Before the 1850s, the West Coast had little need for lighthouses. But as more and more people traveled West, Congress recognized there was a growing need for them. In 1852, eight lighthouses were commissioned to be built, seven of which ended up in California. Point Pinos was one of the seven built. As Monterey became an increasingly busy port of call, the nearby emerging town of Pacific Grove became an ideal location to build.
The light produced from this lighthouse has gone through many changes over the years. When constructed, it was fitted with a state of the art Fresnel light. Invented by Augustine Fresnel (pronounced fruh-NELL), this light was produced by taking the illumination from burning whale oil and converting it into a dense narrow beam. The light source went through many changes over the years until 1919, when it was converted to electricity.
Set on the tip of the Monterey Bay peninsula, Point Pinos Lighthouse is now the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast. A golf course almost surrounds the perimeter of the property, providing a nice view of the Pacific Ocean. The suggested entrance donation is reasonable, and the facilities are fairly well maintained.