An Historic Beacon
Point Arena Lighthouse Mission
To maintain in perpetuity, the historic Point Arena Light Station – including the 23 coastal acres it encompasses, its 115 ft. Lighthouse Tower and its 1896 Fog Signal Building – for the inspiration, education and the enjoyment of all generations to come.
The Point Arena Lighthouse is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. All donations are tax deductible. EIN: 94-2841636
The Lighthouse History
The first Point Arena Lighthouse was constructed in 1870. Its brick and mortar tower featured ornate iron balcony supports and a large Keepers' residence with enough space to house four Light Keeper families. In April of 1906, a devastating earthquake struck the tower. Damage from the trembler occurred all along the San Andreas Fault, which runs very close to Point Arena. In the town itself, many buildings were reduced to rubble and at the Light Station the Keeper’s residence and Lighthouse were damaged so severely that they were rendered condemned, and ultimately torn down.
The United States Lighthouse Service contracted with a San Francisco based company to build a new Lighthouse that could withstand any future earthquakes. The company built factory smokestacks, which accounts for the final design for the current Point Arena Lighthouse. The new design featured steel reinforcement rods encased in concrete, and was the first lighthouse to be built in this manner.
The new Lighthouse began operation on September 15, 1908, nearly 29 months after the quake. It stands 115 feet tall, and featured a 1st Order Fresnel Lens, seven feet in diameter and weighing 4,700 pounds. The lens is made up of 258 hand-ground glass prisms all focused toward three sets of double bulls eyes. It is these bulls eyes that gave the Point Arena Lighthouse its unique “light signature” of two flashes every six seconds. This incredible optic, that holds an appraised value of over $3.5 million, is set in solid bronze framework and was built in France.
Prior to the introduction of electricity, the lens was rotated by a clockwork mechanism. The Keepers, or “wickies” as they were called, had to hand crank a 160 pound weight up the center shaft of the lighthouse every 75 minutes to keep the lens turning. Light was produced by a “Funks” hydraulic oil lamp that needed to be refueled every four hours, and whose wicks would have to be trimmed regularly. Later, a 1,000 watt electric lamp was installed to replace the oil lamp and a 1/8 horsepower electric motor was installed to turn the gearset that rotated the lens.
June of 1977 brought the installation of an automated aircraft-type beacon on the tower balcony, and use of the historic 1st Order Fresnel Lens was discontinued. The 400 pound aircraft beacon was later replaced by a VRB-25, a 40 pound modern rotating light that incorporates the Fresnel principles for the efficient projection of light. This was replaced in 2015 by an 8 tier VLB-44 LED array. The oil lamp in the original 1870 tower was visible for approximately 18 miles, the original 1st Order Fresnel Lens in the current tower for 21.5 miles, the VRB-25 for 19 miles and the current VLB-44 is visible up to 14 miles. In 1975 the fog signal at the station was silenced and replaced with a radio beacon with a 50 mile signal that originates from the Tower to assist mariners in navigating the Mendocino coast.
In 1984, a nonprofit organization called the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc. acquired the Light Station as part of a 25 year land lease from the Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation. In November of 2000, the nonprofit group became the official owners of the property due to their diligent historic preservation and educational efforts. Daily visitation, Light Station Store sales, memberships, and the rental of the historic Keeper’s homes on the property as vacation houses all provide desperately needed income for ongoing preservation, facility upgrades and educational endeavors.
For more information on lighthouses around the world, contact The United States Lighthouse Society, located at the Point No Point Light Station in Washington. To learn more about the Point Arena Lighthouse, click here!
The Lighthouse featured on ABC10's Bartell's Backroads
On May 26 Travel/Feature Reporter with ABC10 News in Sacramento and host of Bartell’s Backroads John Bartell stopped at the Light Station to film a segment for an episode of Bartell’s Backroads that features the Light Station. Before he left he took some pictures and videos of the skies behind the Lighthouse Tower and over the Manchester hills that he sent into ABC10 News to use for the weather report that night!
Click here to view the Bartell's Backroads segment on the Lighthouse!
Meet the Managers
Light Station Store Manager & Buyer
Guest Relations Manager & Rodent Control Specialist
Guest Relations Manager
Meet the Team
Light Station Store
Museum & Tower Tour Associates
Samantha Martinez Lule
Maintenance & Groundskeeping
Mark "Kos" Moelter
The Point Arena Lighthouse Board
Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc. (PALKI) Scholarships
Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc. (PALKI) Scholarships
The Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc. (PALKI) Board of Directors provides up to $5,000 in scholarships to local graduating Seniors and previous graduates to support post-secondary education. PALKI provides applications and instructions to the local High Schools each year, and they are available from Counselors and in the Library. Previous graduates that did not pursue post-secondary education upon their graduation for various reasons are also eligible to apply for a scholarship award.
Graduating Senior candidates must reside in the general area (Point Arena, Manchester, Gualala, etc.), plan to attend an accredited college, community college, or vocational training program and have an overall grade point average of greater than or equal to 2.0. Applicants are also asked to provide two reference letters that speak to school performance and activities, provide a copy of current transcripts and fully complete the scholarship application which includes a short essay. Scholarships will be awarded as cash payments that can be used for any education related expenses, i.e. tuition, books, lodging, etc. Proof of enrollment will be required prior to receiving scholarship funds. Enrollment must occur within the first two academic years from the date of the scholarship award, i.e. 2023 – 2024 if the award was made in 2023.
Previous graduate candidates must reside in the general area (Point Arena, Manchester, Gualala, etc.) and plan to attend an accredited college, community college, or vocational training program. Applicants are also asked to provide two reference letters that speak to the applicant’s character and desire to pursue higher education at this point in their life, and fully complete the scholarship application which includes a short essay. Scholarships will be awarded as cash payments that can be used for any education related expenses, i.e. tuition, books, lodging, etc. Proof of enrollment will be required prior to receiving scholarship funds. Enrollment must occur within the first two academic years from the date of the scholarship award, i.e. 2023 – 2024 if the award was made in 2023.
Applications will be reviewed by the PALKI Board of Directors and applicants may be invited for an interview. The scholarship(s) will be awarded at the Point Arena High School Senior Awards Night and/or the Pacific Community Charter High School graduation ceremony.
Students and interested parties can contact PALKI Executive Director Mark Hancock at (707) 882-2777 or MarkH.PALight@gmail.com with any questions about the program. The 2024 application packages will be added to this section of the website when they have been prepared.