A defining feature of the northern California coast is a large bulge that protrudes westward into the Pacific Ocean. Along this bulge are two points, separated by roughly eleven miles, which extend farther west than any other points along the Golden State's lengthy shoreline. The northernmost of these points is Cape Mendocino, and the southernmost is Punta Gorda, Spanish for substantial point.
As ships hugged the California coast traveling northward, it is understandable how several ran aground on Punta Gorda. Between 1899 and 1907, at least eight ships met their end in the area. The initial request for a lighthouse to mark Punta Gorda was made in 1888, but it wasn't until after a fog-induced collision between the SS Columbia and the San Pedro on July 21, 1908, which claimed 87 lives, that congress appropriated funds for the Punta Gorda Lighthouse.
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