This final article in the four-part series presents the story of the lighthouse lens that proudly stands guard at the entrance to the Pinedorado Grounds at 940 Main Street. In early 1949, the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse beacon was lowered from the lighthouse building because a crack had developed in the supporting masonry. As the owners of the Lighthouse, the United States Coast Guard sought a local partner to maintain and display the old lighthouse beacon (also referred to as a lens).
Since the Lions Club of Cambria was eager to promote its newly inaugurated community venue (Veterans’ Memorial Hall and surrounding grounds), the two parties met and reached an agreement, giving custodial responsibility to the Lions Club and maintaining ownership with the Coast Guard. On September 8, 1949, the beacon was moved to its present location and placed on a concrete pedestal, where it remains to this day. The metal enclosure for the lens was designed by retired architect and Lions Club member Bob Lane in the 1980s.
The history of the beacon is an interesting international story. It was placed on top of the 100-foot tower at Piedras Blanca in 1874 by the now defunct United States Lighthouse Service. Originally, the emitted light was given by burning kerosene vapor, magnified by the glass prisms that enclose the beacon. Heavy weights hanging in the tower operated the clock mechanism, as well as rotation of the light. The beacon is a French Fresnel lens and dates to the 1850s. The clock mechanism, also French, was crafted in 1872. The beacon is truly an installation of historic significance.
The Lions Club established a nonprofit foundation responsible for the maintenance of the beacon, but after many years of exposure and use (the light is in operation on some nights), the Lions Club sought to transfer responsibility to another entity. Today, while the Coast Guard maintains ownership of the beacon, the United States Bureau of Land Management—which manages the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse property—is responsible for maintaining the beacon.
The Lions Club has a long and proud history serving the community through scholarships, programs for children, the weekly farmers’ market, community eyeglass and vision support, and Pinedorado Days. To learn more about the Club, visit CambriaLions.org.