Secret history of the Point Montara Lighthouse revealed

It seems the Point Montara Lighthouse has been hiding a secret identity for almost 80 years. Thought to be a California creation by historians and locals alike, a recent discovery unearthed the lighthouse's long-lost past… as the Mayo's Beach Lighthouse in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Once overlooking Wellfleet Harbor on the East Coast, the 30-foot lighthouse somehow made a 3,000-mile journey from Cape Cod to Point Montara in the mid-1920s. No records exist to document this transcontinental relocation, and for years it was thought that the original Mayo's Beach Lighthouse, built in 1881, had been scrapped after the light station's decommission in 1922. No one suspected that it had been moved to California's rugged shoreline, where previous records showed that the Point Montara Lighthouse was built from scratch in the Yerba Buena Lighthouse Depot in 1928.

According to Lighthouse Digest, which broke the story, Bob and Sandra Shanklin made the discovery with their daughter, Colleen MacNeney, while digitally scanning historical photos for a book about lighthouses. Known as the "Lighthouse People," the Shanklins have photographed every lighthouse in the United States, and were surprised to find an old photograph of the Point Montara Lighthouse bearing the inscription, "this tower formerly used at Mayo Beach, 2d District."

MacNeney conducted further research at the Coast Guard Historian's Office in Washington D.C., and found correspondence confirming their suspicions that the lighthouse had been moved.

Speculation still abounds about exactly how -- and why -- the cast-iron lighthouse was moved so far. If you feel like doing a little investigation of your own, or simply scoping out this traveling lighthouse, reserve your stay at the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel. Lounge in the historic fog signal building, sleep in former Coast Guard quarters, and soak up the ambiance of centuries past.


Watch the ABC7 News interview with Hostel Manager Chris Bauman.

Read the LA Times article on the discovery.

Read about the origins of the lighthouse in the Cape Cod Times.

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Check out the traveling lighthouse for yourself! Stay overnight at the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel.