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Point Sur, Lightstation on top

The Point Sur Lightstation State Historic Park is located on the Big Sur coastline of Monterey County, 19 miles south of Rio Road in Carmel. It is both a California state park and on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]



Point Sur was a notorious hazard to navigation, and the site of many shipwrecks. After the sinking of the USS Ventura in 1875, it was determined that a lightstation was needed in this remote area.[2]

Point Sur Lightstation opened on August 1, 1889. This very remote station was required to be self-sufficient, as most supplies had to be brought in by ship. Lighthouse employees and their families had their own vegetable gardens. Children stayed with local ranchers during the week in order to attend school, returning home on weekends, or stayed with distant relatives. In 1927, a schoolteacher was assigned to Point Sur Lightstation to teach the six children who resided there.Easy access to the lightstation came in 1937, when Highway One through Big Sur was completed. In the 1940s, children from Point Sur Lightstation were assimilated into Big Sur's larger school.[3]

The Lighthouse Service was absorbed into the Coast Guard in 1939, and Point Sur Lightstation became the property of the Coast Guard. Point Sur Lightstation was automated in the late 1960s, and in 1974 ceased to have a light keeper.

The coast off Point Sur Lightstation was the location of the sinking of the airship USS Macon.


It has California's only complete turn-of-the-century lighthouse open to the public. (The nearby Point Piños Light is also open to the public, but is significantly older.) Walking tours are held year-round on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, and also on Thursdays during July and August. Tours are first-come, first-served; visitors are advised to arrive a half hour before the tour.

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