Año Nuevo Island Abandoned and Decaying Lighthouse Station

abandoned california lighthouse

Año Nuevo Island can be found right off the coast of Año Nuevo Bay and is part of Año Nuevo State Reserve, the closest road being Cabrillo Highway in Pescadero, California.

abandoned california lighthouse

Año Nuevo Island was named by Father Antonio de la Ascension in 1603. Point Año Nuevo presented a hazard to ships passing along the coast because it had low profile rocks jutting into the sea. With the increase in the shipping industry many wrecks occurred along this coastline. In 1866, a ship named Coya became submerged in a deep fog and hit a reef, it sank quickly with only 3 of the 30 crew members on board to survive. This wreck prompted the call for a lighthouse in the Point Año Nuevo vicinity. Soon after this the island was reserved by the government for lighthouse purposes, but a lady named Loren Coburn, claimed ownership of the island and demanded a large amount of money for it. Finally in 1870, the government was able to purchase the island and in 1872 a steam fog whistle and a keeper’s dwelling were built on the island.

By 1890, a light was added to the island to aid to the warning system. It was an oil lens lantern mounted on top of a water tank. An elaborate keeper’s dwelling was added in 1906 and had 8 rooms, 1 for the head keeper and 7 for the assistants. Maintenance of the buildings proved to be a constant issue because of the damaging sea air. Later, a larger lens was installed on a steel tower that rose 73 feet above the water in 1914. Fences were also built to keep the sea lions from encroaching on the houses and gardens, but the ever growing herds of seals often over-ran the area.

Eventually the island consisted of many little buildings including, a tramway, wood catwalks, carpenter’s shop, chicken house, small storage buildings, water catchment basin, the keeper’s and assistant dwellings, a cistern and water tank.

The station was closed in 1948 after the Coast Guard determined that the cost of maintaining the island was too great. A marker buoy with automatic sound, light, and radar reflector replaced the former light and fog signal. The Federal Government sold the island to the state of California in 1955. The state decided to make the island a scientific preserve and restricted public use and access to allow the elephant seal colonies to grow, who had almost been hunted to extinction. The buildings on the island have been left to the elements, vandalize lit fires and tore up the remaining structures. The climate and sea air also did damage to the buildings that were left. The keeper’s quarters were quickly taken over by the elephant seals, sea lions, and other bird species. In 1976, the light tower was torn down for safety reasons.

As of 2013, Año Nuevo Island remains as a safe haven for wildlife and is closed to the public.

abandoned california lighthouse

abandoned california lighthouse

On this close – up of the Google Satellite view you can even see the elephant seals and sea lions, how awesome!

Where is the Año Nuevo Island Abandoned Lighthouse Station located? You can find it with these coordinates. 37.108351,-122.336723.

Image 1 used under the Creative Commons License Attribution Non Commercial 2.0 Generic. Image 1 by cmh2315fl.
Image 2 Bing Maps Aerial view.
Image 3 used under the Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic.
Image 3 by Marc_Smith.
Image 4 used under the Creative Commons License Attribution Non Commercial 2.0 Generic. Image 4 by eeetthaannn.

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