Visit the Point Old Loma Lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego

Light House at the Point Loma at the Cabrillo National Monument is a wonderful place to visit and connect with Old San Diego history and the gorgeous landscape where the light house sits. The historic area of Point Loma is also a natural preserve area where you can explore around the monument and lighthouse and then the beautiful and rugged coastline and down to the tidepool areas of the beach areas.

History of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse

The Light house sits high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the entry to San Diego Harbor – a perfect spot to have this old lighthouse to signal to all the ocean vessels coming into the harbor area. Surprising to note that this lighthouse was destined to be demolished at different points of history to its significant past.  Overlooking San Diego and at the tip of Point Loma which is 422 feet above sea level, this was where the lighthouse was started in 1854 and built in 1855 and put to service with a Fresnel lens that was used and had many prisms and bulls’-eyes to effectively radiate beams of light all through the light house and into the open sea area and leading ships safely into the harbor area. The lighthouse is two story’s and built in a Cape Cod style that reflected the simplicity of design made for lighthouses in the area and making it the highest lighthouse created in the USA.

The lighthouse had a relatively short lifespan of around 36 years in operation and had around 11 light house keepers with their families and assistants to run the lighthouse and surrounding area. There was a lot of turnover of these lighthouse keepers because of the isolation, lake of steady water supply and even low paid wages to the keepers and family. Over time a garden was added along with around 36 a barn, chicken coop and oil shed that was eventually converted to house assistants to the keepers.

History of the Point Loma Lighthouse

A new Point Loma Lighthouse established

Because of its high elevation and sometimes being shrouded with fog and clouds, a new Point Loma lighthouse was actually created in 1891 at a lower level and the old light house was abandoned and threatened to be demolished but was repurposed as a radio tower and signal tower, a tea house, an army post exchange and even a visitor’s center.

The last keeper, Robert Israel moved to watch over the new lighthouse and lived in two clapboard styled homes done in Mission Revival style that was popular during that time frame. Also, around the property were outhouses, two large water tanks, and an oil house completed the station and the barn from the old lighthouse was moved to the current site in the lower level. After 1960, the Ballast station was demolished but the new lighthouse that runs an automated beacon program is still operating on site.

A new Point Loma Lighthouse established

Changes to the Cabrillo National Monument

The Cabrillo National Monument was integrated with the National Park service and the lighthouse was rehabilitated around 1933 and included into the historic monuments of the national monuments area. The Original Fresnel lens was taken out for other uses but a similar one in the design of the original was placed back to the lighthouse for display purposes.

Today the original lighthouse on the high bluff is a popular attraction for visitors to hike to from the lower monument visitors center and enjoy some of the history, inside look at the lighthouse, furnishings and other memorabilia of the previous keepers and families that lived in this rugged and isolate area in San Diego.

Changes to the Cabrillo National Monument

Other things to explore around Cabrillo National Monument

Visit the tool shed that used to house the assistants to the keepers Now the sheds contain the Fresnel lens and other memorabilit.

Check out the tidepool areas

Hike the various trails at Cabrillo National Monument

Other things to explore around Cabrillo National Monument
San Diego attractions and locations

Further reading

Check out the Point Lomo Lighthouse history at Cabrillo National Monument site for more information and details about this monument and Cabrillo’s discoveries in the area and other fascinating notes about exploring California.

Check out these other posts on visiting the San Diego area

Visiting the Cabrillo National Monument

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A visit to Queen Califia’s Magic Circle

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