After the 1855 Old Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego, California was discontinued in 1891, it was abandoned to the elements and vandals. Its windows were broken out and the lantern was stripped of everything of value. However, the ramshackle lighthouse was still an extremely popular tourist attraction and destination.
In 1913, plans called for the lighthouse to be demolished. However, the lighthouse got a last minute reprieve when Presidential Proclamation #1255, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on October 14, 1913, declared the area as the Cabrillo National Monument to commemorate the discoveries of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.
Finally, by 1935 the National Park Service rebuilt the lantern and restored the structure. During World War II, the lighthouse was painted camouflage green and gun batteries were placed nearby.
In the early 1980s, the lighthouse was again restored, and period furniture was brought in to give the lighthouse the appearance of when the last keeper lived there. In 2003-2004, a replica of the assistant keeper’s house was built. Today, the restored lighthouse is just as popular a tourist destination as it was when it was an abandoned derelict. However, through interpretive displays, visitors can now see how the keeper and his family would have lived at the lighthouse. They can also view the 3rd order Fresnel lens from the New Point Loma Lighthouse and the 4th order Fresnel lens from the no longer standing Ballast Point Lighthouse, which are both on display.
This story appeared in the
Mar/Apr 2019 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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