Farallon Islands Lighthouse

Off the coast of San Francisco, California
First lit: January 1, 1856

On January 1, 1856, the lighthouse on the Farallon Islands was lit for the first time.

There are so many interesting stories from this desolate light station, it was hard to pick our favorite to share on social media! But the story of the Egg War is just too bizarre to keep to ourselves.

During the egg-laying season of the Common Murre, people from San Francisco would flock to the Farallon Islands in order to score the eggs of these seabirds, and sell them to the people of the Bay Area. It was such a profitable endeavor that competition became fierce, and in 1863 two men were killed in an armed conflict between rival groups. This conflict was called the Egg War.

Even one lightkeeper at the Farallon Islands joined in on this craze, gathering eggs in order to make some money on the side. At one point, a group of “eggers” even tried to force him and the other lightkeepers off of the islands. After this particular skirmish, the lighthouse service relieved the lightkeeper involved from his duty, for trying to monopolize “the valuable privilege of collecting eggs.” After that, in 1881, the government claimed sole-ownership of the island and made egg-collecting illegal.