The architecturally beautiful Point Fermin Lighthouse, which celebrated its 130th birthday this past December, has entered a new era as a more than ever popular tourist desitnation.
If a visit to the California or Los Angeles is in your plans a visit to the immaculately restored lighthouse, which resembles New Jersey’s Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, is an absolute must.
Although you will be amazed by the beauty of the park and the restored lighthouse, it is important to remember the unique history of the 1874 lighthouse that once had it’s lantern room removed.
Interestingly, the first keepers of the lighthouse were women, When sisters Mary and Ella Smith arrived here in 1874, the area was isolated and barren and not well suited for women keepers. However, they must have like it as they stayed on for eight years.
The lighthouse gained national fame in 1899, when thousands of people gathered at the site to witness railroad cars dumping rocks to build a breakwater. The first car dumped its rocks as President William McKinley symbolically pressed a button in the White House.
In 1909, the lighthouse grounds were again filled with thousands of people as they came to witness the arrival of President Teddy Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” of warships as they steamed into the harbor on the fleet’s historic voyage around the world to show off America’s might.
At the outbreak of World War II, Point Fermin Lighthouse was darkened and its lantern room was removed and replaced with a square room that was used as a lookout post for enemy ships and planes.
By 1972, two local citizens, John Olguin and Bill Olesen, realizing that there is nothing more degrading than a lighthouse without a lantern room, led a fund raising initiative to reinstall a lantern room, which was accomplished by 1974, in time for the 100th birthday of the lighthouse.
The Point Fermin Lighthouse is now open free to the public Tuesdays through Sundays between 1pm and 4pm with guided tours every hour at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm, however the lighthouse is closed on major holidays and major holiday weekends. Managed by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, private tours can be arranged for groups by calling (310) 241-0684.
This story appeared in the
July 2006 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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