I was driving up Hwy 1 in California north of San Francisco and I noticed a sign on the side of the road that read "Lighthouse" with an arrow pointing towards the coast. I pulled over, turned around and drove down the road towards the Port Arena Lighthouse.
The museum and lighthouse didn't open until 10:00 am and I got there at about 9:15 am so that gave me some time to shoot some photos along the coast line. Perfect lighting this early in the morning.
It was pretty windy and CHILLY out there even in May! Burrr.... I walked around and shot a few more photos of this awesome landscape. A quick Google search mentioned that this lighthouse was used as part of the filming in the Mel Gibson movie Forever Young. Neat! I enjoy visitin filming locations! Win-win.
Once the gates opened I drove up to the point and made my way into the museum in order to take the tour.
I walked into the museum, I happily paid my $7.50 tour fee which I thought was rather cheap for such a place. I was expecting $10-$15 just to help offset the costs of the landmark as well as to help fund the maintenance and restoration of this awesome piece of history.
The Port Arena Lighthouse sits 115' tall and I get to climb to the top!
After 145 steps later I was a little winded and sore. lol. The spiral staircase is awesome and I learned that the original staircase was a polished brass and was later painted grey by the coast guard once they took over. Bummer, I bet this thing was a sight to see all polished and shiny.
This particular lighthouse has had the large lamp removed and placed inside the museum for viewing. This gives us the visitors a nice open platform to get a nice 360 degree panoramic view of the shoreline.
The 10ft tall lamp was replaced by a LED housing which measures about 12" tall that sits just outside the glass housing.
Spectacular views! Man am I glad I got to stop by and check this place out. It was definitely and unexpected stop but I'm so glad I got to visit.
A guide at the top of the lighthouse gives a short presentation about the history and features of the lighthouse. The guide at the time wasn't the most engaging guide I've listened to but the information given was thorough and informative.
Platforms and benches every so often help those out of shape visitors like myself take a breather. Hehe.
Steps dated 1869. Wow. This was the first thing I saw that made me realize this building was well over 145 years old which ironically is how many steps I had to climb to the top. The age of this structure finally sinks in.
As I mentioned earlier this lighthouse was part of the filming in the 1992 movie named Forever Young. Copies of newspaper clippings from 1992 are framed in the museum showing some behind the scene photos. I remember seeing the movie and after visiting the Port Arena Lighthouse I plan to watch it again soon.
If you're planning a visit I would definitely recommend visiting in the early hours of the morning as I did in order to catch the best light for photographs. Evening light would also be nice but most of what you'll be shooting may be in the shadows.