Mile Rocks Light

Mile Rocks Light

Coordinates: 37°47′33.54″N 122°30′36.83″W / 37.79265°N 122.5102306°W / 37.79265; -122.5102306

Mile Rocks Light
U.S. Coast Guard Archive
Location near Golden Gate Bridge, California
Year first constructed 1906
Year first lit 1906
Automated 1966
Foundation Steel and Concrete
Construction Steel
Tower shape Cylindrical
Original lens Third order Fresnel lens (removed)
Characteristic white flash every 5 s

Mile Rocks Lighthouse is a lighthouse on a rock about 2 miles (3.2 km) southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge, California. It's now an automated and unnatural looking lighthouse with a flat top and red(barberpole-like) painted rings which tends to stand out very obviously between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Cliff House to the south. To one side is a smaller, though clearly visible rock.


In 1889, the United States Lighthouse Service placed a bell buoy near the rocks. However, the strong currents in the area would pull the buoy beneath the surface of the water and set it adrift. The lighthouse was completed in 1906 after considerable difficulty caused by the heavy seas and strong currents occurring at this point. The rock upon which the lighthouse is built measured only 40 by 30 feet (9.1 m) at high water. The base of the tower is a large block of concrete protected by steel plating. Steel and concrete in the foundation alone weighed 1,500 tons. The superstructure is of steel, and houses the fog signal apparatus and the quarters for the keepers, with the lantern above.

It was on this rock that the SS City of Rio de Janeiro was wrecked shortly before the building of the lighthouse. One hundred and twenty-eight persons, of 209 aboard, lost their lives when the City of Rio de Janeiro sank on February 2, 1901. The wreck has never been found.

The original third order Fresnel lens was transferred to Old Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego. In 1966, all of the tower was removed and only the first story was left, and the light automated. The top of the first story is now a landing pad.

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