Josephine I. Harrington (1916)
  • Edward Wiborg (1916 – at least 1930)
  • Malcolm Cady (at least 1932 – 1940)
  • Perry S. Hunter (1940 - at least 1946)[9]

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. ^ Trinidad Head The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 18 June 2016
  4. ^ California Historic Light Station Information & Photography United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 18 June 2016
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
  6. ^ "Trinidad Head Lighthouse Trinidad California Landmark". Archived from the original on 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2015-11-04.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b "Trinidad Head Light". Lighthouses of Humboldt County. Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  9. ^ Trinidad Head, CA Lighrhouse Friends. Retrieved 18 June 2016

External links[edit]