Year established: 1909
Tower Height: 47 ft, 81 ft above sea level. Octagonal on fog signal building
Original Optic: 3rd Order, Fresnel, DCB-224
1873: The Lighthouse Service surveys Point Cabrillo for a light station.
1908: The demand for lumber to rebuild San Francisco from the 1906 earthquake meant that the demand for seafaring commerce was at a peak. The safety of sea going vessels and their cargo was critical, so construction of a lighthouse began.
1906: The Earthquake in San Francisco set off an inferno that increased demand for lumber for rebuilding; more commercial sea going traffic was making its way up and down the Mendocino coast, it was at all time high. The seafarers and the merchants put pressure on the Government for a lighthouse. Congress allocated $50,000 for a light station on Point Cabrillo.
1909: June 10th midnight. A new sentinel appears on the Pacific Coast and the light at Point Cabrillo was illuminated. The first appointed Chief lightkeeper Wilhelm Baumgartner; he had transferred from offshore St Georges reef lighthouse, invited surrounding residents of Pine Grove to go to the midnight ceremony. The First assistant wife Mrs. basset prepared supper for about 40 guests that dark foggy night.
1912: A concrete oil house structure was built at the light station.
1923: Wilhelm Baumgartner dies. he had lived with his wife for nearly 12 tears at Point Cabrillo.
1935: Electricity is introduced; electric motors replace the clockwork mechanism to rotate the lens and power the fog signal and the electric light bulb replaces the oil vapor lamp to light the lens.
1939: The Coast Guard takes over the light station from the Lighthouse Service. Bill Owens is the last civilian Lightkeeper at Point Cabrillo, Coast Guards and their families took up residence at Point Cabrillo.
1952: Bill Owens with his wife Cora relocated to Point Cabrillo from Point Arena. Cora described a battle with a wretched goat that endangered her flower garden.
“There was a goat that kept jumping the fence onto the light station and eating anything and everything that grew. The men kept putting him back into the field until they got disgusted and shot him in the leg. He just lay in the grass unable to walk. I felt sorry for him and kept a pan of water near his head. There was plenty of grass beside him that he could eat. After four or five days he got up and started walking, and he was put over the fence again. He stayed there after that.”
“Late in the evening, after dark, I heard a sound that reminded me of cattle or horses stampeding. I wondered what it was but had to wait until morning to find out. … On the south side of the property, I found that a great many rocks had been thrown up by the waves a great distance from the edge of the bluff. One huge rock was at least fifty feet back from the cliff.”
The Lens survived the storm intact was not damaged.
1963 Feb 28th: The last civilian light house keeper on the west coast, Bill Owens retires from Point Cabrillo. The coast guard manned the station
1978 The Coastal Conservancy acquired the Point Cabrillo land, and operated the Preserve with the North Coast Interpretive Association (NCIA).
1989, the Coast Guard planned to move the inactive Fresnel lens to a museum in Virginia. Local opposition kept the lens at Point Cabrillo.
1991: The Coastal Conservancy acquired the Light Station with its surrounding lands and aligned with the North Coast Interpretive Association, a non-profit group, to administer Point Cabrillo.
1992 The Coastal Conservancy takes over the light station from the Coast guard
1996: To restore the lighthouse especially the lantern room and to create public facilities the Conservancy is awarded a federal grant through the ISTEA program (Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Activities)
1998: August Work begins on the project. The Fresnel lens is dismantled and taken from the lantern tower for clean-up and refurbishing. Nov the lantern room was lifted from the tower.
1999 April, the lantern tower restoration is complete; the lens is refurbished and reinstalled in time for the 90th Anniversary. The Coast Guard, NCIA, and Coastal Conservancy help with funding and restoration.
2000 California Bond measure for $4 million is passed to Purchase the Point Cabrillo reserve by the California Department of Parks and Recreation
2009 The western building is partially restored, quarters for the caretaker.
- Point Carbillo, Cora Isabel Owens, The Keeper's Log, Spring 1990.
- The Keeper's Log, Summer 1999.
- Umbrella Guide to California Lighthouses, Sharlene and Ted Nelson, 1993.
CA Parks Mendocino
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