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 Lime Point, CA    
Lighthouse appeared in movie.
Description: Lime Point is situated on the northern side of the Golden Gate’s narrowest point. From this point, a rocky spur, just twenty feet wide, extends roughly 100 feet into the bay. In 1883, a narrow one-story fog signal building and a two-story keeper’s dwelling were constructed along the spur. The fog signal building was positioned closest to the water, so its two twelve-inch steam whistles, powered by coal-fired boilers, could warn vessels away from the rocky hazard. Water for the keepers and the fog signal was tapped at a nearby spring, piped to the station and stored in a 20,000-gallon tank.

Lime Point Lighthouse
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
The hungry boilers could consume over seventy-five tons of coal a year, at a rate of 250 pounds per hour when the signal was in operation. In an attempt to save money, the boilers were converted from coal to oil in 1902. The cost of operating the signal for a twenty-four hour period fell from $25.44 to $6.91, and the oil had the added advantage of producing less smoke.

Light stations, which may or may not have included a fog signal, were much more common than fog signal stations. However, fog posed a very serious danger to vessels, especially near San Francisco, and in the late 1800s, fog signal stations were established at Año Nuevo, Point Montara, Lime Point and Point Knox. A light was added at Año Nuevo in 1890, and a decade later, it was decided that the keepers at the remaining three fog signal stations should also exhibit a light. Accordingly, on November 26, 1900, lens lanterns were lighted at the three stations, and California now had three new lighthouses. The lens lantern at Lime Point was hung on the wall of the fog signal building at a height of just nineteen feet above the water.

Two keepers were originally assigned to the station, with each keeper required to stand two alternate, six-hour shifts a day. Later, a third story was added to the dwelling, likely to provide room for a third keeper to help with the growing workload at the station. This made for quite the settlement crowded onto the small rocky outcropping. In 1923, the keepers were given the added responsibility of maintaining a minor light placed on Point Diablo, 1.2 miles west of Lime Point.

Lime Point Keeper Harry Davis and wife Ester
Photograph courtesy Byron Oglesby
Being located at the base of a steep cliff at the foot of the Marin hills, the station witnessed several landslides and mudslides, the worst of which was triggered by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The slides caused minor damage to the station and often closed the trail to Sausalito.

When the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937, a fog horn and light were placed at the base of the bridge’s south tower, making the Fort Point Lighthouse unnecessary. The station at lime point, was located just east of the base of the north tower, and remained an effective position for a light and fog horn. Even with the massive, lighted bridge, and active fog signals, navigating the Golden Gate in foggy condition could still be tricky. On June 3, 1960, the 440-foot freighter India Bear wandered off course and rammed the station, even though the fog signal was sounding. The ship received $60,000 of damage, while the station had a repair bill of only $7,500.

In 1959, the station received another unexpected visitor just a week before Christmas, and it wasn’t Santa Claus. I’m not sure exactly what a burglar was expecting to steal from a light station, but the coastguardsmen manning the station that night found themselves looking down the barrel of a gun. The robber ordered the men to hand over all their cash, took a .45 automatic from a desk drawer, and then retreated down the station’s dark road firing a couple of warning shots to deter any attempt at a pursuit. Willard Salberg, the perpetrator, was arrested in a San Francisco bar about an hour after the incident.

Lime Point was automated in July of 1961, and the three-story dwelling and other outbuildings were torn down. All that remains of the station today is the pocked fog signal building, which mostly goes unnoticed by the throngs of tourists that come to admire the impressive art deco bridge.

Head Keepers: R. Holzhuter (1883 – 1901), John McKenna (1901 – 1902), Peter C. Nelson (1903 – 1931), Harry Davis (1931 - 1938), Elmer R. Williams (1938 - at least 1940), Earl Mayeau ( - 1956).

Photo Gallery: 1 2

References

  1. Guardians of the Golden Gate, Ralph Shanks, 1990.
  2. Lighthouses of the Pacific, Jim Gibbs, 1986.
  3. Umbrella Guide to California Lighthouses, Sharlene and Ted Nelson, 1993.

Location: This lighthouse sits at the foot of the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge and is difficult to see up close.
Latitude: 37.82545
Longitude: -122.47859

For a larger map of Lime Point Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: The best way to see the remains of this station is by boat, however, you can get a good view of the lighthouse from the Golden Gate Bridge. Park in the Vista Point parking lot at the northeast end of the bridge, and then walk south on the bridge to the first tower.

Bay Cruises offered by Blue & Gold Fleet and Red and White Fleet that pass under the Golden Gate Bridge will take you near the Lime Point Lighthouse.

The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard but is being transferred to the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. Grounds closed.

Find the closest hotels to Lime Point Lighthouse

Notes from a friend:

Kraig writes:
As you drive southbound over the Golden Gate Bridge and stop to pay your toll do you every wonder how much money they are raking in? Well, I looked it up, and in 2004, it was 84 million dollars. It seems like more than enough money to maintain the bridge, but apparently over 50% of the sum is used to help support ferry and bus service in the area.

One misconception, which I had heard several times and actually believed, is that the bridge is continually being painted - When they get to one end, they just start painting again at the other end. Well, according to the bridge's website, the bridge has only been completely painted a couple of times in its lifetime, though touch up work is done from time to time. Oh, by the way, the official color of the bridge is orange vermilion, deemed "International Orange," and was selected to help blend the bridge into its surroundings.

Lime Point Lighthouse can be seen in the movie Yours, Mine and Ours.

Marilyn writes:
Don't blink or you will miss this one.

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Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.