The squatty brick lighthouse that is seen today is not the original lighthouse that was built on the spot back in 1868. What you see today was built by the parents of an 18 year old boy, Mark Abbott, who drowned at the famous Steamer Lane surfing beach below. The parents used the insurance money paid to them from their son's death to build the red brick lighthouse in 1967.
The original lighthouse was built with state funding back in 1868. It was made of wood and has a tower containing a white light to warn boats of the dangerous rocks below. The light was changed to red subsequently to distinguish the lighthouse beacon from the redidential lights nearby. During World War II, the lighthouse tower was used as a lookout base. In 1948, the United States Coast Guard took down the original lighthouse.
The most interesting thing about the lighthouse is actually not its history, but the Santa Cruz Surfers' Museum lodged inside. The beach directly below on the grounds of Lighthouse Field State Beach is home to one of the most fabled surfing spots in the contiguous forty-eight, "Steamer Lane". It was only fitting that this quirky town of surfers and unconventional Californians start a surfers museum near this spot.
Inside you will find gnarly artifacts from over 100 years of surfing, including an old longboard made from a redwood plank and old photos and videos of our surfing forefathers (and mothers).
You can make your way down through Lighthouse Field State Beach after your visit and watch the surfers ride in on some of California's best waves.
The museum is open from noon to four p.m. Thrusday through Monday. Admission is free.