Santa Cruz Island  

Sundial: 899
State/Province:  California Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Vertical Dial Condition:  Restored
  Latitude and Longitude: 34° 1.385' N  119° 32.700' W
  • Above the door on Smugglers Cove Ranch House, Smugglers Cove, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park. To reach the Ranch House requires a boat trip to Scorpion Harbor and a 7 mile round trip hike up and down ramble to the rocky, south facing beach of Smugglers Cove.
  • This vertical dial has undergone a number of restorations since it was set in lime in 1889. A photograph from 1900 shows the placement of a gnomon rod is horizontal. In 1992 before the National Park Service restoration in 2012 the gnomon is set in a polar orientation. But it doesn't really matter since the hour lines are marked at nearly regular 15 degree intervals with half hour sub-marks.

    For some reason dial lines are rotated about 15 minutes such that 12:15 is on the vertical. The longitude of the dial is 2 minutes east of the Pacific Time Zone meridian and cannot account for the 15 minute shift. The 6am-6pm line is not 180 deg apart nor does the line pass through the gnomon point on the wall.

    The Smuggler’s Ranch House was originally built in 1887 out of rubble masonry with lime mortar to hold it all together. The mortar was etched with the sundial.

    The name Smugglers Cove appears early in California history from a Report of the Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey for 1856. The island used to be the largest privately held island off the continental United States before being transferred to the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy. It was used for extensive ranching for much of its history and as the name implies, occasional smuggling and bootlegging.

    Smuggler’s Ranch House restoration began in the summer of 2012 using the 3-coat process with different graded EcoMortar and finished with Lime Paint. The current dial was re-etched in the lime following the original outline.
General Information:Inscription:
  • Owner: National Park Service
  • Block within the dial:
    1899 M.d. A P
  • Designer: unknown
  • Builder: unknown
  • Construction Date: 1899
References: Web Links:
  • Read about the history of Smugglers Cove at:,_Santa_Cruz_Island

    This website links to an interest time-lapse video of the sundial.

    Additional photos of the dial and Ranch House can be found at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden image files:

Last Revised: 2018-02-02 01:49