Yerba Buena Lighthouse

In the San Francisco Bay Area
First lit: October 1, 1875

On October 1 of 1875, the lighthouse on Yerba Buena Island was lit for the first time.

Yerba Buena Island has gone through a few name changes over the years. While it was originally known as Sea Bird Island, early Spaniards in the area called it “Yerba Buena,” which translates to good herb. This was in reference to a kind of mint that grew on the island. Later on during the Gold Rush years, it was referred to as Goat Island because of the goats that were pastured there. However, when the Board of Geographic Names officially named it “Goat Island” in 1912, people of the area expressed disappointment, and in 1931 it went back to the Spanish name: Yerba Buena Island.

The lighthouse on Yerba Buena Island was outfitted with a fifth order Fresnel lens – the same one that had been decommissioned at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse just two years before. Later in 1912, the fifth order lens was replaced with a fourth order lens, for better visibility and stronger beam.

Yerba Buena Island was an important place for all west coast lighthouses, because it was the location of the Lighthouse Board’s district depot from 1873 onward. Lighthouse tenders would be dispatched from that location to help service and inspect lighthouses up and down the California coastline.

The Yerba Buena Lighthouse continues as an Active Aid to Navigation to this day.