the Point Sur Lighthouse stands atop a tall rock outcropping at the head of Point Sur, about 130 miles south of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway. not surprisingly, the point has proved dangerous for vessels as long as they have traveled the Pacific coast of the U.S., with over a dozen notable wrecks – initially spurred in part by the increased traffic associated with the gold rush – between the 1890s and 1960s. beginning in 1874, following the wreck of the USS Ventura, the United States Lighthouse Service began campaigning for a light at Point Sur, arguing that of all the spots along the California coast still in need of safety measures, Point Sur was of the “greatest importance.” in conjunction with citizen petitions, USLS lobbying eventually prompted Congress to approve $50,000 for construction of a lighthouse in 1886, with an additional $50,000 allocated in 1887.
the resulting lighthouse and associated structures (which technically make Point Sur a lightstation) was built by a 25-man team over 1888 and was lit for the first time in August 1889, featuring a first-order Fresnel lens. life for the keeper, three assistants and their families was very isolated – moreso than Point Loma for sure – with the road to Monterrey often impassable and with resupplies coming in by boat every four months or so. for the most part, they had to be entirely self-sufficient.
the light and foghorn remain operational today, with both being updated to current technology by the Coast Guard in 1972 (the light was automated; the foghorn replaced with the impressive sounding “Super Tyfon Double Fog Signal” that can be heard up to 3 nautical miles distant). the last keeper left Point Sur in 1974. now, the Coast Guard services the station, but it is part of the Point Sur State Historic Park, run by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.