Point Bonita ScStr - History

Point Bonita ScStr - History

Point Bonita

(ScStr: dp. 5,320 (n.); 1. 300'; b. 44'1"; dr. 19'; s. 12 k; cpl. 96)

Point Bonita (No. 3496) was launched under USSB contract by the Albina Engine ~ Machine Works, Portland, Ore. 27 March 1918, transferred to the Navy 7 October 1918, and commissioned the same day at Brooklyn, N.Y., Lt. Comdr. P. J. Hansen, USNRF, in command.

Assigned to NOTS, Point Bonita loaded military Eupplies and high explosives and sailed in convoy for France 19 October, arriving Nantes 7 November. After discharging her cargo, she proceeded to Brest 15 November, joined a west bolmd convoy on the 18th, and arrived at New York 16 December. She departed New York with cargo for USSB steamed to Norfolk, loaded eoal for Navy use, and got underway for Hawaii 8 January arriving Pearl Harbor 7 February 1919.

Returning to New York in March Point Bonita decommissioned there 7 April 1919 and was transferred to USSB. The following year she was sold toPacific S.S. Co.


Vignette > Point Bonita Lighthouse

In 1835, the Mexican government ceded Rancho Sausalito, about 20,000 acres in southern Marin, to William Richardson. By 1900, considerable development had occurred: in the north, two towns, Sausalito and Mill Valley in the south, Fort Baker, Fort Barry and Fort Cronkhite in between, several dairy ranches. Of major significance was the Point Bonita Lighthouse on the southwest corner. It had been in operation since 1856 along with other lighthouses serving San Francisco Bay ship traffic at Fort Point, Alcatraz and South Farallon. The illumination of lighthouses had evolved over time. Initially there were candles then lamps burning whale oil, lard oil, vegetable oil and, by the 1870s, kerosene. By 1900, electricity had replaced kerosene lamps, but coal fired boilers still generated steam for the sirens, whistles and foghorns. The original Point Bonita Lighthouse, a 56-foot brick tower, was too high. The West Coast has dense high fog, which leaves lower elevations clear. In 1877, the lighthouse was moved to its current lower location. Point Bonita was the last manned lighthouse on the California coast. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. The United States Coast Guard currently maintains the light and fog signal.


Hike of the Week: Soak in Point Bonita history – or just the beauty

When the military occupied Point Bonita at the Marin Headlands, the goal was to hide fortifications. Today, bunkers stand half buried, vents protrude from hillsides and you never know what might be around the next bend. Exploring the old fortifications is both interesting and fun.

A mildly strenuous, four-mile round-trip to Point Bonita can be a history lesson – or not. The bunkers and gun emplacements can be a great place to play Hide and Seek or enjoy a picnic. They offer excellent views of the coast and good bird watching opportunities. Panels at each bunker provide information about its history.

The hike begins at the Rodeo Beach parking area. Walk south along the beach and hike up the narrow path to the top of the bluff. Two gun emplacements, Batteries O’Rorke and Smith-Guthrie are hidden behind earthworks that look like hills. Watch for clues such as pipes or air vents poking out of a mound, they indicate the location of buried structures. Follow the dirt road around to their east side.

From the trail, you have an excellent view of the Nike missile launch site. The missiles were stored underground and came up through the yellow doors.

Up the road in the cluster of pine trees is the massive Battery Wallace. This battery held huge, long-range guns. The crew quarters were located below the bunker extending down three or four levels underground and protected with thick concrete and 30 feet of earth.

Continue on the road past Battery Mandell to the turn-around for sweeping views of the coastline. Bird Island is often covered with cormorants and gulls. If you have binoculars, you might see nests and young birds.

Battery Mandell was built at this location because of the unobstructed view of the sea and enemy ships. Today, the ships on the horizon are friendly and they vary in type from huge cargo ships to fishing vessels and sailboats.

If you have time, visit the Point Bonita Lighthouse. It’s open Saturdays and Sundays between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Access to it requires a steep half-mile hike.

To return to Rodeo Beach either retrace your steps to the beach or walk along Field Road to the Visitor Center and continue around the lagoon by walking on the trail that begins near the restrooms in the Visitor Center parking lot.

To reach Rodeo Lagoon at the Marin Headlands, (heading south) leave Highway 101 at the last Sausalito exit before the Golden Gate Bridge. Turn left at the stop sign and then right onto Conzelman Road. Turn right on McCullough Road and left on Bunker Road.


Hike of the week: Point Bonita Bunkers provide views and history

Point Bonita at the Marin Headlands has plenty of fun opportunities for families that enjoy adventure. There’s a lighthouse and a Nike missile site in addition to half-hidden military bunkers and Rodeo Beach.

A moderately strenuous, five-mile round-trip hike from the Rodeo Beach to Point Bonita includes walking the length of the beach and hiking up the bluff with promontories that provide sweeping scenic views.

The hike begins at the Rodeo Beach parking area. Walk south along the beach and hike up the narrow path to the top of the bluff. Two gun emplacements &mdash Batteries O’Rorke and Smith-Guthrie &mdash are hidden behind earthworks that look like hills. Follow the dirt road around to their east side.

From the trail, you have an excellent view of the Nike missile launch site. The missiles were stored underground and came up through the yellow doors to the launch pad. Walk through Battery Alexander to Field Road and follow the street to the entrance of the Nike site. The site is open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday afternoons and the first Saturday of the month for tours and demonstrations.

Up the road in the cluster of pine trees is the massive Battery Wallace. This battery held huge, long-range guns. There is a picnic area with tables on the hill near the gun emplacement.

Continue on the road to Battery Mandell and enjoy exploring the huge cement gun emplacement with all of its nooks and crannies and panoramic views of the coastline. Battery Mandell was built at this location because of the unobstructed view of the sea and the entrance into San Francisco Bay. Bird Island is often covered with cormorants and gulls. Brown pelicans frequently fly in formation as they skim just above the waves or relax in Rodeo Lagoon.

Walk down the road to visit the Point Bonita Lighthouse. It’s open on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Access to the lighthouse requires a steep half-mile hike, passage through a hand-carved tunnel and crossing of a suspension bridge built to resemble the Golden Gate Bridge.

To return to Rodeo Beach either retrace your steps to the beach or walk along Field Road to the visitor center and continue around the lagoon by walking on the trail that begins near the restrooms in the visitor center parking lot.

To reach Rodeo Lagoon parking lot at the Marin Headlands, (heading south) leave Highway 101 at the last Sausalito exit before the Golden Gate Bridge. Turn left at the stop sign and then right onto Conzelman Road. Turn right on McCullough Road and left on Bunker Road.


Marine Wildlife and Ecology - Sail under the Golden Gate Bridge

Set sail aboard the Schooner Freda B for an ecology-themed tour of the Marin Headlands!

This signature sail, boarding in Sausalito, will take you under the Golden Gate Bridge and all the way out to Point Bonita Lighthouse. This is a prime area for wildlife and we'll have a naturalist on-board to guide you through the whole experience!

You'll learn about the diverse ecosystems of the San Francisco Bay, with frequent wildlife sightings, and then return in time for brunch at one of Sausalito's many delicious restaurants.

Schooner Freda B is a sea kind 80' gaff rigged coastal schooner, making her one of the San Francisco Bay's most comfortable and traditional vessels to sail. Experience the romance of yesteryear and with a local, licensed Captain and Crew.

On Deck Bar and Provisions:

Deck Bar is open- accepting cash and credit cards. No outside food or beverage is permitted to board the boat.

Premium Non-Alcoholic: $5 per bottle/can/mug

California Beer: $7 per bottle

House Bubbles and Mimosas: $10 per glass

Napa / Sonoma / Import Wine: $14 per glass

Adult Coffee or Hot Chocolate: $12 per mug

Salt Point Cocktails: $12 per can

Our Captain and crew encourage guests to support Sausalito's Restaurants before boarding or upon return.

Please plan on arriving early to find parking and the boat.

We recommend parking in one of the municipal lots surrounding Sausalito Yacht Harbor. Parking costs between $2 and $4 per hour, and Parking Lot #3 (Google Maps) will be the most convenient.

Walk to 100 Bay Street in Sausalito and then continue walking north towards The Spinnaker Restaurant . You'll soon come across a wood boardwalk on your left that will lead you to our dock (look for the two red masts). The Schooner Freda B is located at Sausalito Yacht Harbor, Slip 465, Sausalito, CA 94965 (searchable as "Schooner Freda B" on Google Maps). If you are lost, see your ticket confirmation for the "boat phone" number to call.

Sailing on the San Francisco Bay offers ever-changing views and exciting microclimates. Weather can change in a minute. Windbreaker , warm base layer, gloves, hat, scarf, sunglasses , and comfortable shoes are strongly encouraged. NO HIGH HEELS.

We can no longer offer blankets on-board, but you're welcome to bring your own!

Freda B offers a public restroom on board. Restroom is available one at a time. We do recommend using shore facilities as a priority prior to sailing. Restroom is disinfected by crew after each use.

Advanced reservation is required for all passengers, including babes in arms. Passengers 17 and under must be accompanied and supervised at all times by an adult. All tickets must be purchased in advance, and full contact information is required for all passengers. Tickets are transferable up to 48 hours prior to sail. A new name and contact information associated with the ticket is required in order to create an accurate roster for the Coast Guard and contact tracing.

Give the gift of sailing, a perfect present for all the sailors in your life. Gift certificates are always available for purchase and guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face!

Private groups of 6 or more are encouraged to consider a private charter on San Francisco Bay.

CIMBA - 32' Grand Banks , downtown Sausalito, 2-10 guests

FREDA B - 80' Schooner , downtown Sausalito, 2-49 guests

For your safety and ours, Schooner Freda B requires all guests arrive wearing masks (covering both mouth and nose) and keep masks on while boarding, underway (unless eating/drinking), and disembarking. Captain and Crew are also required to wear masks .

Guests must board and disembark 1 guest at a time, 6' apart. Forehead temperature check and hand sanitizer are required for all guests boarding the vessel. If a guest has an elevated body temperature they will be asked to reschedule, or will be offered a refund.

Sailing on the San Francisco Bay is weather dependent. We sail in most weather, including cold, wind, fog, and light showers. On occasion, we will need to reschedule a sail due to extreme wind or rain. If this is necessary, you will usually be notified within 24-48 hours of the scheduled sail.

If the Captain must cancel due to weather, our sales team will work with you to reschedule or refund your order. The Captain and Crew monitor the most sophisticated weather channels to make every effort to bring you information in the timeliest manner. We apologize in advance if the weather complicates any special occasion plans.


Point Bonita ScStr - History

The museum opened in 1989 to honor the famous home-town boy Rex Elvie Allen, a true cowboy who became the last of the singing cowboys of Western movie fame. You&rsquoll see memorabilia from his lifetime success in rodeo, radio, movies and television. Hours of Operation are
Across the street from the museum is a larger-than-life bronze statue of Rex, created by sculptor Buck McCain. Inside the statue is a molded bronze heart with arteries, symbolizing that Rex&rsquos heart will always be in Willcox. Rex&rsquos horse, KoKo, is buried at the foot of the statue.

The museum is open 10 AM - 1 PM on Monday and 11 AM - 3 PM Tuesday through Saturday or by appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.rexallenmuseum.org/ or call (520) 384-4583.

Amerind Museum:

Located in Texas Canyon near Cochise Stronghold is the Amerind Museum. William Shirley Fulton established this unique museum and art gallery in 1937 as a private, nonprofit anthropological and archaeological research center for Native American cultures. Allow 2-3 hours for your visit. Picnic facilities are available. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays Closed Mondays and major holidays. For more information, please visit http://www.amerind.org/ or call (520) 586-3666 ---2100 N. Amerind Road, Dragoon AZ 85609

Chiricahua Regional Museum and Research Center:

Visit the museum honoring the people who created the rich heritage of the area. The museum features the history and culture of the Chiricahua Apaches from Cochise to Geronimo to their time as prisoners of war. Also featured are a variety of exhibits including Willcox town history, military, cattle ranching, and rocks and minerals.

The research center is located in the historic Toggery store at 128 E. Maley, Willcox, AZ 85643. It contains books, photos, maps, newspapers, family histories, and land and legal records for Willcox and the surrounding towns. Exhibits include the Judge Monk Family exhibit, Cowbelles displays, The Mascot, Johnson Camp, Commonwealth mines, and the Arizona Rangers.

Museum hours are 10 AM - 4 PM Monday through Saturday. The Research Center is open Wednesdays and Thursdays and also by appointment. For more information, please visit the museum's website or call (520) 384-3971.

Once the Southern Pacific Railroad grew to Willcox in 1880, the town experienced massive growth. As ranchers flocked to Southeastern Arizona so did the outlaws, and the mountains surrounding the valley served as a criminal hideout for many years. Learn about notorious outlaws as they traveled through Southern Arizona and left their mark on our history-rich town.

In addition to Rex Allen, many other famous entertainers once called Willcox their home. The biographies of several singers, artists, and film stars detail their journeys from Willcox to national spotlight.

Chiricahua National Monument:

Chiricahua National Monument is open year-round and does not charge an entrance fee.

The visitor center is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Mountain Standard Time. Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Check the current Arizona time.
The free Hiker Shuttle leaves the visitor center each morning at 9:00 am and stops at the campground at 9:05 am. Signing up at the Visitor Center is required either the day before or the morning of the shuttle. The shuttle drops hikers at either the Echo Canyon or Massai Point trailheads. Hikers then follow the trails back to the Visitor Center or the Bonita Canyon Campground. For more information please visit https://www.nps.gov/chir/planyourvisit/index.htm

Fort Bowie:

Fort Bowie witnessed almost 25 years of conflict between the Chiricahua Apache and the US Army, and remains a tangible connection to the turbulent era of the late 1800s. Explore the history of Fort Bowie and Apache Pass as you hike the 1.5 mile trail to the visitor center and old fort ruins. Today, this peaceful landscape stands in stark contrast to the violence that once gripped this land.

Historic Schwertner House:

Originally built in 1880 as an Army Officer reception center, this historic home frequently hosted soldiers on their travels between Fort Grant and Fort Bowie. Josef Schwertner and his family purchased it in 1897 and made it into their family home. The Schwertners also ran a saloon-turned-grocery store that is now the Rex Allen Museum. Though Josef passed in 1929, his family continued to live in the home until the 1980's.

This Stick-Style Victorian home was built of redwood with wooden shingles and shutters. After reaching a dilapidated condition, the house was restored by local volunteers and donors. It is currently owned by the Sulphur Spring Valley Historical Society.

Old Pioneer Cemetary:

A gem for Western history buffs, this site contains graves from the late 19th and early 20th century, including the famous cowboy Warren Earp. This historic site is located just outside of historic downtown at 454 N 3rd Ave.


Share

click Icon to show on map

ADA Accessible

Visitor Center

Store

Transportation

Campground

Hikes

Views

Wildflowers

Birding

Tips and Highlights

  • Ride the Marin Headlands Shuttle: This free shuttle operates each weekend through September. The shuttle picks up every thirty minutes from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. along Bunker Road, Field Road and Fort Baker. Stops include: Bay Area Discovery Museum, Smith Road trail head, Marine Mammal Center, Rodeo Beach, Visitor Center, Nike Missile Site, Battery Alexander and Point Bonita Lighthouse.
  • Begin your explorations at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center, open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • The SF-88 Nike Missile Site is open the first Saturday of every month from 12:30–3:30 pm featuring an open house, with docents and Nike veterans sharing their stories (check online calendar). For more information, visit the NPS site.
  • Battery Townsley, considered the zenith of military technology in the 1940s, is open the first Sunday of every month from 12–4:00 pm. For more information, visit the NPS site.
  • Point Bonita Lighthouse is open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 12:30-3:30 pm.
  • Accessible restroom facilities are available at the Fort Cronkhite parking lot by Rodeo Beach, and also at the visitor center.
  • Bring your own snacks there are no food vendors in the Headlands.
  • Picnic at Battery Wallace, near the Point Bonita trailhead. This is one of the parks’ most scenic picnic spots, complete with tables and grills (no water on site).
  • Take a drive along Conzelman Road from the northern foot of the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Bonita. This five-mile road offers breathtaking views of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Don’t plan on swimming (the ocean water is cold and dangerous).
  • Survey the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge from Kirby Cove.
  • Visit park-partner organizations located in the Headlands, such as the Marine Mammal Center and the Headlands Center for the Arts.
  • In the fall, watch Golden Gate Raptor Observatory volunteers monitor the autumn migration of birds of prey. Each year, more than 20,000 raptors fly over the Headlands.

Marin Headlands Visitor Center

Nature

The sea cliffs and road cuts of the Headlands have exposed some of the finest examples of pillow basalt and radiolarian chert.

Millions of years ago, these rocks formed at the bottom of the sea, several thousand miles from the coast. The black pillow basalt was created from lava spewing from vents, while the red-brown radiolarian chert formed as the remains of radiolarians (microscopic protozoans) collected in layers.

As the seafloor moves slowly east, it slides under the North American continent and leaves behind scrapings of radiolarian chert and pillow basalt.

Our Work

The Parks Conservancy has supported numerous projects in the Marin Headlands over its 40-year history. Critical habitat for endangered Mission blue butterflies and threatened California red-legged frogs have been restored. Invasive plants have been removed, and rare species protected. Historic forts, batteries, and other cultural treasures have been preserved. And trails, wayfinding signage, overlooks, and other visitor amenities have also been created or improved.

But our work is not done. Ongoing efforts, especially at Hawk Hill, will continue to protect sensitive habitats and rare species while creating an improved trails and visitor access.

Learn more about what the Parks Conservancy is doing in the Marin Headlands.


RON HENGGELER

Sunrise from my window on Summer Solstice, June 21, 2013

Sunrise from my window on Summer Solstice, June 21, 2013

The view the Golden Gate and distant San Francisco from Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands.

The view the Golden Gate and distant San Francisco from Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands.

The Point Bonita Lighthouse viewed from on the Conzelman Road in the Marin Headlands.
Point Bonita is still an active lighthouse. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the lighthouse and the National Park Service provides access to visitors.

The Gate, and the distant Golden Gate Bridge viewed from Point Bonita

Fort Point, the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco, as seen with a 300mm lens from Point Bonita

The ruins of a World War 2 bunker high atop a coastal cliff overlooking Bird Rock and Point Bonita.
The Marin Headlands is the site of a number of historic military settlements fortifications, including Fort Cronkite, Fort Barry, a large number of bunkers and batteries, and the SF-88 Nike Missile silo. From the 1890s, the first military installations were built to prevent hostile ships from entering San Francisco Bay.

Inside the ruins of a World War 2 bunker, high atop a coastal cliff overlooking Bird Rock and Point Bonita.
The batteries at Kirby Cove, above Black Sands Beach, south of Rodeo Beach, and at Battery Mendell are examples of fortifications from the pre-World War I period.

Inside the ruins of a World War 2 bunker, high atop a coastal cliff overlooking Bird Rock and Point Bonita.
During World War II Batteries Wallace, Townsley, and 129 on Hawk Hill were built into the hills to protect them from aerial bombardment and the high caliber shells that would be fired by Axis battleships.

Inside the ruins of a World War 2 bunker.
Many empty gun emplacements are accessible to the public and provide spectacular views of the rugged shoreline.

The ruins of a World War 2 bunker, high atop a coastal cliff at Point Bonita, in the Marin Headlands

Inside the ruins of the World War 2 bunker (pictured above), high atop a coastal cliff at Point Bonita, in the Marin Headlands.

A World War 2 lookout post high atop a coastal cliff at Point Bonita, in the Marin Headlands.
These observation posts known as base end stations can be found throughout the Marin Headlands.

The ruins of a World War 2 battery, overlooking Rodeo Lagoon and Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands
A well-preserved example can be seen near the northern end of Rodeo Beach, and others are located near the Point Bonita Lighthouse and on Wolf Ridge as it slopes down to the sea. Taking their place in a long line of coastal fortifications built to defend the Golden Gate, both Townsley and Construction 129 were designed to house the latest in heavy-duty marine artillery: a pair of massive guns with 16-inch barrels. The guns and their magazines, power rooms and crew (the weapons were the size of a truck and required many hands to operate) were kept safe and out of sight in the bunkers.

The ruins of a World War 2 battery, overlooking Rodeo Lagoon and Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands
The story behind the batteries, which tells of a fascinating time in U.S. history when the country was convinced a West Coast attack was coming by sea.

Detail of a rusted steel door of a World War 2 gun battery in the Marin Headlands

Rodeo Beach seen from the ruins of a World War 2 battery situated high atop a coastal ridge in the Marin Headlands

The ruins of a World War 2 battery situated high atop a coastal ridge in the Marin Headlands.
On July 1, 1940, the first 16-inch round ever fired from the Pacific Coast of the continental U.S. went off at Battery Townsley. The 2,100-pound projectile was expected to sail five miles beyond the Farallones, but it went even further &mdash more than 30 miles from the coast. The whole mountain shook with the gun&rsquos force. Battery Townsley and its counterpart, Battery Davis, built around the same time on the south side of the Golden Gate at Fort Funston, became prototypes for the army&rsquos planned new coastal defense system.

Detail of a rusted steel door of a World War 2 gun battery in the Marin Headlands

The ruins of a World War 2 battery situated high atop a coastal ridge in the Marin Headlands

The ruins of a World War 2 battery situated high atop a coastal ridge in the Marin Headlands

World War 2 battery in the Marin Headlands

World War 2 battery in the Marin Headlands

For over 150 years, Point Bonita Lighthouse has aided ships navigating the treacherous waters of the Golden Gate.
It&rsquos welcome beacon continues to greet both mariners and lighthouse visitors alike. Point Bonita Lighthouse is a lighthouse located at Point Bonita at the San Francisco Bay entrance in the Marin Headlands near Sausalito, California. Point Bonita was the last manned lighthouse on the California coast.

The Point Bonita Lighthouse is reached by a half-mile trail that is steep in parts.
(left center is the tunnel entrance that passes through the rock to the other side)

The tunnel halfway to the lighthouse is open only during visiting hours: Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In the early 1850's, when lighthouse construction began, there was still no marker at Point Bonita. In 1853 the steamship Tennessee ran aground just north of Point Bonita (at what is now Tennessee Cove). The clipper ship San Francisco struck the rocks of Point Bonita and sank in 1854.

Point Bonita Lighthouse, the third lighthouse on the West Coast, was completed in 1855. Built upon a high ridge 300 feet above the water, there were soon complaints that thick fog frequently obscured the light beam. A new site at a lower elevation was chosen near- by at the tip of Point Bonita.
Unstable rock made construction of a hand-hewn tunnel and trail to the site challenging.

The spectacular Golden Gate, entrance to San Francisco Bay, seen from the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Point Bonita is located at the northern entrance to the San Francisco Bay. The original name was in fact "Point Boneta" - a reference to the resemblance of the area hills to the hats worn by Spanish religious officials. (Early lighthouse plans are still labeled "Point Boneta.")

A tunnel was cut through the rock to allow more direct access to the point.

In the late 19th century, Chinese laborers carved out this tunnel by hand.
These were the same laborers who had built the western end of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860&rsquos.

Looking through the tunnel going to the lighthouse

Inside the tunnel looking at the far-distant Point Lobos near the Cliff House, on the San Francisco side of the Gate

A view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge seen from the lighthouse tunnel entrance

In 1854, difficult work began on a lighthouse situated on the highest hill in the area - 260 feet above sea level. The point was very difficult to reach. The point was at the top of 50-foot cliffs, and the breakers from the Pacific side of the point are quite powerful. The first local contractor backed out of the job. A second firm completed the task - a California-cottage style dwelling, with a separate tower. The 56-foot high tower housed a fixed second-order Fresnel lens, the most powerful beacon of the San Francisco Bay. The lamp was lit for the first time on May 2, 1855.

As with many lighthouses of the area, fog was a major problem. High above the point, the lighthouse was often obscured by high fog. A surplus cannon was acquired from the Benicia Arsenal and a new keeper, Sgt. Edward Maloney, was hired to fire the cannon as a fog signal. The assignment proved very difficult, due to the frequency of fog in the area. Maloney once fired the cannon for three days, resting for only two hours. The cannon was also difficult to hear, and gunpowder was expensive. A fog bell with an automated clockwork was finally installed in 1856.

Difficulties in sighting the original light led the Lighthouse Service in the 1870's to move the light from the top of the hill to Land's End - the far end of the point itself. This is the most difficult area of Point Bonita to traverse, due to its steep cliffs and narrow paths. Huge breakers and rockslides were not uncommon. The first difficult steps in building a new lighthouse involved simply cutting a path to Land's End!

The view looking down to the water on the south side of the lighthouse
At low tide on calm days, kayakers pass through the natural archway in this stand of rock.
In the early 1940's a particularly violent storm washed out the narrow path between the lighthouse and the rest of Point Bonita. A wooden causeway was built to bridge the gap. this was replaced by a suspension bridge, which still stands. (At present, park personnel stand at both ends of the ridge to ensure that no more than five people are on the bridge at any given time.)

In the 1920's, Point Bonita's lamp was switched from a fixed to an osculating lens.
An eclipser was installed within the lens which would block out the light at regular intervals.

Up until 1940 the lighthouse could be reached without a bridge, but erosion caused a trail leading to the lighthouse to crumble into the sea. A wooden walkway was installed, but when that became treacherous the suspension bridge was built in 1954.

In the 1960's, the Coast Guard closed the station to the public. Compressed air horns had long replaced the old fog signals. By 1979, Point Bonita was the last manned lighthouse in California. The light was automated shortly afterwards. The station, while still maintained by the Coast Guard, was handed over to the National Parks Service as Park of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. The Parks Service re-opened the station to visitors. The original second-order Fresnel lens still graces the tower.

A view from the south side of the Point Bonita Lighthouse

A view from the north side of the Point Bonita Lighthouse

A view from the bridge near the lighthouse, looking north towards Tennessee Valley, Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, and Point Reyes over 30 miles away up the coast

Difficulties in sighting the original light led the Lighthouse Service in the 1870's to move the light from the top of the hill to Land's End - the far end of the point itself. This is the most difficult area of Point Bonita to traverse, due to its steep cliffs and narrow paths. Huge breakers and rockslides are not uncommon.

After visiting the Point Bonita Lighthouse, a reversed view inside the tunnel

Despite the effectiveness of the lighthouses, over 300 boats ran aground near the Golden Gate during the gold rush years. The worst maritime disaster occurred in 1901, when the steamer City of Rio de Janeiro struck Point Diablo, near Point Bonita. Despite approaching in darkness and continued fog, the pilot was pressured by an influential passenger to proceed. The lives of 128 passengers were lost when the City of Rio de Janeiro struck rocks, quickly filled with water and sank to the bottom of the Bay.

Newsletters Index: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Photography Index | Graphics Index | History Index

Home | Gallery | About Me | Links | Contact

© 2015 All rights reserved
The images are not in the public domain. They are the sole property of the artist and may not be reproduced on the Internet, sold, altered, enhanced, modified by artificial, digital or computer imaging or in any other form without the express written permission of the artist. Non-watermarked copies of photographs on this site can be purchased by contacting Ron.


Battery Point Lighthouse

It's been shaken by earthquakes and swamped by a tidal wave, but Battery Point Lighthouse is still standing. Built in 1856, this lighthouse is quite literally a house with a light on it, instead of the towering column structures that most lighthouses resemble. It's located in Crescent City in Northern California, right off of the scenic Redwood Highway and just 20 miles south of the Oregon border. It sits on a small piece of land about a half-mile from the lighthouse parking lot, but you'll have to time your visit accordingly. It's only accessible during low tide, so be sure to check conditions before driving out there.


South County Happenings, May 30

Upcoming meetings
City councils: Chula Vista, 5 p.m. Tuesday Coronado, 4 p.m. Tuesday Imperial Beach, 5 p.m. Wednesday National City, 6 p.m. Tuesday
School boards: Coronado Unified School District, 4 p.m. Thursday

Bonita museum joins Blue Star program

The Bonita Museum & Cultural Center, 4355 Bonita Road, recently announced that it will join in the Blue Star Museums initiative, a program that gives free admission to serving U.S. military personnel and their families this summer. The 2021 program is under way and ends Sept. 6. Among events planned are Flag Day ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. June 14, presented by the Military Order of The World Wars with the Daughters of the American Revolution, Girl Scouts San Diego and Scouting BSA and a “Salute to the Military” golf tournament from 1-5 p.m. June 25 at the Chula Vista Municipal Golf Course, followed by a preview of the new exhibit “Permission To Come Aboard: The History of Navy Ship Design,” from 5-8 p.m. That event will feature a gala dinner and walk-through of the exhibit with curator and veteran Joe Frangiosa Jr. Blue Star Museums is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts working with Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums nationwide. Find participating museums at arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

Compost workshops, in person and online

The Living Coast Discovery Center is offering in-person compost workshops every Sunday, free with admission. No registration required. Free virtual workshops are also being offered on select Sundays, with the next one at 2 p.m. June 6. Register at https://bit.ly/3hQ8Obf. The wildlife center is at 1000 Gunpowder Point Drive, Chula Vista. Call (619) 409-5900.

Free webinar on ways to cut bathroom waste

I Love a Clean San Diego offers a free Zero Waste Bathroom Webinar from 11 a.m.-noon Tuesday for those businesses interested in reducing bathroom waste. The webinar is hosted by the city of San Diego. Topics include bulk bathroom products, low-waste swaps, how to recycle products, and how to reduce what you’re sending to the landfill. Register for the webinar link at https://bit.ly/34fgpZ9. The seminar will also be offered in Spanish at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The San Diego Blood Bank hosts these blood drives. All donors will receive a San Diego Padres Blood Drive T-shirt while supplies last:

  • 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. today, East Lake Optimist Club, Vons parking lot, 2250 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista

Those 17 and older, weighing at least 114 pounds and in good health, may be eligible to donate blood. A good meal and plenty of fluids are recommended before donation. Appointment and photo ID required. Call (800) 469-7322 or visit SanDiegoBloodBank.org.

Please send items to [email protected] at least two weeks before events take place.

Get Essential San Diego, weekday mornings

Get top headlines from the Union-Tribune in your inbox weekday mornings, including top news, local, sports, business, entertainment and opinion.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the San Diego Union-Tribune.


Watch the video: Exploring Point Bonita Lighthouse in San Francisco