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Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California | by Darvin Atkeson
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Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California

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My first encounter with this incredible structure was back in 1984 when I was stationed at Ft. Ord near Monterey California.


Each year around the third week of November they light the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and let the 24 main beams remain still for about 5 minutes so photographers can take long exposure pictures of the lighthouse. Afterwards the beams begin to rotate so that to a distant ship, they will see one flash every 10 seconds. I have been to this event several times since learning about it a number of years ago. Each year is different and more and more photographers show up. Unfortunately due to repairs on the lighthouse the main Fresnel lens has been removed and can be viewed in the building next to the lighthouse. Until the Lighthouse is repaired the events are postponed. Hopefully we will see it again soon.


It's truly impressive when lit. This image has been used on billboards, magazines, books, banners, pamphlets and numerous websites.


In 1853 the Clipper Ship Carrier Pigeon ran aground on rocks off the coast and sank. After several other ships followed suit it was decided to build the lighthouse was finished and lit for the first time on November 15th 1872. This event is celebrated each year with the lighting of the main lens. During the rest of the year, curtains block the view of the lens.


A new LED based beacon has replaced the Fresnel Lens and the Coast Guard beacon so it's not quite as impressive now as it was a few years ago. Hopefully the Lighthouse will receive funding and be restored. If you visit, please do bring a few dollars to donate it is greatly appreciated by all us photographers. If you cannot make it to the lighthouse but would like to help, please visit the official site at



- Darv

© Darvin Atkeson

California Photography

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Taken on December 16, 2007