Archive for the ‘Light Station’ Category

Piedras Blancas Light Station and WWII

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

World War II must have had a profound effect on Piedras Blancas Light Station. Not only was it a Coast Guard facility but its geographic location on an isolated point on the central coast of California made it especially vulnerable to enemy attack. However, little information about the war time effort at the Station has been uncovered. (more…)

WW II Rationing at Piedras Blancas Light Station by Beverly Praver

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

World War II brought rationing to the American public including members of the U.S. Coast Guard serving at Piedras Blancas and all other light stations. Ration books were obtained from the local O.P.A. Board [Office of Price Administration] by one person who collected them for all the personnel at one time. An entry in the Piedras Blancas Log dated Tuesday March 2, 1943, stated “To O.P.A. Board about food rationing for C.G. personnel” indicating that someone had to physically go to the O.P.A. office to obtain the ration books. (more…)

Lighthouse Keepers

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Initially, Piedras Blancas Light Station employed a head keeper (also called a principal keeper or simply a keeper) as well as a first and second assistant. Following the installation of the fog signal in 1906, a third assistant joined the complement. (more…)

Rancho Piedra Blanca

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

On January 18, 1840, the Mexican governor of Alta California, Juan B. Alvarado, granted about 49,000 acres of the Rancho Piedra Blanca to Don Jose de Jesus Pico. The Rancho Piedra Blanca was described in the original grant to Pico as “…bounded by the arroya named ‘del Pinalito’ by that known by the name of ‘San Carpogaro’ by the sea and by the big mountain…” The arroyo del “Pinal” or “Padre Juan” lies about a mile south of the south fork of Pico Creek. The alcalde, Jose Mariano Bonilla, caused juridical measurement of the tract to be made on September 25, 1842. (more…)


Friday, December 10th, 2010

Captain Lorin Vincent Thorndyke was the head keeper at Piedras Blancas Light Station for twenty-seven years from August 19, 1879 until August 22, 1906. Though not the first head keeper, he certainly had the longest tenure in that position.  “The Captain”, as everyone called him, was born in West Camden, Maine on January 28, 1839. Before coming to Piedras Blancas, he was in the Merchant Marine for many years and claimed to have been around the world five times. He also served at several lighthouses along the California coast including Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Yerba Buena in San Francisco Bay, and, lastly, Point Hueneme, prior to being assigned to Point Piedras Blancas at the age of forty. (more…)

Thomas Evans

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Tom Evans was the son of William J. Evans  and was born in Aberystwyth in Cardiganshire, Wales (United Kingdom) in 1832. He had come to America with his family ten years later and lived in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (more…)

Point Piedras Blancas

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Point Piedras Blancas was put together by Carole Adams and John Bogacki. Carole Adams is a volunteer who has spearheaded the native plant restoration project at the light station and has coordinated the volunteer effort since 2001. When the Bureau of Land Management acquired the site in that year, John Bogacki became the first Site Manager and it was John who created the management plan for restoring Piedras Blancas Light Station to its former glory. Both Carole and John have been major contributors to the ongoing effort to develop a complete and accurate history of the lighthouse, its associated buildings and the surrounding landscape. (more…)

Piedras Blancas Lens

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

The first order Fresnel lens for the Piedras Blancas Light Station was manufactured by Henri-Lapaute of Paris, France and was first shown on February 15, 1875. Augustine Fresnel was a French physicist who finally figured out how to produce a very bright light source for lighthouses in 1822 and he designed six sizes of lenses. His sixth order lenses were the smallest and have been used for such things as marking the entrances to harbors. First order lenses, the largest, were used in coastal lighthouses where visibility at the maximum range was required. More information about Fresnel lenses can be found here. (more…)

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Monday, November 9th, 2009

About twelve miles up Highway One from Cambria, Piedras Blancas Light Station has a very interesting history. The land on which it is built once belonged to indigenous peoples. When the Spanish occupied the area, the property became part of the lands of the Mission San Miguel. Then, when the missions were secularized by the Mexican government, it became part of Rancho Piedra Blanca, a Mexican Land Grant given to Don Jose de Jesus Pico in 1840. After the Mexican-American war was settled by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, a portion of the Rancho was reserved for a light station by President Andrew Johnson on June 8, 1866. In the meantime, possession of Point Piedras Blancas had reverted to Don Juan Castro who vigorously protested the building of a light station on his property. He is quoted as saying in 1874, “I am advised by my counsel that upon the facts of this case the United States have no property rights whatever in the land upon which you are now engaged in erecting a light house; that we are the legal owners of the land and can eject any person interfering with our possession from the premises.” (more…)