Point Arguello Light

Point Arguello Light

Infobox Lighthouse

caption =
location = Santa Barbara Channel, California
coordinates = coord|34|34|37|N|120|38|50|W|region:US_type:landmark
yearbuilt = 1901
yearlit = 1967
automated =
yeardeactivated =
foundation =
construction = Post light
shape = Square Pyramidal
height = 20 feet post, 124 feet above sea level
currentlens = Rotating optic
lens = Fourth order Fresnel lens
range = 9 nm
characteristic = white flash every 15 s
admiralty = G3968
USCG = 6-0210

Point Arguello Lighthouse is a lighthouse on Point Arguello in the Santa Barbara Channel, California.


The original Point Arguello lighthouse, built in 1901, had a white square cylindrical tower attached to a one story keeper's house. It had a fourth order Fresnel lens, which was transferred from the Point Hueneme Lighthouse. The tower was replaced in 1934 by a square pyramidal skeletal steel tower, which was in turn replaced by the current post light.

Historical information as of 1968

From Coast Guard web site:The area of land now known as Point Arguello was originally known by the Canalino Indian name "Nocto" and was part of the territory ruled at the time of the arrival of the Mission Fathers by Chief Salipuata. The Indians were part of the third people indigenous to the area, the Canalinos. In prehistoric times, a people of Mongolian stock in all probability had first settled along the Southern California coast in areas where oak trees were plentiful, from which characteristic they had been called "The Oak Tree (Grove) People". They vanished some hundreds of years before the beginning of the Christian era, and after a period yielding no archaeological remains, a second group, also probably Mongolian in origin and semi—nomadic in habits arrived. These "hunting people" gradually merged with a third race, the Canalinos, on the latter’s arrival.

On August 28, 1769, the Portola expedition camped near Point Arguello, where they found a small Indian rancheria. This area had many excellent flints, and so they named it Los Pederales (The Flints). This name continued to be used off the point on Spanish maps until the Mexican revolution. The American and European designation was Point Arguello, from the name assigned by George Vancouver in 1793, in honor of Jose Mario Arguello, then Commandant at Monterey.

The history of Point Arguello since then has been one of shipwrecks, the area having been termed the "Graveyard of the pacific"; probably the most famous tragedy was the wreck of the "Yankee Blade" on the 1st of October 1854. 415 people perished when the steamship hit the rocks 200 to 300 yards offshore. She carried a fortune in gold bullion which has since been recovered.

In recent times what has been called the U.S. Navy’s greatest peacetime disaster occurred off the Point when seven 4—stacker destroyers sank 22 men were lost on the same rocks that smashed the "Yankee Blade" on September 9, 1923. Mariners say that the chief reason that so many boats have struck there is that in bad weather typical of that shoreline, sailing a boat into the channel between San Miguel Island and Points Arguello and Conception is like sailing into the eye of a needle. In 1901, the lighthouse service built a light station at Point Arguello. Between 1934 and 1938, increased in coastwise shipping necessitated the service establish a lifeboat station.

On July 1, 1939, the Lighthouse Service was combined with the Coast Guard to augment the Service by 8,000 men who took their place in forming a nucleus for our present day light stations and aids to navigation work. During the interim of World War II, the Coast Guard manned Point Arguello Light and Point Arguello Lifeboat station, as well as a newly established LORAN Station. After 12 years-operation following the War, it was deemed economical to disestablish the lifeboat station and so in 1958, Point Arguello Lifeboat Station was retired.

Point Arguello light is a key synoptic reporting point for national weather maps. The Loran station broadcasts navigational references to passing ships, and the light station disseminates information upon which fog and cloud conditions for Southern California are based. Facilities at the light include a 36-inch revolving beacon of 1,100,000 candle power that can be seen approximately 17 miles at sea. The light itself is 124 feet above the water. A two-tone diaphone fog signal is placed in operation when visibility is less than five miles. The diaphone when operating is synchronized with a radio beacon every three minutes for distance finding. Point Arguello presently has an allowance of 12 enlisted personnel. Accommodations are available for eight families at the unit. (February 10, 1968)

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