Point Bonita Tunnel

Visitors approaching the tunnel entrance from the north.
A group of visitors at the entrance to the tunnel.

Chad Beale

Quick Facts

Scenic View/Photo Spot

The hand-carved tunnel that cuts a path through pillow basalt on the way to the lighthouse gets a check-plus for spooky atmosphere, but it must have been even scarier walking around the cliff before the tunnel was constructed.

Who Built the Tunnel?

The short answer is, we don't know. But why don't we know? Whoever made the tunnel had to carve a path straight through basalt rock big enough for people. No small task. For government agencies not to have kept records about such an endeavor is curious, since so much of what they did was carefully regimented and recorded. Was there a reason for an intentional forgetting of the facts? One theory is that the tunnel was completed by Chinese immigrants, conscripted to work in unsafe conditions for extremely low pay. We'll probably never know, but the theory itself has value. Regardless of whether it's true or not, it's a powerful reminder that most of history is invisible, yet produces tangible results.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Last updated: July 21, 2021