Letter: Wonder why Pigeon Point Lighthouse is unlit?


By on Thu, April 30, 2009


NOTE: Some folks have been wondering why the beacon at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse has been out recently. We received the following answer from a docent at the lighthouse.

Pigeon Point is still an active aid to navigation but has been operating in backup mode since October 2008. It has been dark during the daytime because the aerobeacon that the Coast Guard has used since 1972 failed. There is a smaller fixed backup light of much reduced intensity that flashes one time every ten seconds, but only when it is dark. You have to be on the ocean side to see the light - it’s not like the rotating aerobeacon that you can normally see up and down the coast for quite a distance (the aerobeacon is rated at 24 miles visibility in the Coast Guard’s Light List).

However, about a week ago, the backup light also stopped lighting! Since I haven’t been at the point at night since the last annual Fresnel Lens lighting in November 2008, I called the hostel to confirm that the backup is lighting and learned that it too has been down for about a week. People from the hostel are going to call to notify the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard is replacing the aerobeacon with a new one - in fact, both Point Arena and Pigeon Point are slated for replacement beacons because both failed in last year. We (the docents for State Parks) are not sure about when the replacement will take place, but we know it will.

If you look up at the tower from the ocean side, you can see the backup light beneath the now-still aerobeacon. And inside the lantern room, behind the curtains, our original first order Fresnel Lens is still there and we are still able to light that lens, but only on special occasions.

We look forward to seeing Pigeon Point back at full power.

Rob Johnson
Pigeon Point Light Station Docent