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Point San Luis provides limited shelter for the community of Avila Beach and the southwestern shore of San Luis Bay, California. In 1873, a pier was built out to 540 feet (165 m), and then extended to 1,500 feet (457 m) in 1876. A narrow gauge railroad ran along the wharf and eventually connected the port facility, then known as Port Harford, to San Luis Obispo and other Central Coast communities. With these connections, Port Harford became a vital link for transporting both passengers and commerce to and from the area.
On May 1, 1888, the steamship Queen of the Pacific began taking on water 15 miles (24 km) out from Port Harford. The captain headed for the wharf at around 2 am, but with no light to mark the harbor, he was forced to go very slowly because of the dark and for fear of the rocks at the harbor entrance. The ship made it to within about 500 feet (150 m) of the pier, where it settled to the bottom in just 22 feet (6.7 m) of water. Fortunately, the passengers were safely off-loaded. This event was the final impetus for the construction of a lighthouse.
The light station was completed in June 1890, and was lit for the first time on June 30, 1890. A steam powered fog whistle became operational in 1891. A 4th Order Fresnel lens flashed a red and white light every 30 seconds that was visible for 17 nautical miles (31 km) out to sea. In 1969, the Fresnel lens was retired and replaced by an automated electric light. In 1974, the Coast Guard decommissioned the light station. In 1992, the Port San Luis Harbor District received the Point San Luis site from the Federal Government, with the understanding that the light station be a historical, educational, and recreational site, for the use and enjoyment by the public. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point San Luis here: