In the mid 1800s, ship traffic from San Francisco to the California Delta increased dramatically due to the discovery of Gold at Sutter’s Mill and the construction of the Navy’s first base on the West Coast on Mare Island. The first lighthouse to mark the entrance to Carquinez Strait was built in 1873. Not long after constructing the Mare Island Lighthouse, the Lighthouse Board realized that a beacon positioned offshore near the junction of Carquinez Strait and the Napa River would better serve navigation in the area.
In 1907, Congress appropriated $50,000 for a small light and fog signal at Carquinez Strait. Starting in 1908, hundreds of wooden piles were driven into the strait’s muddy bottom to create a long pier extending out into the water over a mile from Carquinez Heights. At the very end of the pier, a dock and causeway led to a platform which supported the lighthouse. Completed in 1909, the spacious 28-room, 3 story dwelling had a veranda which wrapped around the northern side. It housed 3 keepers and their families.
The red light from a fixed, fourth order Fresnel lens first shone in 1910, and the nearby Mare Island Lighthouse was discontinued 7 years later. The Carquinez Strait Lighthouse served until 1951 when it was replaced by a smaller automated beacon and fog signal. Four years later the lighthouse was offered for sale.
The building was purchased in 1955 and moved to it’s current location in Elliot Cove, next to Glen Cove, where the docks you see today were built around it. Intended to be named, Lighthouse Harbor, the marina eventually became Glen Cove Marina.
Sadly, the tower and lantern were destroyed during the move, but most of the building remains intact. The marina office and cafe are located on the veranda, which has been enclosed with giant windows, so visitors can still admire the views of the marina and Carquinez Strait.
Carquinez Strait Lighthouse was one of a chain of thirteen stations that started at the entrance to San Francisco Bay (Point Bonita) and ended at Roe Island in Suisun Bay.Of the seventeen original lighthouse buildings, only three others remain in existence: the St. Francis Yacht Club on Tinsley Island, the East Brothers lighthouse in San Pablo Bay (now a bed and breakfast establishment), and the Oakland Harbor Light (now Quinn’s Lighthouse, a restaurant and bar).
Glen Cove Marina’s “white Victorian house” was originally built as a twenty-eight room residency as part of the Carquinez Strait Lighthouse and Life Saving Station, which was located at the entrance to the deep water channel leading to Mare Island and the Napa River. First occupied on January 15, 1910, the lighthouse was one of a chain of seventeen stations that started at the entrance to San Francisco Bay (Point Bonita) and ended at Roe Island in Suisun Bay.
In 1955, the U.S. Coast Guard automated the light and fog horn mechanisms, and the main building of the Carquinez Strait Lighthouse was sold to a private party who, in 1957, moved the building by barge up the Strait to its present position at Elliot Cove, overlooking the scenic marina.
Of the seventeen original lighthouse buildings, only two others remain in existence: the St. Francis Yacht Club on Tinsley Island, and the East Brothers lighthouse in San Pablo Bay (now a bed and breakfast establishment).