Point Cabrillo is in Northern California, about midway between San Francisco and the border with Oregon. In 1908 an octagonal lighthouse tower was built with an integral fog signal building in an attractive building that’s built of local redwood and Douglas fir. Three dwellings were also erected for the keepers and their families. The lantern was fitted with a third-order Fresnel lens created by Chance Brothers of England. It’s one of only three British-built lenses still in use in the United States. Today Point Cabrillo Light Station is a California State Historic Park. The nonprofit Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association manages and interprets the site.
Sometime before 8 a.m. on the morning of January 5th, Point Cabrillo Lighthouse was hit by at least one massive wave that broke open the back doors and flooded the interior of the lighthouse gift shop and museum. There was significant damage to museum displays, exhibits, and gift shop items. The park and lighthouse are closed as the cleanup continues.
Jen Lewis, the fundraising and outreach manager for the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association, was on the site shortly after the damage was done. U.S. Lighthouse Society Executive Director Jeff Gales also took part in this conversation along with Light Hearted host Jeremy D’Entremont.
A gallery of photos showing the damage of January 5, 2023 (courtesy of the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association):
Some video of the waves at Point Cabrillo on the morning of January 5 (courtesy of Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association):
Listen to the podcast with this player:
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org