Giclee print on fine art paper
Signed open Edition print
In the spring of 1854, lighthouse construction began in earnest at Point Loma. Builders used locally quarried sandstone and brick shipped in from Monterey. Various setbacks delayed completion until November of the following year. When an enormous first order Fresnel lens arrived at the station for installation, officials were disappointed to discover it was too big for the lantern room. With construction costs already over budget, rebuilding the lighthouse was simply not an option. Reluctantly they added a less powerful third order lens.
Rising 462 feet above sea level, the new light provided the highest focal plane of any station in the United States. On a clear night, mariners could easily spot the signal from twenty five miles out to sea.
Unfortunately, Point Loma’s tremendous elevation was actually its greatest liability. Clouds lying lower than the height of the lighthouse often obscured the beacon from view. On stormy nights when the light was most needed by ships, it was sometimes impossible to find.
After serving as a coastal, as well as harbor light, for only thirty six years, the lantern was extinguished in 1891. A replacement tower was erected at the tip of Point Loma, just eighteen feet above sea level. After lying idle for a number of years, Old Point Loma Light was almost demolished in 1913 to make room for a statue of Juan Cabrillo, the Spanish explorer. The statue was never erected, though, and in 1933 President Roosevelt signed the historic lighthouse over to the National Park Service.