Point Sur State Historic Park

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Point Sur State Historic Park
Point Sur Light Station – the rock.jpg
Point Sur from California State Route 1
Map showing the location of Point Sur State Historic Park
Map showing the location of Point Sur State Historic Park
Map showing the location of Point Sur State Historic Park
Map showing the location of Point Sur State Historic Park
Location Monterey County, California, USA
Nearest city Carmel, California
Coordinates 36°18′23″N 121°54′6″W / 36.30639°N 121.90167°W / 36.30639; -121.90167Coordinates: 36°18′23″N 121°54′6″W / 36.30639°N 121.90167°W / 36.30639; -121.90167
Area 92 acres (37 ha)
Established 1986
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation
Blacksmith shop at Point Sur Light Station

Point Sur State Historic Park is a state park unit of California, United States, preserving the 1889 Point Sur Lighthouse. The park is located on the Big Sur coastline of Monterey County, 19 miles (31 km) south of Rio Road in Carmel. It is both a California State Park and a property on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]


The name "El Sur" (meaning "The South") was first applied to a land grant named Rancho El Sur given by Governor José Figueroa to Juan Bautista Alvarado on July 30, 1834. A point that looked like an island and shaped like a trumpet, formerly known as "Morro de la Trompa" and "Punta que Parece Isla" during Spanish times, was renamed as Point Sur in 1851 by the U.S. Coast Survey.[2]


Point Sur was a notorious hazard to navigation, and the site of many shipwrecks. In 1875, the ship Ventura ran onto rocks just north of Point Sur, and many people died. Though the Ventura's captain was drunk, the absence of a light contributed to this tragedy.

After the sinking of the USS Ventura in 1875, it was determined that a lightstation was needed in this remote area.[3]

Point Sur Lighthouse opened on August 1, 1889. The station was very remote station and was necessarily relatively self-sufficient, as most supplies had to be brought in by ship. Lighthouse employees and their families had their own vegetable gardens. Children stayed with local ranchers during the week to attend school, returning home on weekends, or stayed with distant relatives. In 1927, a schoolteacher was assigned to the Lightstation to teach the six children who resided there. When Highway One through Big Sur was completed in 1927, children could attend school at a school house on Highway 1. In the 1940s, children from the Lightstation were assimilated into Big Sur's larger school.[3]

The Lighthouse Service was absorbed into the Coast Guard in 1939, and Point Sur Lighthouse became the property of the Coast Guard. The Lightstation was automated in the late 1960s, and in 1974 ceased to have a light keeper.

The coast off Point Sur Lighthouse was the location of the sinking of the United States Navy airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) in 1935.

Point Sur State Historic Park was established in 1986.


The park contains California's only complete turn-of-the-20th-century lighthouse open to the public. (The nearby Point Pinos Lighthouse is also open to the public, but is significantly older.) Walking tours are held year-round on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, and also on Thursdays during July and August. Tours are first-come, first-served; visitors are advised to arrive a half-hour before the tour.

Marine Protected Areas

Point Sur State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area are marine protected areas offshore from Point Sur Lighthouse. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.


  1. ^ "Point Sur Lighthouse and State Historic Park". Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Retrieved May 7, 2009. 
  2. ^ Gudde, Erwin Gustav (1998). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. Bright, William (fourth, rev. and enl. ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 379. ISBN 9780520266193. OCLC 37854320. 
  3. ^ a b Point Sur State Historic Park

External links

  • California State Parks: Official Point Sur State Historic Park website
  • Point Sur Lighthouse and State Historic Park
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