About Us

We Are the Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers

The Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers welcomes you to join our docent-led interpretive tours to experience a rich history of the beautifully restored Lighthouse, the Hornhouse, and other structures. Our tours will give you a glimpse into the lives of Lighthouse Keepers and their families, while helping keep our jewel of the Central Coast preserved and protected. Point San Luis is part of the Port San Luis Harbor District.

Our mission is to restore, preserve, maintain, and operate the Point San Luis Lighthouse Station, circa 1890, as an historical, educational, and recreational site, for the use and enjoyment of the public through tours, events, and educational programs. Point San Luis is part of the Harbor District’s vision of maintaining a sustainable harbor that preserves our marine heritage and character.

We are a 501(c)3 charitable organization and are supported by people like you. Proceeds from tours, weddings, memberships, events, donations, and special events all go into preserving the Lighthouse and it’s history.

 

 

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Photograph courtesy of National Archives

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Lighthouse History

In 1867, President Andrew Johnson signed an executive order directing the Department of the Interior “to take the necessary steps to cause the reservation for Light House purposes of an area not exceeding twenty acres of land at each of the following named points on the Pacific Coast” including “Point San Luis”.

On June 24, 1886, the San Luis Obispo Daily Republic newspaper noted that the necessary legislation had been passed and “the government having appropriated the sum of $50,000 for the construction of a lighthouse at Port Harford, it is presumed that the work will soon be commenced.” Construction was halted though on account of high costs and an inability to acquire the right parcel of land. The port would continue to stay dark for a few more years.

1888 – The Sinking of the Queen of the Pacific

On the night of May 1, 1888, disaster hit. The famed passenger and cargo steam ship, the Queen of the Pacific, was making its way into the harbor around 2AM and about 15 miles from Port Harford. The captain turned his ship to the harbor but had to proceed slowly because of the dark and for fear of the rocks at the harbor entrance. The ship made it to within about 500 feet of the pier, where it settled to the bottom in just 22 feet of water. Since most of the ship was still above water, there were no lives lost and the ship was eventually refloated. It was argued, however, that with a lighthouse to guide it, the ship would have easily made it to the pier.

In 1889 – Construction begins on the lighthouse.

1890 – Lighthouse is completed!

The Lighthouse operated until from 1890 until it was officially decommissioned in 1974 and the coast guard vacated the property.

After much work, in 1992, the Port San Luis Harbor District received the 30-acre site from the Federal Government with the requirement that the station be restored and opened to the public.

In 1995, the Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers non-profit corporation was formed to take on the responsibility of restoring the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse continues to be operated under the leadership of The Lighthouse Keepers. Point San Luis Lighthouse is a hidden gem of the Central Coast. At the present time, we offer weekly historical tours of a fully restored Lighthouse. The 30 acre site can be reached by a docent led hike of the Pecho Coast Trail, a classic trolley rides, or by kayak. We host ongoing field trips for local fourth grade classrooms, private parties, and weddings.

All the proceeds from our tours and events go into operation, restoration and conservation.

 

Our Leadership Team

The Lighthouse Keepers are led by an Executive Director, Program Manager, a Board or Directors, a team of drivers, and a group of 85 Docents and volunteers

Jim Ellsworth

President of the Board

Deb Foughty

Executive Director

Nancy Stuhlmiller

Treasurer

Gregory Chilina

Secretary

Tarren Collins

Board Member

Barton Dennen

Board Member

Carolyn Moffatt

Board Member

Susan Stewart

Board Member

Rick Rengal

Board Member

Gary Ruggerone

Board Member

Joe Bradbury

Board Member

John Lindsey

Board Member