Point Loma – Cabrillo’s Discovery

Point Loma-9San Diego, California.

In 1542, the Spanish Galleon San Salvador left Mexico to explore the western edge of the continent. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s exploration along what is now the United States shoreline traveled as far north as Oregon. Cabrillo himself, though didn’t complete the voyage. He died on San Miguel Island, off the coast of Santa Barbara, from complications of a broken leg. His landing at what would become San Diego is believed to be at the east shore of what is now known as Point Loma. The image above is a close up look at the lens assembly in the Old Point Loma Light, a beacon that was first lighted in 1855. The lighthouse was meant to protect ships from the rocky point as they navigated the safe harbor to the east.

Point Loma-12

Point Loma is also home to the Cabrillo National Monument. Part of the area is a naval base, home to one of the United States Navy’s submarine fleets among other installations. Our goal for the day, however, would be to visit the national monument and the old lighthouse. We also made a stop at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, all within minutes of the tip of the point.

Point Loma-4The visitor center complex was busy on the day of our visit. An exhibition of historical military vehicles was the attraction of the day. In the gallery of images that follow, you will find a couple of images taken of these privately owned collector vehicles. Point Loma-8As it turned out, the placement of the light was inappropriate. High on the tip of the point, it often shone above the low layer of clouds and fog that often shrouds the harbor. By 1891, the light was extinguished and a new lighthouse built on lower ground to be visible below the low clouds took over lighting the way into the harbor.

Point Loma-1

My first visits to Point Loma were not pleasant ones, involving the interments of my brother and his wife at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Situated on a high point with views of both San Diego Harbor to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, the cemetery has been the final resting place for military personnel since the mid-1800s. The cemetery is now closed to new burials with the exception of subsequent interments for veterans and relatives of those who are already interred.

The gallery of images below feature views of the lighthouse and Cabrillo National Monument. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner



    • Thanks. Point Loma is a very photogenic destination. If you get a chance to visit the lighthouse, there is a great museum of lighthouse information in the small outbuilding next door to the lighthouse.

    • There isn’t a place in that cemetery that is not photogenic. The rolling terrain and rows of markers are both beautiful and awe-inspiring. The views of the harbor and Pacific Ocean are icing on the cake. Thanks!

  1. Sorry for the reason behind your first visit to the area but the cemetery as well as the lighthouse are both beautiful in their own ways.

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