Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast

Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, published by Voyageur Press, is a guide in words and pictures to historic lighthouses along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Santa Cruz Lighthouse

Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast is one of the most fascinating, well-written, and well-photographed books about the coast that we’ve seen in a long time. It isn’t specifically about the Pacific Coast Highway, of course, but take a road trip up or down PCH and you’re sure to come upon some of these impressive lighthouses. 

Some are historic buildings, some are in really striking and dramatic settings, some even have accommodations that you can stay in, and this book is a very entertaining tale that covers the building of them, the history, the science - and the characters that have lived in them.

First Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast

It was interesting to learn that the first Public Works Act in the USA was the Lighthouse Bill of 1789. Lighthouses didn’t come to the west coast until the middle of the 19th century. This was after the US took possession of California from Mexico in 1848 and the subsequent discovery of gold near Sacramento.

There was a very real fear of a foreign invasion through the main harbor at San Francisco, so lighthouses were built to help protect the Bay area. The first lighthouse along the Pacific Coast was at Alcatraz, and it was lit on 1st June, 1854. The building of it was accompanied by political scandal, showing that things never change.

The authors (Randy Leffingwell and Pamela Welty) really bring these exciting times alive through their writing. Leffingwell also took the wonderful and very varied photos that make up this handsome paperback coffee-table book that runs to 176 pages. The only criticism we had was that the book would have benefited from a map, showing the lighthouse locations.

Other Aspects of West Coast Lighthouses

The book opens with a fine piece of writing, a vivid description of the excitement and the problems of an urgent repair job on the lighthouse at Cape Flattery. All lighthouse repairs are urgent - those lights have to stay lit.

Later in the book the authors explore other aspects in the life of a lighthouse - the lenses, the lights, the fuels they use, the finances of running a lighthouse, even down to the pensions for former lighthouse keepers. They’re all part of the bigger picture of keeping those lighthouses running.

Air Mail Service

So what do lighthouses have to do with the establishment of the US air mail service? The authors, having done their research thoroughly, let us know. The service was set up in 1918, and tragically seven out of the first ten airmail pilots died while doing their work. It’s the facts and human interest stories like this that make Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast such a good read.

Staying in a Lighthouse

For anyone who wants to stay in a lighthouse, a box on page 140 lists those with accommodation options. The Appendix at the back of the book then lists all lighthouses in alphabetical order with a potted history, latitude/longitude, opening hours and driving directions.

To sum up, Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast is a surprisingly lively and enjoyable read, with hundreds of dramatic color photos, and is a fine tribute to these historic west coast buildings.

Buying Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast
Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast is published by Voyageur Press and is available on Amazon USAAmazon UK and worldwide on Amazon and through bookstores. 

Other books pages

  • Your Insider's Guide to San Francisco

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's book review of Insider's Guide to San Francisco guidebook by Jill Loeffler, publisher of the San Francisco Tourism Tips website.

  • West Coast RV Parks

    One of the best guides to West Coast RV Parks, covering campgrounds in California, Oregon, and Washington, is West Coast RV Camping from Moon Guides.

  • Washington State Travel Guide

    The Washington State travel guide from Frommer's covers hotels in Seattle, driving the Pacific Coast Highway, Olympic National Park, where to eat and more.

  • Vintage Hollywood

    Vintage Hollywood in Los Angeles is an extract from the Lonely Planets book Culture Trails.

  • Cycling the USA West Coast

    Lonely Planet's Guide to Cycling the USA West Coast is a bicycling guidebook for anyone touring California, Oregon and Washington by bike.

  • California Camping Book Review

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's California Camping book review rates the 20th anniversary edition of Moon's complete guide to over 1400 tent and RV campgrounds.

  • The Best Coast Book Review

    The Best Coast is a west coast travel guide, sub-titled A Road Trip Atlas it doesn't use photos but instead has hundreds of beautiful illustrations.

  • Soul of Los Angeles

    Soul of Los Angeles from French publishers Jonglez is a travel guide to 30 Exceptional Experiences in California's largest city.

  • Santa Barbara Guidebook

    The Santa Barbara Guidebook from Moon Handbooks also covers California’s Central Coast with Ventura, San Luis Obispo, wine country, and Hearst Castle.

  • Road Food Guide

    West Coast Road Eats is a road food guide covering the Pacific Coast from California through Oregon to Washington, giving the best road trip food stops.

  • Books About the Pacific Coast Highway

    Books About the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Oregon and Washington including travel guidebooks, route guides, restaurant guides, and many more.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Road Trips: Lonely Planet Guidebook Review

    Review of the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trips book from Lonely Planet, which includes a California Driving Guide, by the Pacific Coast Highway Travel website.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide book covering the drive from Vancouver to San Diego.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Moon Guide

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip guide from Moon covering California, Oregon and Washington

  • Pacific Coast Highway in California

    The Pacific Coast Highway in California book shows in historic photos the building of the Pacific Coast Highway from its earliest beginnings in 1911.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Guides. Book and ebook hotel guides to PCH

    Pacific Coast Highway guides include our own printed book and ebook guides to the best hotels along the PCH, available in paperback, PDF and Kindle formats.

  • Olympic Peninsula Travel Guide

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews an Olympic Peninsula Travel Guide published by the Beautiful Pacific Northwest website.

  • Northwest Wine Country

    Northwest Wine Country is a food and wine lover's guide to vineyards, fine dining, accommodation, restaurants in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia.

  • Napa and Sonoma Guidebook

    The Napa and Sonoma Guidebook to California Wine Country is from the Moon Handbooks’ travel guide series with reviews of wineries,vineyards, and wine tastings.



Recent Articles

  1. Laguna Niguel Beach Trolley Starts Thursday May 26 2022

    May 27, 22 03:40 AM

    Laguna Niguel Trolley Starts Thursday May 26 2022. The Laguna Niguel Trolley runs on weekends from Memorial Day Weekend thru Labor Day Weekend. Explore Laguna Niguel from the hills to the sea with fre…

    Read More

  2. What Makes Coronado The Most Gorgeous Beach In San Diego?

    May 27, 22 03:40 AM

    Coronado Beach is a top tourist attraction in San Diego - and not just because it is the most gorgeous beach. It is a perfect vacation destination for everyone - thanks to the miles-long shoreline, a…

    Read More

  3. Best Things to Do in Ventura

    May 12, 22 09:53 AM

    The best things to do in Ventura include beaches and museums, seeing the mission, going to Ventura Pier, and a boat trip to the Channel Islands National Park.

    Read More