Lighthouse Guided Ships into Harbor
The historic lighthouse has stood near the tip of Point Loma for over one hundred fifty years. The lighthouse is 422 feet above the ocean and was used to guide antique sailing vessels into the bay from November 15, 1855 to March 23, 1891. Because ships couldn’t see the lighthouse during fog or low clouds, a new lighthouse was built at the foot of the Point Loma cliffs at Whale Overlook, 100 yards south of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. The new lighthouse is still in operation and is not open for visitors. You can see it from the old lighthouse, as well as drive by it on a road that winds down the slope of the cliff to the Point Loma Tide Pools and scenic view points.
Lighthouse During WWII
Over time the Old Point Loma Lighthouse became neglected and run down. During WWII, gun mortars were placed near the lighthouse to help defend the naval ships in the harbor.
Original Lighthouse Living Quarters
More recently, Old Point Loma Lighthouse has been refurbished. The exterior is white. The original light bulb in the lighthouse was removed quite a while ago, and can be seen in an adjacent building along with elaborate displays and ranger-led talks.
The lighthouse interior appears much as it did in the 1880s. You can see the bedroom, kitchen/dining room, and living room, much as it appeared back then, furnished with antiques from that time period. Quarters were cramp with the windy spiral staircase leading to the small rooms on the second level and the lighthouse on the third.
Picnic Area During Horse and Buggy Days
The keeper of the lighthouse and his family lived on premise. The children rowed a boat to school each day across the San Diego Bay to Old Town. The lighthouse was a popular place to picnic for visitors who road their horse and buggy up the dirt trails.
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse was built after California entered the Union in 1850. Construction began in 1853 and was completed in the late summer of 1854. The lighthouse had a 5 foot Fresnel lens from France, cutting edge technology at the time. The lighthouse lit the way for 36 years and could be seen for 25 miles, except during fog or low clouds.
Lighthouse Hours: Open from 9am to 5pm, everyday of the year, including holidays and weekends. Bayside Trail closes at 4pm and the tidepools close at 4:30pm.