Point Cabrillo lighthouse lies about halfway between Mendocino and Caspar. Click here for map of her location. Louis Hough, our Train Club’s long-time secretary wrote two excellent articles about Point Cabrillo lighthouse which were published in the Mendocino Beacon. Click the thumbnails on the right to read them. You may need to use your mouse to “drag” the image to read all the article.
The Point Cabrillo lighthouse is a little over a 100 years old – her glim (light) was first lit in 1909. The lighthouse is situated on top of a 50 foot bluff about two miles north of Mendocino. The location is of great historical significance. Less than a half mile to the north lies Frolic Cove the site of one of the most important shipwrecks on the Pacific Coast. Two miles to the south at the mouth of Big River is where the first lumber mill was built on the Mendocino Coast. Point Cabrillo is named after Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo the earliest navigator and explorer to visit the Pacific Coast of California. One of his lieutenants is reported to have sailed this coast in 1542 and may have named Cape Mendocino after the Spanish Governor of New Spain (Mexico) Antonio de Mendosa.
Left – Visitors to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse posing about 1910
A rare shot of the machinery
inside the Point Cabrillo lighthouse that operated the fog horns that you can see on the top of the roof in the picture above and left.
The reason for Point Cabrillo’s existence is the bad weather that the Mendocino Coast can receive. In 1960 a series of massive storms coming out of the Gulf of Alaska battered the Redwood Empire. 50 foot swells surged up the bluffs in front of Point Cabrillo and damaged the lighthouse. The photo below left, was taken by a U.S. Coast Guard patrol plane the morning after the storm. Below right, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter, “Taney” is shown off the coast of San Francisco and it is estimated that the cutter is running 75 foot swells.