Sunday, July 08, 2007

Point Arena Lighthouse

Drew Smith of Tampa, Florida, correctly identified the photographs in Is this Your Street? as the Point Arena Lighthouse in California. (There's no prize associated with this, Drew, but our heartiest congratulations on a job well done!).

The GeneaBlogie research staff spent the Fourth of July holiday at Point Arena. The lighthouse, which at 115 feet is the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast, is located about two miles outside the city of Point Arena (pop. 450) in Mendocino County, California. The homes which once housed the lighthouse keepers and their families are now vacation rentals. And this is a great deal. Vacation rentals with ocean view in Mendocino County can run $700 a day and more. The lighthouse vacation rentals (3 bedrooms, two baths) are less than half of that--and when shared with another couple or two other couples, this can be affordable!

The point itself is surrounded by water on three sides. The land adjacent to the property is a former grazing area now known as the Stornetta Public Lands. The small islands off the coast are part of the California Coastal national Monument. The lighthouse and the Stornetta lands appear in the 1992 Mel Gibson movie, Forever Young. A gazebo used in the movie remains inside the Lighthouse property fence line.

The lighthouse property is now owned by the Point Arena LighthouseKeepers Association. Although the Coast Guard still uses the Lighthouse as an aid to navigation, it is completely automated and there is no need of lighthousekeepers.

The lighthouse was originally constructed in 1870, but was severely damaged in the 1906 earthquake. (The property is adjacent to the San Andreas fault). It was rebuilt and re-opened in 1908.

The city of Point Arena is a quirky town of less than 500 persons. A Fourth of July parade every year takes places on the city's main street, which is also California's famed Highway 1. Travelers become involuntary "floats" in the parade, most taking it with good humor. A community picnic and street fair precede a fireworks display over the harbor, creating a Rockwell-esque Independence Day celebration. It's a lot of fun!

Few places can beat the natural beauty of the Mendocino coast. We saw ospreys, sea lions, deer, hawks, vultures and songbirds of various species. Some in our party, though not I, spotted whales migrating. And then there were spectacular sun events.

Photo credit: M.P. Manson. Copyright (c) 2007, MansonMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

Miriam said...

Hi, Craig! What fun! About three years ago, my husband and I rented a lookout tower in the mountains of Idaho for three or four was spectacular! My next wish is to stay in a lighthouse; as you can imagine, we have many on our Washington coast as well. What an enjoyable vacation you must have had!