Lighthouse Lecture Series - Stuart McDowell

Lighthouse Lecture Series - Stuart McDowell


Stuart McDowell presents "Bill Owens: The Last Lighthouse Keeper" as part of the Lighthouse Lecture Series on Saturday, June 15 at 5 p.m.

Bill Owens was the last of a generation of light keepers along the California Coast before automation rendered them unnecessary. His career with the United States Lighthouse Service and Coast Guard spanned from 1931-1963 at four light stations from Point Conception, Point Sur, Point Arena, and finally to Point Cabrillo.

In 1982, McDowell and his wife interviewed Bill and Isabel Owens for three days. Stuart, full of questions, found in Owens a willing storyteller as he described his experiences at the lights across four decades: the Great Depression, World War II, plane crashes, and storms.

Owens had a wry wit about him that surfaced frequently, a stubbornness that was more endearing than annoying, and a pride in his thirty-two years of service that was obvious. He expressed them all as he told the McDowells about the operation of the lights, earthquakes, rum runners, Japanese submarines—and the less exciting, but more enduring, job of him and Isabel raising a family of six daughters at the stations, one season of life transitioning to another.

In writing The Last Lighthouse Keeper, McDowell draws from those days of face-to-face interviews with Bill and Isabel—and later with their daughters—to craft a riveting portrait of a man, a family, and an era of lighthouse men never to be seen again.

Joining Stuart for Q & A at the end of the lecture will be Diana Owens Brown, youngest of the Owens daughters that grew up on the Light Station. Admission is $5 per person.

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Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day

10am - 4:30pm

Rest of the year

10am - 3:30pm

Closed Thanksgiving & Christmas Days

Admission Prices:

Site Visit Fee

Members and Children under 12


12 and over


Tower Tour (in addition to site visit fee)

4 and over



877-725-4448, ext. 1 or

707-882-2809, ext. 1



45500 Lighthouse Road

P. O. Box 11

Point Arena, CA 95468