Pigeon Point Lighthouse Restoration
Status: Active Start Date: 2005
©Paul Zaretsky

Located along California’s San Mateo Coast, the majestic Pigeon Point Light Station has served as a beacon and inspiration for mariners as well as millions of people traveling along California’s coastal highway. 

More than 100 years of severe coastal weather had taken its toll on this 19th century historic landmark, which holds the distinction of being one of the oldest, as well as the tallest, lighthouses on the West Coast.  In December 2001, a piece of Pigeon Point Lighthouse’s upper course iron belt broke, crashing 100 feet to the ground.  An inspection by International Chimney Corporation revealed that the lighthouse’s structure was in worse shape than originally thought.  For safety issues, public tours of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and Oil House have been suspended since that time. 

The California State Parks Foundation is currently working to raise the significant public and private funding needed to complete a restoration project of the entire lighthouse.

©Mark Overgaard

Fortunately, the transfer of Pigeon Point Light Station to California State Parks has made it possible for the agency to restore this important piece of California’s history.  Prior to the transfer of management from the U.S. Coast Guard to the State of California in 2005, California State Parks was leasing the property and unable to perform any major structural repairs.  With a comprehensive plan in place and the full transfer of Pigeon Point Light Station to California State Parks in early fall 2011, the first phase of this historic $10.8 million restoration effort is scheduled to launch in November 2011. 

More than 100,000 people visit Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park each year, including more than 11,000 youth hostel guests and 2,500 school children participating in educational programs. Their visitor experience is enhanced by the park’s vibrant and active volunteer program. These trained volunteer ambassadors provide tours, operate the visitor center and gift shop, and contribute an estimated 3,000 hours each year to educating visitors about the Light Station's unique historical and cultural features. 

Currently, the Lighthouse Tower and Oil/Watch House are off-limits to visitors. However, in an exciting first step, CSPF, in partnership with California State Parks, began the first phase of the historic restoration on the lighthouse in the fall of 2011 with the removal and restoration of the Fresnel Lens. Interim stabilization of the upper tower will be completed in the spring of 2012.

Workers began the restoration in November by taking the first-order Fresnel Lens apart piece by piece (watch video by clicking link below). To remove it from the building, they sent pieces of lens out the window on a zip line. From there the lens was placed in the Fog Signal Building where it was safely cleaned, restored and reassembled for display. While restoration work is being completed on the lighthouse tower visitors can see the lens up close and personal in the Fog Signal Building during visiting hours (see information below). As we work to bring this beacon back to all its splendor and glory, please consider donating so that the Pigeon Point Lighthouse can shine for another 100 years.

You can be a part of restoring this magnificent part of California’s history. Please donate now so that the Pigeon Point Lighthouse can shine for another 100 years.

How You Can Help
You can donate to help the restoration project here.
If you are interested in learning more about the restoration of the Pigeon Point Light Station, please contact Cecille Caterson at (415) 262-4406 or by email at cecille@calparks.org.

When to go, Where to stay:
Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park is open Friday through Monday from 8a.m. until sunset, weather permitting. Volunteer docents, when available on these days, are present from 10a.m. to 4p.m. Call 650-879-2120 for recorded information regarding hours, and upcoming events.

For information on accommodations at the Pigeon Point Hostel go to: http://www.norcalhostels.org/pigeon/ or call 650-879-0633.

To find out more about the cultural and natural history of Pigeon Point Light Station go to:  www.parks.ca.gov.

Watch the lens being removed from the lighthouse:  http://youtu.be/LZxs2jwTeco