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
LocationMonterey County, California, United States
Nearest cityCarmel, California
Coordinates36°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
Area92 acres (37 ha)
Governing bodyCalifornia Department of Parks and Recreation
Aerial view of Point Sur Lighthouse.
Aerial view of Point Sur Lighthouse.

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


Point Sur was a notorious hazard to navigation, and the site of many shipwrecks. In 1875, the USS Ventura ran onto rocks just north of Point Sur. Though the Ventura's captain was drunk, the absence of a light contributed to the tragedy.[2] The sinking of the Ventura became the impetus for building a lightstation in the remote area.[3]

John Bautista Henry Cooper, who owned a portion of Rancho El Sur surrounding Point Sur, sold .5 acres (0.20 ha) of land for the lighthouse and the right-of-way to the United States for $1,500 (or about $43,000 today) in November, 1889.[4]


Point Sur Lighthouse opened on August 1, 1889. The station was very remote and was necessarily 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.

Naval Facility Point Sur added

In 2000, the nearby Naval Facility Point Sur, except for one building retained by the U.S. Navy, was transferred to the California State Park system. It became part of the Point Sur State Historic Park. The state park is currently using some of the facility's housing. The facility is not open to the public.[5]

On February 3, 2017, the California Historical Resources Commission nominated Naval Facility Point Sur for the National Register of Historic Places. It was chosen in part because Point Sur NAVFAC is one of the last remaining Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) facilities, and the only one remaining on the West Coast.[6][7]


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.

See also


  1. ^ "Point Sur Lighthouse and State Historic Park". Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
  2. ^ "Point Sur State Historic Park-History". www.pointsur.org. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b Point Sur State Historic Park
  4. ^ "Appraisement Filed in Cooper Estate". Salinas Daily Index. Salinas, California: 2. January 19, 1914.
  5. ^ "Point Sur SHP". CA State Parks.
  6. ^ Mart, Greta. "Halcyon, Pt. Sur Naval Facility found worthy of preservation". www.kcbx.org. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Point Sur State Historic Park" (PDF). California State Parks.