Point Bonita Light, Marin Headlands

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Point Bonita Light, Marin Headlands

by | Jun 11, 2020

The Point Bonita Light is on the Marin Headlands at the entrance to the Golden Gate, 7 miles (11 km) west-northwest of San Francisco, and 4 miles (7 km) southwest of Sausalito, California. More than 300 boats ran aground near the Golden Gate during the California Gold Rush years. In 1855, a light was installed on the Marine Headlands in a brick tower 56 feet (17 m) tall at an elevation of 304 feet (93 m). However, the notoriously dense fog would often obscure the light and render it useless to mariners navigating the Golden Gate.

The fog signal and lighthouse were subsequently relocated to a lower elevation at the southwestern tip of Point Bonita in 1877. The new location required the builders to overcome many challenges, including the need for a hand-carved, hard rock tunnel 118 feet (36 m) long. A narrow path was also cut into the rocky point and a landing platform with a boom for lifting supplies was built in Bonita Cove. A railway with a forty-five-degree incline connected the platform to the path, and a steam-powered winch was used to pull small cars filled with supplies and construction materials up the track. The new lighthouse could be accessed only by foot until 1940 when erosion cut a gap in the trail. In 1954, a suspension bridge was built to span the gap, and this was replaced with a new bridge in 2012. The light was automated in 1981 and was the last manned light station on the California coast.

Point Bonita Lighthouse is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the facility is operated by the National Park Service, with the U.S. Coast Guard continuing to maintain the light and fog signal. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Bonita and the Marin Headlands here:

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