Built in 1871 on a rocky promontory near Half Moon Bay on the California coast, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is now, itself, in distress. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake did minimal damage, but time and salt have taken a greater toll. In 2001 two large sections of brick and cast-iron fell from the tower and an investigation revealed that $5 million would be needed for restoration. Even if the money was available, the work might take seven years to complete – amazing since the original construction only took two years.
Now stripped of its light and foghorn, the lighthouse is closed to the public. However, its four Victorian cottages have been turned into a youth hostel – 142 years and still providing safety in the night.
Photograph by Darvin Atkeson.