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Point Sur and Lighthouse

Point Sur, Big Sur 

Point Sur, a large 361-foot (110m)-tall rock has always been a hazard to navigation.The point is about 135 miles (217 km) south of San Francisco, in Big Sur. Money was allocated for the Point Sur Light in 1886, after 11 years of petitioning the United States Lighthouse Service Board. The lighthouse is still an active navigational aid, and it is open to the public. A photo of Point Sur in light fog is here.

Point Sur began to experience significant offshore traffic during the California Gold Rush, resulting in shipwrecks off the unlighted coast. The wreck of the Ventura, in 1875, resulted in many lives lost, and influenced the construction of the lighthouse. Construction of the lightstation was completed on August 1, 1889.

The lightkeepers and their families led very isolated lives on Point Sur. There was only one long road to Monterey. The lightkeepers and families received supplies by sea every 4 months. Medical needs were cared for by Doctor Roberts, who was also instrumental in petitioning for the construction of Highway 1. After the light was automated by the Coast Guard in 1972, the original lens was loaned to the Maritime Museum of Monterey, where it is on display. In 2004, control of the Point Sur Lighthouse was transferred from the Coast Guard to California State Parks.

Point Sur has experienced a number of shipwrecks, both without and with a lighthouse, including those of the: SS Los Angeles (1873), Ventura (1875), Majestic (1909), U.S.S. H-3 (1915), Cantania (1915), Shna-Yak (1916), GC Lindquer (1921), Thomas Wand (1922), Babinda (1923), Rhine Maru (1930), Panama (1930), U.S.S. Chicago (1933), Lupine (1933), U.S.S. Macon (1935), Frank Lawrence (1946), Sparrows Point (1947), and Howard Olsen (1956).

The lighthouse has used several types of light sources and foghorns, and used a first-order Fresnel lens that is almost 9 feet (3 m) tall and which weighs 4330 pounds. The entire structure, with pedestal and clockworks, was 18 feet (5 m) tall and weighed 9570 pounds.

Point Sur is the only complete turn-of-the-century lightstation in California that is open to the public, and it is part of the Point Sur State Historic Park.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®.  Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide!  

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