By Susan Schell

Pilot Staff Writer

I've lived near the ocean all my life. And like many 'a salt water baby, I'm a bona fide lighthouse fanatic.

I can't resist the towering beacons that grace the rocky shores and the romantic tales that seem to surround each and every one of them.

Although dubbed obsolete by today's modern technology, they still attract ardent groups of preservationists that refuse to let these symbols of days gone by fall into ruin.

I often take road trips just to photograph lighthouses, or if there is one near a town I am visiting, I will make it a point to go out of my way to see it.

The images on this page (and page 14B) represent a mere fraction of my photographs of lighthouses, which continues to grow. Still, I am nowhere near finished. There are dozens I have yet to see.

Point Arena

The Point Arena Light Station is located on a lonely, isolated point near California's Highway 1 south of Fort Bragg. A narrow, windy road leads down to the bluff where the lighthouse sits. The original lighthouse, built in 1870, was structurally damaged by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and had to be torn down.

A San Francisco-based company was contracted to build a new lighthouse which had to be designed to withstand future quakes. The final design of the 115-foot tall structure reflects that company's specialty - building factory smokestacks.

The lighthouse and the property is owned by the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, who give daily tours. Three vacation rental homes are located on the property for people who like to get away from it all.

Point Vicente

Also known as the andquot;Hollywood Lighthouse,andquot; this once-lonely beacon is being encroached upon by million-dollar homes springing up around it. The real estate on the Palos Verdes peninsula is just too irresistible to developers to be left alone.

The structure itself is in a precarious position; the land it sits on is eroding away as huge chunks of cliff fall into the Pacific Ocean.

The lighthouse is said to be haunted. Locals know who haunts it and why, but they won't tell anyone. I am among those who know, but I won't tell either.

Point Reyes

This lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction, located north of San Francisco along the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County.

It sits on a bluff below a huge cliff. Visitors must negotiate a 308-step staircase to get to and from the lighthouse.

Point Fermin

This lighthouse is the antithesis of the brooding rough-shore beacon. This quaint Italianate Victorian-style building is the jewel of Point Fermin Park, the southernmost tip of Los Angeles. Built in 1874, the tower has been dark since 1941, when lighthouses were silenced during the war.

Nauset Lighthouse

The historic Nauset Light was rescued from the eroding sands on the edge of Cape Cod in 1996. The tower was moved 300 feet west to keep it from tumbling into the icy Atlantic.

The classic red and white tower is featured on the front of the Cape Cod potato chips bag.