Point Pinos Light, Pacific Grove

Point Pinos Light, Pacific Grove

by | Sep 25, 2021

Point Pinos is in the community of Pacific Grove at the northern end of the Monterey Peninsula and is the location of the oldest continuously operated lighthouse on the U.S. west coast, about 24 miles (39 km) south-southeast of Santa Cruz and 3 miles (4.8 km) northwest of Monterey, California. The lighthouse is still an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation and is surrounded by the Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links. The Monterey Peninsula is located on the central California coast and comprises the cities of Monterey, Carmel Valley, Seaside, Carmel, Sand City, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, and Pacific Grove, and unincorporated areas of Monterey County including the resort and community of Pebble Beach. In 1602, the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino named Monterey Bay and the Monterey Peninsula after the Count of Monterrey, and named the point at the southern entrance to the bay Punta de Los Pinos, for the forest of Monterey Pines. The point was a part of the 2,667-acre (1,079 ha) Rancho Punta de Pinos Mexican land grant made to José María Armenta in 1833 and regranted to José Abrego in 1844.

The community of Pacific Grove was founded in 1875 by a group of Methodists who modeled the town after Ocean Grove, New Jersey. In time, the butterflies, fragrant pines, and fresh sea air brought others to the Pacific Grove Retreat to rest and meditate. Pacific Grove, like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey, became an artists’ haven in the 1890s. Artist enthusiasts of the outdoors, or ‘en plein air‘ method, from both Europe and the United States, were seeking an outdoor venue with natural beauty so that Pacific Grove was a magnet for this movement. This painting method contrasts with studio painting or academic rules that might create a predetermined look and instead allows the artist to paint directly onto the canvas in situ within the landscape. It enabled the artist to better capture the changing details of weather and light. The invention of portable canvases and easels allowed the practice to develop particularly in France and in the early 1830s, the Barbizon school of painting in natural light was highly influential. English painter William C. Adam and other artists moved to Pacific Grove in the early 1900s. For a number of years, John Steinbeck lived in a cottage in Pacific Grove owned by his father, Ernest, who was Monterey County Treasurer. Hopkins Marine Station was founded in 1892, making it the oldest marine laboratory on the Pacific Coast, and the second-oldest in the U.S., after the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

In 1850, after the Mexican-American War and the American acquisition of Alta California, Congress appropriated funds for the construction of seven lighthouses on the west coast, one of which was to be located at Point Pinos, the dangerous southern entrance to the Monterey Bay. The government purchased 25 acres (10 ha) of the Rancho Punta de Los Pinos for this purpose, with an additional 67 acres (27 ha) purchased later. Construction began in 1853, the Monterey Pine forest was cleared, and in 1855 the light station was completed and has served as an aid to navigation ever since. Point Pinos Lighthouse was automated in 1975. A radio navigation beacon and a foghorn were added to the facility, but with the advent of global positioning satellite navigation in 1993, the radio beacon and foghorn were deactivated. Point Pinos Lighthouse and nearly 70 acres (28 ha) of surrounding land were transferred to the City of Pacific Grove in August 2006. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Pinos and the Monterey Peninsula here:

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This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2019 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

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