Page 66 - SLO Visitors Guide Summer 2024
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66 SUMMER 2024
Cambria, San Simeon, North Coast
Get a glimpse of the past
at Piedras Blancas Light Station
The Piedras Blancas Light Sta-
tion, first illuminated in Febru-
ary 1875, is a historic landmark and
wildlife sanctuary, managed by the
United States Bureau of Land Man-
agement (BLM) and the Piedras
Blancas Light Station Association
(PBLSA). The tower and some of
the buildings are listed on the Na-
tional Register of Historic Places.
In 2017, President Barack
Obama expanded the California
Coastal National Monument to
include Piedras Blancas and more
than 6000 acres along the coast-
line for 1100 miles. The expansion
includes sites in Mendocino, Hum-
Nearly 150-year-old
beacon of history
welcomes visitors
boldt, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo,
and Orange Counties.
A visit
to the Pie-
dras Blan-
cas Light
Station is
a glimpse
into the
past when
were a
vital neces-
sity for safe
navigation. Lighthouses and earlier
beacons of fire built on high places
along the shore to warn sailors of
dangerous waters or to mark entries
to ports have a long history as long
ago as the ancient Egyptians. The
mysterious sound of the boom-
ing foghorn and beacon glowing
through darkness and storms has
taken a mysterious place in the
imaginations of everyone, sailor, or
not. Who hasn’t thought, at least
once, that it might be fun to live in
a lighthouse, even for a weekend?
Even though the Piedras Blan-
cas lighthouse today is only 70 feet
tall today, reduced from its original
100 feet height, a visit still stirs
the imagination of being at sea on
a stormy, starless night, watching
for that beacon. The missing three
levels, which held a fourth-floor
landing, the watch room, and the
original Fresnel lens, were removed
in 1949 after earthquake damage
the year before. The lens is cur-
rently housed in an enclosure on
Main Street in Cambria for public
view. The enclosure has degraded
over time, and the roof has been
damaged by recent storms.
Restoration of the original
floors is underway. Volunteers
have worked more than 100,000
hours restoring the lighthouse and
surrounding buildings. The fuel
oil house has been restored and
a replica of the station’s shingled
watch room has been completed
in addition to
other historic
structures. The
Piedras Blancas
Light Station As-
sociation gift shop
is housed in what
once was a strip
of small offices.
The light sta-
tion is named for
the white rocks
just offshore. The
park occupies
ocean-side land
six miles north
of Hearst Castle
on Highway 1.
Visitors can experience a variety of
sea birds, sea lions, and elephant
seals along with other wildlife
that lives in the area. Over 70 na-
tive California plant species have
been identified with interpretive
signs. For many years the area was
overgrown with Carpobrotus, the
invasive ice plant still growing
in other locations in California.
Volunteers worked long and hard
pulling out this invasive plant and,
miraculously, the native vegetation
began to return on its own.
The Piedras Blancas Light Station
is located at 15950 Cabrillo Highway
(HWY1), in San Simeon, CA. Tours
are by reservation only and start at
9:45 a.m. on the designated days.
For seasonal tour schedules, tickets,
and more information visit piedras- or call (877) 444-6777.
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