Life at the Light Station
The work of the early light keepers was routine and labor intensive. They worked long hours, seven days a week. Challenges of living at Piedras Blancas included social isolation, strong winds, adverse weather conditions, and obtaining an adequate supply of water. Rainwater was collected from the rooftops and at times water had to be purchased and hauled by wagon. The keepers dwelling, designed for use by 2 keepers and their families, was used by 3 keepers, which led to crowded living conditions and unhappiness. Fishing was a favorite pastime. Abalone were plucked from the tide pools to eat. In the early years the lighthouse children attended the Washington School, a two mile, one way walk.
Over the years there were numerous light keepers. The first principal keeper at Piedras Blancas Light Station was Stephen Morse. Captain Lorin V. Thorndyke was appointed principal keeper in 1879 and remained in that position for 27 years. The addition of a fog signal in 1906 resulted in the hiring of a 4th keeper. Norman Frances was the principal keeper when the management of the light station transitioned from the U.S. Lighthouse Service to the U.S. Coast Guard. Bert Breedlove was the Coast Guard officer-in-charge in 1949, when the upper part of the lighthouse was removed. In 1975 the light was automated and Coast Guard personnel no longer lived at Piedras Blancas.