Punta Gorda Lighthouse

Near Petrolia, California
First lit: January 15, 1912

On January 15, 1912, the Punta Gorda Lighthouse in northern California was lit for the first time.

The signature of the fourth order Fresnel Lens at Punta Gorda was a double flash every fifteen seconds, differentiating itself from other California lighthouses. Punta Gorda was an isolated light station, and the nearest town of Petrolia was an eleven mile horseback ride away. One lightkeeper (who had also served at offshore island lighthouses) called getting supplies to Punta Gorda, “the toughest job you ever saw.” Even after roads were built leading to the lighthouse, heavy winter storms would often wipe them out and strand the lightkeepers in place.

In 1951, the Coast Guard abandoned this light station, after installing a lighted buoy offshore to warn ships of the dangerous sunken rocks. The land was transferred over to the bureau of land management, and people soon began living in the lightkeeper’s homes rent free. When blm heard of this, they burned down the buildings in 1970. All that stands now is the shell of the lighthouse and the oil house, and the foundations of the other structures.

If you take a look at the photos of the lightkeeper’s homes from the early days of Punta Gorda, you’ll no doubt notice the resemblance to the homes here at Point Cabrillo. They started construction just a year after our light station was completed.

Point Cabrillo very well could have suffered the same fate as Punta Gorda. If it weren’t for the local community that gathered around our light station to restore it, and the continued support of our donors around the world that help us maintain it, we might look much the same.

If you’re planning a visit to Punta Gorda Lighthouse, get ready for a hike! It is six miles round trip… through the sand!