The Point Arena Light station is about 2 miles (3 km) north of the community of Point Arena, California. This area was originally inhabited by the Pomo Indians that lived in small groups or bands and are known for their tradition of intricate basketry. The Pomo cultures consisted of hundreds of independent hunter-gatherer communities.
The first European to record the point was Spaniard Bartolomé Ferrer in 1543, who named it Cabo de Fortunas (Spanish for "cape of fortunes"). The cape was renamed to Punta Delgado (narrow point) in 1775 by Lieutenant Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra who was on an expedition chartered by the government of Mexico to map the north coast of Alta California. Later the point, and the small harbor town south of it, were called Barra de Arena and finally Point Arena (literally "sand point").
The San Andreas Fault runs out to sea at Point Arena, and the cape represents a significant change in the orientation of the coast. A light was built here in 1870 to mark this critical turning point for shipping traffic carrying redwood lumber from Northern California to San Francisco. The great San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906 severely damaged this structure and it was replaced in 1908 with a new tower that stands 115 feet (35 m) tall, and had a Fresnel lens over six feet in diameter and weighing more than six tons. The light station was automated in 1977 and in 1984 a nonprofit organization called the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers acquired the light station. Read more here and here, and see a live webcam view here. Click here to explore more of Point Arena and the Mendocino coast.