The Point Reyes Peninsula, which juts into the Pacific Ocean just north of the Golden Gate, has long been treacherous for ships traveling to and from San Francisco. In hopes of reducing the number of shipwrecks, Congress in 1852 appropriated $25,000 to build the Point Reyes Lighthouse.
Coping with the precipitous location and buying the necessary property, however, delayed construction of the forged-iron-plate building, so that the beacon did not go into operation until December 1, 1870. During the delay, at least seven more ships ran aground. It is impossible to say how many of them would have been saved by the beacon, however, for shipwrecks continued - although less often - after the lighthouse was in service. Some unfortunate skippers blamed the light itself, saying it was hard to see from the south. Others blamed the lighthouse's fog siren, saying it was hard to hear from the north.