Point Sur is one of those majestic and nostalgic light stations as it stands alone and aloof upon a Volcanic Rock just off Big Sur California. It still continues to guide ships along its treacherous coast. Equipped today with aero-beacon as it modern day guidance system, it performs the duty it was designed to do.
The island point was 369 ft high and its top was approx 10-12 ft wide, surrounded by steep rock faced vertical cliffs. A stretch of soft faced sand connected the island to the mainland. Several ships was lost near this point,Ventura was such a ship lost in 1875. In 1935, 2 of the keepers witnessed the the destruction of the airship MACON. It crashed in 1450 ft of sea water. Of 83 crew, only 2 perished.
By Nov 1888, the 40 ft granite tower was nearly finished. Its adjoining rooms was ready to receive fuel storage and whistle or fog horn blowers. The first signal was twin steam whistles. Wood was burned to heat the boiler and produce the steam. air horns replaced the steam whistles . Whenever fog reduced visibility, the signals where used to warn that ships were in danger of hitting the rocks off shore. Then they ran out of money. New money was appropriated in 1889 and work resumed.
The lens apparatus is 18 ft tall, the optical portion is almost 8 ft tall and 6 ft dia. The optic weighs 4,330 lbs. The apparatus has 16 panels of prisms, each with a "bulls eye" in the center surrounded by concentric rings of prismatic glass. Each ring projects a short distance beyond the previous one. Additional reflecting prisms are located above and below the center. As the cylinder of prisms turns, each panel "collects" and "bends" light into a single focused beam. Light from Point Sur's Fresnel lens was visible for 23 nautical miles.
California Lighthouses, Umbrella Guide, Sharlene and Ted Nelson
The History Of Point Sur