On November 15, 1872, the first light from the Pigeon Point Lighthouse shone on the Pacific Ocean. This was a much needed navigational aid, as many ships had wrecked along this stretch of coastline hunting whales for oil. This area was popular for hunting because it is right along the migratory route of gray, blue, and humpback whales.
The cove to the south of the lighthouse is called "Whaler's Cove" for this reason. The name Pigeon Point comes from a clipper ship called "Carrier Pigeon" that crashed into the shores at this point. With growing concern over the amount of accidents that were happening, Congress invested $90,000 to have this lighthouse built. Pigeon Point is one of many lighthouses that were built along the West Coast during the mid to late 1800s.
One hundred years after this lighthouse was built, the Coast Guard retired the Fresnel lens in the lighthouse and replaced it with a modern, automated Aero Beacon that lasted until it was removed in 2011. Due to the building's deteriorating structural integrity, tours are no longer available. Current restoration efforts seek funding to re-open the lighthouse for the public.
The hostel at Pigeon Point Lighthouse has been an international destination since the 1960s. The renovated groundskeepers facilities are now four different houses adjacent to the lighthouse. Walking trails in this 4.5-acre landmark lead to various lookout points, a commemorative donors circle, picnic tables, and a small beach along Whaler's Cove.