Bakersfield Field Office

 

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Outstanding Natural Area


Life at the Light Station

Dinner with Captain Thorndyke, circa 1900

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.


           Lorin V. Thorndyke and his two sons            

         Bert Breedlove, U.S. Coast Guard Officer-in-Charge from 1948-1951         

Lorin V. Thorndyke and his two sons, L. V. Junior (left) and John Emory (right). Photo courtesy of Donna Schneider

Bert Breedlove was the U.S Coast Guard Officer-in-Charge from 1948-1951. He was on duty when the earthquake struck in December of 1948 that caused the damage to the upper part of the lighthouse that led to it being removed.

            Norman and Elsie Francis in front of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, circa 1940s

       Men assigned to Piedras Blancas Light Station

Norman and Elsie Francis in front of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, circa 1940s. Norman Francis was the first Officer-in-Charge at Piedras Blancas with the U.S. Coast Guard. Photo courtesy of  Kathryn Bernard.

The men in this photo were assigned to Piedras Blancas Light Station in the mid-to-late 1940s. Photo courtesy of Pat Inabnit.


Piedras Blancas Light Station
Outstanding Natural Area

 

 Plan Your Visit 

 Photos & Media

 History & Culture

 Nature & Science 

 Education & Outreach

 Partnerships

 Light House Management

 Contact Information

National Conservation Lands


Bureau of Land Management
Bakersfield Field Office
Piedras Blancas Light Station
15950 Cabrillo Hwy
P.O. Box 129
San Simeon, CA 93452-0129
Tours: (805) 927-7361 
Contact us by Email

Bureau of Land Management
Bakersfield Field Office
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308
Phone: (661) 391-6000
Fax: (661) 391-6041
Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m., M-F
Contact us by Email