Old Point Loma Lighthouse

San Diego, California - 1855 (1855**)

Photo of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

History of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse

Shortly after the State of California was acquired by the United States, the Government started planning on the lighting of the coastline. The first lighthouse to be built in Southern California was the Old Point Loma lighthouse. It was built on a bluff leading into San Diego Bay.

When the point was first surveyed, it seemed like a perfect place. The height of the bluff coupled with the height of the tower gave the light an effective plane of 460 feet above sea level, the highest in the US. This focal plane eventually led to the towers undoing. Many times during inclement weather, the tower wasn't visible. Low hanging clouds and fog often shrouded the light.

When not shrouded in fog and clouds, the tower was considered to be very powerful. The tower was originally slated to receive a First-Order Fresnel lens, but due to poor planning, it didn't fit. It ended up being fitted with a Third-Order Fresnel lens which was intended for the Table Bluff Light. The tower was short lived, and was replaced by the New Point Loma Lighthouse in 1891.

Directions: From Downtown San Diego, take Harbor Drive past the airport, and then turn left onto Rosecrans Street (Route 209). Follow this to Canon Street, and make a right. Once at Catalina Blvd. (also know as Cabrillo Memorial Drive), turn left. Follow Catalina Blvd. all the way to the end. From the Cabrillo Monument, you will be able to see the lighthouse.

View more Old Point Loma Lighthouse pictures
Tower Information
Tower Height: 46.00'
Focal Plane: 462'
Active Aid to Navigation: Deactivated (1891)
*Latitude: 32.67200 N
*Longitude: -117.24096 W
See this lighthouse on Google Maps.


* Please note that all GPS coordinates are approximated and are meant to put you in the vicinity of the lighthouse, not for navigation purposes.

** This year denotes a station date. This is the year that a lighthouse was first reported in the vicinity or at that location.

All photographs and information on this site is copyright © 2016 Bryan Penberthy unless otherwise specified. No content may be used without written permission. Any questions or comments, please email me.