1873 the United States Congress granted fifteen thousand dollars
for the construction of a steam fog-signal at Point Montara
(Public Acts of the Forty-Second Congress, Third Session).
The fog signal was first established in 1875 to guide sailors
through the heavy fog that contributed to many shipwrecks
in the area. The steam whistle was the third fog signal operating
on the coast of California. A light, created from a red lens
lantern that hung from a post, was first established in 1900.
A fourth-order Fresnel lens was brought onsite in 1912 and
a skeleton tower made of wood was built to hold it. That tower
was replaced in 1928 with a 30-foot tall steel tower and octagonal
cast iron lantern, giving the lighthouse a focal plane of
70 feet above sea level. The light was automated in 1970 and
the Fresnel lens was replaced with a smaller, modern optic.
This light is still active today and is leased for use as
a hostel by American Youth Hostels, Inc.