Point Arguello Lighthouse

Point Arguello Lighthouse

Point Arguello Lighthouse

To be honest about it, there’s not much that’s exciting about the Point Arguello lighthouse itself.

Point Arguello map

It was constructed in 1901 as an aid to navigation for this very dangerous section of coastline and only lasted until 1934 when it was demolished and replaced by a non-romantic skeletal steel tower.

Early photos of the Point Arguello lights

That tower was replaced in 1967 by an even less-romantic beacon on a single steel post.

You can’t visit the Point Arguello lighthouse since it is located on the Vandenberg Air Force Base, and even if you could, there’s not much to see in the way of historic buildings. The only way to get a glimpse is if you are traveling on Amtrak. You will need to be ready and have a good telephoto lens as the site is about a half mile from the tracks.

It might be more interesting to look out the other side of the train and view the rocket launch facilities at Vandenberg. Satellites are launched from here and missile testing is done as well.

Point Arguello Light Quick Facts:

Year built: 1901
GPS coordinates: 34.5771 / -120.6472
Height: 100 ft.
Light signature: Flashing – white – 15sec
Range: 17 miles
Open to the public?: No – on a military base

Current view of Point Arguello from the train

What is interesting and sad about Point Arguello is the history of shipwrecks that have occurred in the area. It has also acquired the dubious distinction as the “graveyard of the Pacific” on account of the more than 50 wrecks that have happened here.

In 1854 during the gold rush, the “Yankee Blade”, a steamship heading from San Francisco to the Isthmus of Panama, ran aground on rocks just offshore. Loaded with passengers and their gold, the loss of life reported online varies from 15 to 415. The gold has long since been recovered by divers.

The construction of the lighthouse in 1901 didn’t eliminate disasters. The worst naval peacetime incident occurred in 1923 with the loss of 7 new destroyers and 23 lives in darkness and heavy fog.

Seven destroyers run aground on 8 Sep 1923

That incident had been preceded earlier in the by the loss of the mailship SS Cuba nearby in the fog.

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