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Pigeon Point Lighthouse Event Canceled

California Park Budget Cuts To Blame

Pigeon Point Lighthouse DetailIn what is sure to be a major disappointment for west coast photographers, the annual relighting of the First Order Fresnel lens at Pigeon Point Lighthouse in California has been canceled for this year. Originally set to take place on November 14, the Park Service has announced that budget cuts have precluded it from happening this year. This would have been the celebration of the 137th year of the first illumination of the lighthouse, which this ceremony commemorates.

According to the California State Parks, the cancellation is necessitated as a result of current budget restrictions, position vacancies and mandated employee furloughs.

This all day affair is a joint effort between the California State Parks, the Pigeon Point Hostel, and the United States Coast Guard. The annual event features an open house in the historic fog signal building from 10am until 7pm.  The highlight of the evening is from 6-8pm when the historic lighthouse’s Fresnel Lens lights up the sky. Exhibits in the 1899 Fog Signal Building feature lighthouse history, videos, marine mammals, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

This year, the light station park will only be open to visitors for grounds tours, a shore-based whale-watching program and the bookstore.

A Photographer’s Dream

Some of the best lighthouse shots I’ve seen are of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse relighting. The beam from the Fresnel, particularly when it’s foggy, makes for some of the loveliest photos ever published (see below). The Fresnel is still in place in the lighthouse, but is no longer in use on a daily basis. That job has been taken over by the 24 inch Aero Beacon installed on the exterior of the lantern room (see photo above).

Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point Lighthouse November 17, 2007

The lighthouse, with its five-wick lard oil lamp, and first-order Fresnel lens, comprised of 1,008 prisms, was first lit at sunset, November 15, 1872. At 115 feet tall, the tower shares the honors of the west coast’s tallest with another California light, the Point Arena Lighthouse. The Fresnel lens’ 1,008 separate prisms revolve at a rate of one revolution every four minutes, with the  twenty four flash panels producing a characteristic of one flash every ten seconds.

And you can see what that flash characteristic can produce for photographers. Let’s hope the economy improves so that this wonderful event can go on again next year.

Photo Credits:


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  1. 67 Comment(s)

  2. By Gary aka lighthousephoto on Oct 24, 2009 | Reply

    It is truly a shame that the annual relighthing at Pigeon Point has been canceled this year. I’ve been on the west coast for that event and seeing the big lens lighted and stationary for the first 5 min for the photographers and then it’s slow, majestic rotation for the next several hours is something that you’ll never forget if you get a chance to see it and photograph it.

  3. By Sue Clark on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    I really wish I’d been able to see it. Perhaps one of these years. It has to be one of the grandest sights to see.

  4. By Frust loswerden on Nov 5, 2009 | Reply

    it is a shame that the relighthing at pigeon point has been canceled

  5. By Thomas B on Nov 10, 2009 | Reply

    Not only is this cancellation a let down, but the way the Park Service has let this coastal icon crumble over the past four years is really, very sad. Every time I visit, it seems there are more fences put up and further signs of deterioration.

    I really hope they can turn things around before this landmark disappears forever.

  6. By Viki on Nov 18, 2009 | Reply

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