The Point Reyes Lighthouse was built in 1870 due the extremely high winds and dense fog that descend from the Gulf of Farallones onto Point Reyes, 31 km from the nearest town of Inverness California. It was assigned to Point Reyes in 1855, but its construction was delayed for fifteen years because of a dispute between the United States Lighthouse Board and the landowners over a fair price for the land.
The 11 m tower, first lit on December 1, 1870, spends the majority of the year wrapped in a thick cloak of fog and the quaint images of the lighthouse on the edge of a rocky cliff surrounded by murk and great waves crashing around it has inspired every kind of artists.
The poet Weldon Kees was so moved by the Point Reyes Lighthouse that he wrote the poem “The Exposed Reef.” His poem recounts the harrowing experience of a sailor being swept away by raging waters and crashing onto the jagged rocks at the base of the lighthouse. In 1954, Kees would return to Point Reyes to collaborate with the filmmaker and photographer William Heick to make a documentary on the lighthouse and its environs.
In any case, most people today will recognize the Point Reyes Lighthouse from the cult horror film The Fog, directed by John Carpenter. In the movie, Adrienne Barbeau portrays a disc jockey whose radio show broadcasts from the lighthouse. In her show she warn the townspeople of a supernatural fog carrying with it a crew of undead pirates.
The station was automated in 1975, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
The area where the Point Reyes Lighthouse is located is now a national park. The Lighthouse Visitor Center has exhibits on maritime history as well as information on the native sea life. Weather permitting, park visitors can walk the 300 plus steps down to the lighthouse and enter inside to view the lens and gear works
Author’s notes: It’s best to check on weather reports before attempting to visit the lighthouse, since the it is closed to visitors during bad weather.
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