Location: Loleta, CA
Notable Features: Former Lightstation and Coast guard station, founding site of Gospel Outreach, amazing panoramic views
Overview: Situated in Humboldt county, Lighthouse Ranch has quite a colorful history. It was named for its vicinity to the Table Bluff lighthouse. After initial issues with acquiring the land(the owner wanted no less than $5,000; the parcel was later sold for less than half that price), this lighthouse was built in 1892, modeled after one built in 1890 at San Luis Obispo. Electricity was added to the building in 1935. The building also served as a coastal lookout and radio station during the Second World War. After the war, the Coast Guard demolished several of the buildings in favor of new housing.
The lighthouse was one of the first to be automated, in 1953, and the original Fresnel lens was removed in lieu of modern optics. It was also at this time that the Fog signal was deemed obsolete and was deactivated. The entire lighthouse was lated deactivated in 1971 when a new lighthouse was established at the entrance to Humboldt Harbor. The lighthouse was later cut in two and relocated in 1987 under the guidance of Ray Glavich.
Within this time, the land was first called "Lighthouse Ranch" when it was purchased in 1969 by Ken Smith, a pastor of a Christian youth ministry in Oregon. Lighthouse ranch was bought by Jim Durkin in 1971, and Gospel Outreach was established. Lighthouse ranch became the home of more than two-hundred youths who came looking for spiritual guidance. During this time, the fog signal building was converted into a chapel.
When Jim Durkin died in 1996, The outreach abandoned the Lighthouse Ranch and relocated, and the land fell into disuse. Eventually, in 2005, the land was sold to the State. The land was later donated to the Bureau of Land Management in 2012. To increase public access, the BLM razed all of the remaining buildings on the land, including the fog signal building, carpenter shop, oil house, and the foundation for the station itself. The water tower, which stood at seventy-five feet and was constructed from redwood, was moved to the Piedras Blancas Light station area where it can still be viewed.
Today, devoid of any of the original buildings, beautiful panoramic views can be seen across the property. The site overlooks the South Spit of Humboldt Bay, the Eel River Delta, and the Pacific Ocean. The land is used for public recreation, such as picnicking, hiking, sightseeing, and wildlife viewing, and for natural resource interpretation. The Lighthouse Ranch is a beautiful landscape with a fascinating history that is enjoyed by all.
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