Point Vicente Ligthouse

Oct. 1, 2019

Point Vicente Ligthouse, Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Built in 1926.


Station Established: 1926
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1926
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1973
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
Construction Materials: CONCRETE
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: THIRD ORDER, FRESNEL 1926

Historical Information:

The Point Vicente Lighthouse is an important landmark and beacon light relied by thousands of ships and pleasure craft. It provides a means of fixing their position, and ensuring their safe passage up and down the coast. The Point Vicente Light Station has been guiding sailing vessels to and from the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbors since March 1926. It was first operated and maintained by the U.S. Lighthouse Service for 13 years prior to being taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard, which was delegated all aid-to-navigation responsibilities in 1939. The lighthouse was manned until 1971 when it was then automated by a remote electronic aids-to-navigation monitoring system.

The cylindrical tower is 67 feet tall, and it should be noted that the masonry structure is built on the edge of a 130-foot cliff. This places the center of the lantern 185 feet above the ocean, and because of this elevation, the 1.1 million candlepower-beam can be seen twenty miles away. The most beautiful part in the lighthouse is the classical third-order rotating Fresnel Lens located in the lantern This particular lens was manufactured around 1910 in Paris, France, by Barbier, Bernard and Turenne, the oldest lens making company in the world. This Lighthouse lens is made up of hand-ground prisms held in place by a cast brass frame. The prisms and frame represent an excellent example of the precision achieved by optical scientists and the lens making art in utilizing the known principles and properties of light.

The Fresnel Lens was invented over a century and a half ago by the French geometrician and physicist Augustine Jean Fresnel (1788- - 1827) in 1822. Since that time Fresnel Lenses similar to the one at Point Vicente have been in service in lighthouses throughout the world.