Point Sur Lightstation is a lighthouse at Point Sur, California, 135 miles (217 km) south of San Francisco, on the 110-meter-tall rock at the head of the point.
The view there is breathtaking. The Lighthouse is perched up on a huge rock and surrounded by water on three sides, with shimmering views of the Pacific Ocean.
It’s one of the oldest and most remote lighthouses in California, a beacon for ships navigating some of the most treacherous waters of the California coast.
Already early navigators took note of the prominent rock, with Juan Cabrillo calling it a “moro” rock in 1542, and Sebastian Viscaino described it as a “point which appears as an island” on his 1603 map. Years later, in 1793, British explorer George Vancouver described the “small, high, rocky lump of land nearly half a mile from the shore.”
Either way, Point Sur has been a hazard to ships since California was first settled, and increased shipping traffic during the Gold Rush beginning in 1849 caused many wrecks.
When two tall coastal towers, Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and Pigeon Point Lighthouse, were constructed in the early 1870s to help light the California coast, between these two distant towers no major light existed, leaving a good portion of the shore dark to mariners.
Further punctuating the need for a lighthouse at Point Sur, the steamship Ventura ran aground on rocks during a dense fog on April 20, 1875. All 225 passengers were safely taken to shore, but the ship and its cargo were a total loss.
Thus, after a decade of requests, Congress finally allocated $50,000 in both 1886 and 1887 for a first-order light and a steam fog signal at Point Sur.
The lighthouse was completed in 1889, and its lantern first lit on August 1.
It was placed in a notch on the northwestern extreme of the rock, several meters below the summit, so it’s light could be seen below the typical fog level. Life on Point Sur was very isolated, and the only road led there, was long and often dangerous.
Soil had been hauled to the top of the rock to permit the families to cultivate a small vegetable garden, but other food staples and most of the supplies for the station arrived aboard a lighthouse tender, which called at the rock about every four months. A doctor was a four-hour horseback ride away in Monterey and, tho leave this lighthouse in the early years, residents had to climb down nearly 400 stairs and trek several miles to a county road. Highway 1 wasn’t completed from Carmel to San Simeon until 1937.
Despite various shipwrecks occurred near this stretch of coast, perhaps the most famous wreck was that of the USS Macon, a rigid airship which went down in a squall on February 12, 1935, not far from the lighthouse, killing two passengers.
The helium-filled dirigible was 240 meters in length and housed four biplanes used for reconnaissance. Keeper Henderson witnessed the event and at a Naval Board of Inquiry gave the following testimony: “When it was just abreast of the Point the fin seemed to go to pieces very suddenly. The fabric drifted back, some of it caught on the rudder. I know that there was a portion of the frame remaining but I cannot say whether any of the frame carried away. The failure seemed to start at the forward end of the fin. The front part rose up, then crumbled up swiftly. I could see a hole at the top of the hull.”
Point Sur Light Station was automated in 1972, and following the departure of the final Coast Guard crew that year, the support buildings were boarded up.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and, on April 23, 2004, it was officially transferred from the Coast Guard to California State Parks, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.
Today people report seeing the ghost of a man in a keeper’s outfit with grey, empty eyes. Perhaps it is the man who watched the Macon crash, still horrified with the sight of the two souls lost forever at sea?
Well, considering the tragic history that has bestowed this lonely lighthouse, it is easy to see why many people believe it to be haunted. Many believe that the lost souls from the shipwrecks that occurred near the lighthouse have been guided to land by its bright lamp. Lost and confused, some of them are thought to now have taken up residence within the buildings that scatter the area. The spirits include multiple sailors and young children, while others have claimed to hear a little girl’s voice.
Ghosts apart, the lighthouse is now a state historic park that offers limited visiting hours and tours. Here the details….
Images from web – Google Research