Chris J LeBlanc Photography - Lighthouses
Providing details and historical information of lighthouse pictures taken during my travels
Point Vicente Lighthouse
Rancho Palos Verdes, California
© 2012 - Chris J LeBlanc Photographer
Location: Located in Rancho Palos Verdes, approximately 15 miles west of Long Beach.
Latitude: N 33.74193
Longitude: W 118.41076
Year Constructed: 1926. Active
Tower Height: 67 feet Focal Plane: 185 feet
Cylindrical reinforced concrete tower, painted white. The original Barbier, Bernard and Turenne 3rd order Fresnel lens (1886, transferred from an Alaskan lighthouse) is still in use.
- Station Established: 1926
- Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1926
- Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
- Construction Materials: CONCRETE
- Original Lens: THIRD ORDER, FRESNEL 1926
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 Palos Verdes Peninsula is the most prominent coastal feature between Point Loma to the south and Point Conception to the north. Despite the point's prominence, funding for a lighthouse to mark this turning point into the harbors of San Pedro and Long Beach was not approved until 1916.
The site on the point was fully acquire in 1922, but the fog signal was not activated until June 20, 1925, and the light atop the 67-foot cylindrical Point Vicente Lighthouse was not exhibited until April 14, 1926.
The light source was dimmed during World War II to avoid aiding the enemy. After the war, nearby residents complained about the bright flashes when the light was returned to its normal power, so the landward side of the lantern room was painted an opaque, pearly white.
Although automated in 1973, the station, complete with three keeper's quarters and a fog signal building, still houses Coast Guard personnel. The original Fresnel lens still revolves in the lantern room, producing two white flashes every twenty seconds. Powered by a 1,000 watt bulb, the light is rated at 437,000 candle power and can be seen up to twenty miles at sea.
Point Vinente Lighthouse Links