Point Cabrillo Light is located between Point Arena and Cape Mendocino, just south of the community of Caspar, California. Point Cabrillo is a sandstone headland named for the Portuguese explorer João Rodrigues Cabrilho, although Cabrillo's voyages of exploration on behalf of Spain along the California coast did not reach this far north.
On July 25, 1850, the sailing brig Frolic was abandoned here after she ran aground. The brig had been employed in opium trafficking but on this trip was loaded with household goods bound for San Francisco to capitalize on the gold rush boom. The following year an attempt was made to salvage the vessel and goods, and this expedition discovered the coastal redwood forests of the Mendocino area. This led to the beginning of the timber trade when Henry Meiggs built the first sawmill at the mouth of Big River. Others followed, and soon the Mendocino Coast was home to hundreds of sawmills that would drive the local economy for decades.
The lighthouse was constructed in 1908 and began operation in 1909. The combination lighthouse and fog-signal building has an attached octagonal light tower 47 feet (14 m) tall. The lighthouse building took major damage in 1960 after a storm caused waves that crested above the light and flooded the building with mud, but the lens remained undamaged. The U.S. Coast Guard manned the station until 1973, when the lens was covered and a modern rotating beacon was mounted on a metal stand on the roof west of the lantern room. The California State Coastal Conservancy purchased the land and light station in 1991 and partnered with the North Coast Interpretive Association to restore the buildings and manage the preserve which is now part of the California State Parks system. Read more here and here. Click here to explore more of Point Cabrillo and the Mendocino coast.