Point Pinos Light, on the Pacific coast of California. was built in 1855 to guide ships through the dangerous southern entrance of the Monterey Bay. The name Punta de los Pinos translated to “Point of the Pines”, is an appropriate designation for the thickly wooded northern tip of the Monterey Peninsula where the pines grew almost to the water’s edge.
Often spelled Point Piños, Point Pinos Lighthouse is the oldest continuously-operating lightstation on the West Coast of the United States. Even the lens is original. Its first lightkeeper, Charles Layton, was killed in 1856 while serving as a member of the sheriff’s posse chasing the notorious outlaw, Anastacio Garcia.
In early Pacific Grove days Point Pinos Lighthouse was more than an aid to navigation; it was a social hub. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote of visiting lightkeeper Allen Luce in 1879 in The Old Pacific Capital, and Mrs. Emily Fish, Point Pinos’s most famous lightkeeper, was nicknamed “The Socialite Lightkeeper” for the many parties and dinners she held at the building.