From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Reyes and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Reyes_Lighthouse :
Point Reyes was originally named Punto de los Reyes (“Kings’ Point”) by the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino as his ship, the Capitana anchored in Drake’s Bay on the Day of the Three Kings (Epiphany, or the end of the 12 Days of Christmas) on January 6, 1603. Although Sir Francis Drake landed somewhere near the area on June 17, 1579 and proclaimed it Nova Albion (New England), the exact location of his landing remains controversial.
During the Cold War, submarines repaired at Mare Island Naval Shipyard were tested in the shallow waters off Point Reyes following shipyard repairs. Navy safety personnel used a small monitoring and communications hut on the peninsula for monitoring submarines during these sea trials.
In April and May 1979, part of John Carpenter’s The Fog was shot at the Point Reyes Lighthouse and the small town of Inverness.
Two large mammalian species, nearly extirpated in the nineteenth century, have made a remarkable recovery at Point Reyes: the Northern elephant seal and the Tule elk.
Beginning in the 18th century Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) were hunted extensively almost to extinction by the end of the 19th century, being prized for oil that could be made from their blubber, and the population may have fallen as low as 20. In 1874 American whaleman Charles Melville Scammon recorded in Marine Mammals of the Northwestern Coast of America, that “the elephant seal…known to the Old Californians as Elefante marino had a geographical distribution from Cape Lazaro (about 1/4 of the way up the Baja peninsula) in the south to Point Reyes in the north”. They were thought to be extinct in 1884 until a remnant population of eight individuals was discovered on Guadalupe Island in 1892 by a Smithsonian expedition, who promptly killed seven of the eight for their collections. The elephant seals managed to survive, and were finally protected by the Mexican government in 1922. Subsequently the U.S. protection was strengthened after passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972, and numbers have now recovered to over 100,000. The first breeding pair was discovered on a sheltered beach below Point Reyes’ Chimney Rock in 1981 and has multiplied at a remarkable 16% per year to the present population of 1,500 to 2,000 individuals each winter.
In 1978, ten Tule Elk (Cervus canadensis ssp. nannodes) were re-introduced to Point Reyes from the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos. By 2009, over 440 elk were counted at Tomales Point’s 2,600 acres of coastal scrub and grasslands. In 1999, one hundred of the Tomales Point elk were moved to roam free in the Limantour wilderness area of the Seashore and above Drakes Beach.
Vegetation native to Point Reyes includes Bishop pine, Douglas-fir, coyote brush, monkeyflower, poison oak, California blackberry, salal and coast redwood, among others.
Nearly 490 avian species have been observed in the park and on adjacent waters.
The entire Point Reyes Peninsula is a piece of the Salinian Block transported northward by the San Andreas Fault. Its core is granite, unlike the terrain east of Tomales Bay. The San Andreas Fault runs directly under Tomales Bay.
Point Reyes is bounded to the east by the San Andreas Fault and is structurally dominated by the Point Reyes Syncline. The Point Reyes Peninsula is on the Pacific Plate, while the rest of Marin County land is on the North American Plate. The peninsula is a member of the Salinian Terrane, a segment of the southernmost Sierra Nevada range transported north from Southern California by movement along the San Andreas fault. Simply speaking the peninsula consists of three major members: the Salinian Cretaceous crystalline basement, the overlying Pliocene sedimentary rocks, and the late Pleistocene marine terrace deposits of the southern peninsula.
A lighthouse was assigned to Point Reyes in 1855, but construction was delayed for fifteen years because of a dispute between the United States Lighthouse Board and the landowners over a fair price for the land. The lighthouse is a sixteen sided, 37-foot (11 m) tower, and a twin of Cape Mendocino Light. The first-order Fresnel lens was first lit on December 1, 1870. Electricity came to the lighthouse in 1938, and concrete steps were built into the cliff in 1939. The station was automated in 1975.
The following historical information from March 1962 is maintained on the USCG web site:
Point Reyes Light Station was established in 1870 at Point Reyes, Calif., 19 miles (31 km) from the nearest town of Inverness. It is a family station with a complement of four men who maintain a first order light, fog signal and radio beacon. The light tower itself is a sixteen-sided structure of forged iron plate (the original tower) bolted to solid rock. The top of the lantern is 37 feet (11 m) above the ground and focal plane of the light is 294 feet (90 m) above sea level. To reach the light, men assigned must descend 308 steps on the headland from the plateau above the station where the family quarters are situated. The quarters are new, two-story, four-family units (four-plex) built in 1960. The four-plex contains two 2-bedroom and two 3-bedroom units. Buildings maintained on the property, in addition to the family quarters, are the fog signal building, engine room, pump house, paint locker, double garage and a four-car carport with adjoining office and work shop. Point Reyes is, by official records, the windiest and foggiest on the Pacific Coast. The station is frequently blanketed by week-long periods of fog and few years pass that do not see violent gales of 75 to 100 mph (121 – 161 km/h) strike the area. Point Reyes Light Station is one of the District’s outstanding tourist attractions. On fair summer weekends we often have several hundred visitors logged aboard. Escorting visitors has become a major portion of the duties of men assigned. Dependent children on the station travel three miles (five kilometers) by station vehicle to school. Commissary and post exchange privileges are available at Hamilton Air Force Base (the nearest armed forces installation), or in the San Francisco area.
The lighthouse was used as a location for the 1980 John Carpenter film The Fog.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.