The wreck of the Hellespoint fed fuel to a growing movement seeking government funds for construction of a lighthouse along this notorious stretch of shoreline…but when they first chose to buy Ano Nuevo, and finding the asking price too high, the government settled on nearby Pigeon Point.
Workers completed the 100-foot tower built on solid rock in 1872. Besides featuring a revolving lens made in France (which originally wound up like a grandfather clock), the elegant lighthouse used 500,000 bricks and iron work in its construvction.
Captain J.W. Patterson, “an old salt,” and who arrived aboard the ship ‘Mentor’ in 1823, was put in charge of the new tower.
Despite the presence of a lighthouse at Pigeon Point (and hopes expressed for another at Pillar Point), the steamer ‘Columbia’ found herself stranded there in 1897. Local residents reportedly rushed to the scene where they stripped the staterooms of white and gold moulding which they used for picture frames.
Others removed copper wire and many observed that nearly every house in the vicinity was equipped with a copper wire clothesline. The tons of white lead discovered aboard the ‘Columbia’ was used to give homes in Pescadero a fresh coat of white paint. One man earned so much money on the wreck that he bought himself a new home in Spanishtown (later called Half Moon Bay.)
And some say that although the tower at Pigeon Point still lights the way for those who sail by, the rocky shoreline holds an uncertain fate for the unlucky few who lose their way.