Trinidad Head Lighthouse

Oct. 22, 2019

Trinidad Head Lighthouse, Trinidad, California

Built in 1866.


Station Established: 1866
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1871
Operational? YES
Automated? YES  FEBRUARY 1974
Foundation Materials: STONE
Construction Materials: BRICK
Markings/Pattern: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL 1871
Current lens: 375 MM Optic
Radiobeacon, ELG 300 Electric Horn

Historical Information:

This low, square, brick tower, painted white, was built in 1871. The light is only 20 feet above ground, but the headland on which it stands gives it an elevation of 196 feet above the sea. The location is one of the most picturesque on the California coast. Despite the great height of the tower above the sea, heavy seas have been known to reach it. In 1913, the keeper made the following report: "At 4:40 p. m. I observed a sea of unusual height. When it struck the bluff the jar was very heavy. The lens immediately stopped revolving. The sea shot up the face of the bluff and over it, until the solid sea seemed to me to be on a level with where I stood in the lantern. The sea itself fell over onto the top of the bluff and struck the tower about on a level with the balcony. The whole point between the tower and the bluff was buried in water."

Trinidad Head (as of February 11, 1981)
th Order Fresnel Lens – Fog Bell (1898)
Location: 15 miles north of Eureka, California.

The station originally consisted of the small tow-story light tower, a single Victorian residence, and a small barn. In 1898, a bell house was constructed and a 4,000 pound bell was added that was operated by weights. A second keeper was assigned at that time and the quarters were expanded to accommodate two families. In 1947, the lens was changed from 4th Order to a 375 MM and the fog signal changed to an air horn. The town of Trinidad Head constructed a facsimile of the tower in a park overlooking the harbor and installed the original lens in its structure. The 4,000 pound bell is displayed alongside the tower. In the late 1960s, the Coast Guard razed the original dwelling and barn and constructed the present triplex. The fog signal was discontinued when the station was automated in 1974. However, the complaints from the citizens of Trinidad Head were so vocal that the Coast Guard was forced to install the present ELG 300, operated by fog detector. The new fog signal is operated in the original bell house. The original tower remains basically unchanged.