Piedras Blancas, which means white rocks, is located on California’s central coast, near Hearst Castle just north of San Simeon. It played a role in local maritime history, long before the building of the Piedras Blancas light station. Before the lighthouse was built at Point Piedras Blancas, it is believed a lookout from the San Simeon Whaling Station was posted on the property during the southbound migration of the California gray whale. When a whale was sighted the lookout signaled the whalers, who hunted their prey from 30 foot long whaling boats.
The first-order Fresnel lens in the 115-foot Piedras Blancas Lighthouse was first illuminated on February 15, 1875. In 1949, a fierce storm damaged the lantern room, and the lens, lantern room, ornate railing, and the beautiful sculpted upper portion of the tower were all removed. A rotating aerobeacon was placed atop the shortened, capped tower, and the lighthouse returned to service. In 1975 the tower was automated and the station unmanned.
In 2006, second and third-graders of Grover Heights Elementary school began the “Pennies for Piedras” campaign to raise money toward restoration of the lighthouse lantern. By the end of the school year, the students had raised $1337.30 in pennies toward restoration of the light.