Explore San Diego: Untold stories of the lighthouse

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POINT LOMA, Calif. – It’s one of San Diego’s most scenic and oldest landmarks. If walls could talk, there would be plenty to say about the Old Point Loma lighthouse, standing watch since 1855, keeping sailors safe and harboring secrets.

Its most famous keeper was Robert Israel, who lived here with his wife Maria and children for 18 years. Life was modest and lonely; they are what they grew and collected seashells for fun. They also hid a secret – Maria helped man the light, which was illegal back then since women weren’t allowed to work.

The drama doesn’t stop there.

After 18 years of faithful service, Robert was suddenly fired and no one knows why, though some believe he and Maria never truly left.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1891 after constant fog defeated its purpose. Today, it’s a museum with ranger-led tours. It’s part of Cabrillo National Monument and popular with tourists and school field trips. Twice a year, visitors can even climb to the top. So while the light has dimmed, the lighthouse still stands watch over San Diego Bay.

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