The Año Nuevo State Park is the site of a historic lighthouse that was constructed in the 1860s, at the same time a wharf was built. The lighthouse was abandoned after World War II and was left into disrepair. Decades later, oceanic waves hitting the lighthouse and erosion form storms cause that structure to fall over. At the time the light house was discontinued, fog horns and lights along the ocean have been utilized as signals to ships that they are near the shore.
Isaac Chapman was a photographer who developed a collection of photos of the coastal towns between Santa Cruz and San Francisco.
The Dickerson Barn and other structures built near it are utilized as visitor areas at Año Nuevo State Park.
Presently, the main draw to Año Nuevo State Park is the thousands of elephant seals that migrate to the park grounds. Tens of thousands of years ago elephant seals lived on California Islands during breeding season to stay away form sabertooths and Grizzly bears. As both sabertooths became extinct and bears were reduced in numbers, the elephant seals began to live on the islands and on the shorelines.
In the 1800s, elephant seals were heavily hunted for their blubber for light lamps. As a result of the human hunting elephant seals became extinct in the United States and Canada and there were only 100 elephant seals left at the Guadalupe Island in Mexico. Mexico passed laws banning hunting of elephant seals, the United States soon followed suit, and the population of elephant seals had drastically grown in the past 200 years. Presently there are over 200,000 elephant seals in the world and 10,000 of them migrate to Año Nuevo State Park during breeding season.
Park Rangers Speaking About Año Nuevo State Park: