I have published many posts about my adventures while volunteering in Utah. But before becoming a park ranger at Natural Bridges National Monument, I volunteered as a docent at the beautiful Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro, CA. I fell in love with this area while visiting the graceful Victorian building surrounded by colorful flower gardens over looking the Pacific coast.
Fermin Point is one of the oldest lighthouses on the west coast and served as the first navigational light for San Pedro Bay. It was built in 1874 and served as an aid to safe passage between the Channel Islands and into the harbor for nearly one hundred years. Jose Diego Sepulveda donated the land for the lighthouse.
The first light house keepers in 1874 were two sisters, Mary and Ella Smith who worked at Fermin Lighthouse for eight years. It was very unusual at that time for women to occupy this postion. However, Mary and Ella Smith came from a lighthouse family and their brother Victor, was a Washington Territory customs officer. It is a mystery though why they chose to come to Point Fermin, as the area was quite isolated and barren at the time.
Captain George Shaw was hired for the lighthouse keeper position shortly after the Smith sister’s resignation in 1882. Shaw was a retired sea captain and was the first keeper at Point Fermin to wear the US Lighthouse Service uniform.
Between the years of 1927 and 1941, the light was electrified and managed by the city. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the lighthouse went dark when the entire West Coast was blackened. Sadly, the light was never to be lit again.
In 2002, the lighthouse was restored and rehabilitated for public access with funds from the City of Los Angeles, the Port of Los Angeles, and the State of California. The lighthouse was opened to the public on November 1, 2003 under the management of the Department of Recreation and Parks for the City of Los Angeles.
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