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Mile Rocks Lighthouse

In Flat Broke in Paradise, when Nick, his mother, and his friend Jim set sail to the Farallon Islands 27 miles off the coast of San Francisco to scatter Nick's father's ashes, they headed out under the Golden Gate Bridge staying south of the potato patch where silt builds up and the water gets shallow, and to the north of Mile Rocks where an odd little lighthouse sits.

In 1889, a bell buoy was placed near Mile Rocks to warn ships of the danger of the rocks. The currents were too strong and the buoy was often pulled under or set adrift. In 1901, the City of Rio de Janeiro, an iron-hulled steam-powered passenger ship, hit the rocks while trying to pass through the Golden Gate in heavy fog. She sank in about eight minutes in over 300 feet of water. Of the 210 people on board, 130 lost their lives.

The City of Rio de Janeiro in 1898

The Miles Rock Lighthouse was finally completed in 1906 and sits on a blasted and flattened 30 by 40-foot slab of rock. When it was built it resembled a three-story wedding cake. 

Mile Rock Lighthouse in 1963 Photo Courtesy US Coast Guard

It was decapitated to a single blunt story by the Coast Guard in the 1960s when the lighthouse was automated. In 1966, the tower was removed and only the first story was left, and the light was automated.

The original fresnel lens now resides in the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego. The top of the first story is now a landing pad for helicopters.

You can learn much more about Mile Rocks and other lighthouses at

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