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Point Montara Lighthouse is located in Montara, California, about 25 miles (40 km) south of San Francisco and 8 miles (13 km) north of Halfmoon Bay.
The California Gold Rush brought a rush of immigrants to San Francisco and most arrived on ships. By the mid 1800’s, almost 90 vessels had wrecked on the jagged rocks off Point Montara. The need for a lighthouse was emphasized by the wreck of the Colorado in 1868 and the Aculeo in 1872. The Colorado was a large Pacific Mail steamship carrying hundreds of passengers and the U.S. mail that ran aground on uncharted shoals off Point Montara. The ledge where the ship grounded became known as “Colorado Reef”. Four years later, the British sailing ship Aculeo allided with the same reef after being lost for more than three days in thick fog.
Lighthouse construction at Point Montara began in October 1874. The station included a two-story Victorian residence and a fog signal that could be heard up to 15 miles (24 km) away. The original lighthouse tower was replaced in 1928 with a cast iron tower first erected in 1881 in Wellfleet, Massachusetts as the Mayo Beach Lighthouse. The tower is only 30 feet (9 m) high, which is short by most standards, but good for keeping the beam beneath the fog. In 1970, the foghorn was replaced by an off-shore horn buoy and the light was automated. The State of California developed a plan in 1975 to transform a few vacant lighthouses into youth hostels, and the facility at Point Montara is now managed by Hostelling International USA. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Montara here: