Point Bonita Lighthouse, the third lighthouse on the West Coast was built upon a high ridge 300 feet above the water, there were soon complaints that thick fog frequently obscured the light beam.
A new site at a lower elevation was chosen nearby at the tip of Point Bonita.
Unstable rock made construction of a hand-hewn tunnel and trail to the site challenging
Before building a new lighthouse, access to the point had to be improved. In 1876, Chinese workmen, responsible for the Sierra tunnels of the Transcontinental Railroad, were brought in to dig a 118-foot tunnel through the rock that had previously resisted cutting.
The tunnel allowed a railway to be extended from the landing platform west to the area where the keepers resided. Around this time, additional accommodations were built for the keepers next to the original dwelling.
The Point Bonita Lighthouse could be accessed by foot until 1940, when erosion cut a gap in the trail near the lighthouse.
A breeches buoy was temporarily set up to permit access to the lighthouse until a wooden causeway was built.
In 1954, the suspension bridge, which appropriately mirrors the style of the Golden Gate Bridge, was built over the chasm.
After a Federal Highway Administration report concluded that the rusting bridge posed a danger to the visiting public, it was closed in 2010.
Work on a new suspension bridge of a similar design began in September 2011, and the new bridge allowed public access to the lighthouse to resume in April 2012.
The price tag for the work, which was built by Flatiron West of Benicia, was around $1 million
For over 150 years, Point Bonita Lighthouse has aided ships navigating the treacherous waters of the Golden Gate. Its welcome beacon continues to greet both mariners and lighthouse visitors alike.
There have been three light signatures at Point Bonita. The first light shone steady, but later a mechanical eclipser was installed to produce an occulting light with a signature of 25 seconds on, 5 seconds off. Currently the light flashes once every three seconds.
Point Bonita today is part of the largest urban national park in the United States, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A secret jewel of the Bay Area, Point Bonita is still an active lighthouse.
The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the lighthouse and the National Park Service provides access to visitors.
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