Lighthouses Of The Oregon Coast - South,
Central and North Coast
Umpqua River Lighthouse is located in Douglas County
on the Southern Oregon coast. Construction began in
1856, local Indians, who for centuries had used the area
as a prime hunting and fishing ground were none too
pleased to watch the progress.
On October 10, 1857, Keeper Fayette Crosby lit the
third-order Fresnel lens, the first light along the
Oregon Coast. The lighthouse was similar to others built
at the time, a large Cape Cod duplex with a tower rising
from the gabled roof, 92 feet above ground.
Unfortunately, the survey crew never saw the site at
flood stage, or the location may have been different.
Winter storms brought swollen river banks and crashing
seas. The lighthouse, built on sand, was constantly
battered. A coastal gale, on February 8, 1861, along
with a record mountain run off, combined to blast away
at the foundation. The foundation was eroded and the
house and tower tilted slightly. Another violent storm
in October 1863 added even more to the damage. Later,
the tower came crashing down.
In 1888, construction of the second Umpqua River
lighthouse. This time, with lesson learned, it was built
further inland on a headland above the mouth of the
river. The site is the furthest away from a river or
ocean of all the lighthouses along the Oregon coast.
Construction lasted from 1891 to 1894. The new
lighthouse is a 65-foot tower which stands 165 feet
above sea level. The tower, brick overlaid with cement
plaster, is 5 feet thick at the base and tapers to 21
inches thick at the parapet. The lighthouse station
included the tower, two oil houses, two dwellings, and a
barn. The light, a first-order Fresnel lens manufactured
in 1890 by Barbier & Cie of Paris, using a Funck mineral
oil lamp, was lit for the first time on December 31,
1894, with a signature of two white flashes followed by
a red flash. The light was automated in the 1960s and
several of the outbuildings were torn down. Before the
light was automated, it was only lit one hour before
sunset until one hour after sunrise. Curtains were drawn
around the lantern room to protect the lens from the
Today the Fresnel light is still shining. The
lighthouse is part of the Umpqua River State Park and is managed by
Douglas County Parks, who host a museum in one of the former Coast
Guard buildings and conduct tours of the tower during the summer
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse.
Yaquina Bay is listed on the National Register of Historic Places,
and this lighthouse is believed to be the oldest remaining structure
in Newport. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is located in a state park at the
north end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge just a few miles south of the
taller tower of Yaquina Head. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was
completed 1871 and stayed open for only 3 years. After along time of
neglect, it has been restored beautifully and in 1996 the light was
reactivated. (The original Fifth Order lens has been long gone.) In
the basement area is a great gift shop.
Heceta Head Lighthouse
is located on the central Oregon coast, 12 miles north
of Florence. The area was named after Captain Don Bruno
de Heceta of the Spanish Royal Navy. He was an explorer
whose expedition passed along the coast of Oregon around
1775. After nearly two years and cost of $180,000,
construction of this lighthouse was completed in 1894.
Bricks and cement from San Francisco, stone from the
Clackamas River, and wood from Oregon mills were shipped
to this site. This beautiful lighthouse can be seen over
22 miles and from the Oregon Sea Lions Caves. It is 205
feet above sea level. In order to create a flat table on
this rocky cliff, it took over 1,000 barrels of blasting
Heceta Head State Park is located in a cove at the mouth
of Cape Creek. There are picnic tables fantastic views
the ocean. A nice trail leads to the lighthouse and the lighthousekeeper's house. A view of the coast north to
Cape Perpetua can be seen as well. Heceta Head trail
offers beach and wildlife viewing areas and is part of a
7-mile network. Sea lions, whales, wildlife refuge,
gulls and other sea life can be seen from the trail,
beach and cliff top lighthouse.
Fee based for daily use or for annual permit for access
to all state park day use areas.
For more info call
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, on the Northern Coast
began in June 1879, a lighthouse engineer boated out to
the rock to determine if a lighthouse there would be
feasible. Though there were monstrous seas, and a
landing was impossible, the engineer decided the rock
could be conquered. An intriguing and powerful testament
of the will and determination of the human spirit.
Knicknamed "Terrible Tilly" All materials for the
lighthouse were brought by boat and hauled up the rock
by derricks. The structure originally was a one-story
room, 48 x 45 feet with a 32 x 28 extension for the fog
Later a half story was added. A
16-foot square tower rising from the center of the
building supports the lantern room and parapet, which
housed a first-order Fresnel lens (no longer In). After
a total of 525 days of labor, the lighthouse was lit for
the first time on January 21, 1881. The light shown 133
feet above the sea with a signature of a white flash
every five seconds. Terrible Tilly shone her light for
77 years. On September 1, 1957, Keeper Oswald Allik
turned off the light. The structure was gutted and
turned into the Eternity at Sea Columbarium.
info Call 1-800-551-6949.
Photograph by Jason Wesley
Cape Meares Lighthouse is located atop a 217 foot
cliff on the Northern Oregon Coast. Originally named
Cape Lookout by explorer Captain John Meares in 1788,
Originally, Cape Meares was named Cape Lookout by
explorer Captain John Meares, then renamed. Construction
of the lighthouse began in 1888. The first-order Fresnel
lens was shipped from France around Cape Horn to Cape
Meares. A hand-operated crane made from local spruce
trees was used to lift the crates containing the prisms
of the one-ton lens up the 200 foot cliff to the tower.
The tower is made of sheet iron lined with bricks, the
only one of its kind on the Oregon coast.
The light was lit for the first time on January 1, 1890.
Though the squatty lighthouse was only 38 feet tall,
located on a 217-foot cliff, it could be seen for 21
miles. The lightstation consisted of the tower and two
oil houses. In 1895 a workroom abutting the tower was
added. Electricity came to the lighthouse in 1934, and
the two oil houses were dismantled. The lighthouse was
decommissioned in 1963 when an automated beacon was
installed on a concrete blockhouse a few feet from the
tower. The new light can be seen 25 miles at sea.
The lighthouse was opened to the public on Memorial Day,
1980. During the vacancy, the tower was subjected to
vandalism. All four bull's-eye prisms were stolen from
the lens. In 1984, one of the prisms was recovered in
Portland, Oregon and two more found their way back.
Yaquina Head, Oregon's tallest lighthouse at 93 feet
is located North of Newport, on the Central Oregon Coast
overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Yaquina Head. Built in
1872 with over 370,000 bricks. A 1000 watt globe has
replaced the original oil wicks, and it now generates
over 130,000 candlepower. Yaquina Head Outstanding
Natural Area is the home of "Quarry Cove."
Lighthouses Of The Oregon Coast
The lighthouse is open daily. There are private tours
available by calling the Bureau of Land Management at
541-574-3100, Monday - Friday. Fees are based per car,
includes a three day pass. Call for Annual passes.
The Interpretive Store and the Interpretive Center are
open daily as well. The Interpretive Store phone number
Contact Them For Hours & Prices
is located in Coos Bay on the Southern Oregon coast.
The prominent headland lies just south of the entrance to
boomerang-shaped Coos Bay, where a rapidly developing lumber
business had transformed the region into a bustling shipping center.
Long before white settlers arrived in 1853, the Coos Indians lived
in villages near the bay, which now bears their name. Just south of
Coos Bay and 2.5 miles north of Cape Arago, is a small, detached
piece of land with sheer cliffs known as Chief's Island. It was on
this island that the first Cape Arago Lighthouse was erected in
The octagonal, wrought iron tower was capped with a lantern room
housing a fourth-order Fresnel lens and was supported by spindly
metal legs. Located at the northern end of the island, the tower was
linked via a wooden walkway to a one-and-a-half-story wooden
keeper's dwelling, constructed near the southern end of the island.
Rowboats were initially used to access the island, until a low
bridge to the island was constructed in 1876. However, high seas cut
short the bridge's life after just two years, and the boats were a
necessity once again.
In 1878, a lifesaving station was established on the island, then it
was moved to the mainland in 1891, where it would be more
accessible. In 1889, there was construction of a more robust high
bridge to link the island to the mainland. In 1896, the Cape Arago
Station received several improvements. The existing light tower was
encased in bricks and covered with stucco. A brick fog building
housing a Daboll trumpet was constructed adjacent to the tower, and
a new duplex was built for the keepers.
When the fog signal had been in operation for just over ten years,
erosion on the point endangered the lighthouse and fog building. A
wood-frame fog signal building with an attached octagonal tower was
built near the keeper's duplex. The light and fog signal began
operation on July 1, 1909. The new tower was similar in appearance
to the lighthouse that had been recently constructed at Mukilteo,
In 1934, the wooden lighthouse was moved a short distance to the
east to serve as the keeper's office, and Cape Arago's third
lighthouse was constructed nearby. Perhaps seeking a more durable
structure, the new lighthouse was constructed of concrete, using the
plans from Washington's Point Robinson Lighthouse.
The only surviving structures on the island today are the third
lighthouse and the high bridge constructed in 1889 to provide access
to the island. The original lighthouse was blown up with dynamite in
1936, shortly after the third lighthouse was completed. The keeper's
duplex was razed in 1957, and the second lighthouse met the same
fate in the 1960s. The station was automated in 1966. The Coast
Guard removed the Fresnel lens from the tower in 1993, and placed it
on display at Coast Guard Air Station North Bend.
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Coquille River Lighthouse
Coquille River Lighthouse is located in Coos County on the
Oregon coast, where the Coquille River empties into the
Pacific Ocean. It is adjacent to the town of
Bandon. The lighthouse was a logical step for improving
navigation at the river’s mouth. The lighthouse would
act as both a coastal light and a harbor light. A bill
authorizing its construction was passed in 1891, but it
would be four years before land was purchased, plans
were solidified, and the construction crew arrived on
The workers first leveled the top of Rackleff Rock to
provide a base for the lighthouse and oil house. Local
stone was cut to form the structure’s foundation, while
the lighthouse itself was built of brick, covered with a
layer of stucco. The design was unique with a
cylindrical tower attached to the east side of an
elongated, octagonal room, which housed the fog signal
equipment and had a large trumpet protruding from its
A long, wooden walkway connected the lighthouse to the
keepers’ dwelling, 650 feet away. The dwelling was a
one-and-one-half story duplex, and a barn was located
150 feet beyond the dwelling. The fourth-order Fresnel
lens was first shown from the tower on February 29,
1896. A snowstorm settled in the next day, necessitating
the first use of the fog signal.
In 1939 the Coast Guard took responsibility for the
lighthouse and decided it was no longer needed. An
automated beacon was placed at the end of the south
jetty, the dwelling was disassembled, and the lighthouse
was abandoned. The lighthouse stood neglected for
twenty-four years, until Bullards Beach State Park was
created on the north side of the river. The grounds of
the original 11-acre light station were included in the
park, and the park assumed responsibility for the
lighthouse. A joint restoration effort involving Oregon
State Parks and the Army Corps of Engineers was launched
in 1976. The roof was repaired, bricks were replaced,
and the lighthouse received a fresh coat of paint before
it was opened to the public. As part of the Bandon
centennial celebration in 1991, a solar-powered light
was placed in the tower. The lighthouse is further
illuminated in December, when it is outlined in lights
and plans also call for restoring the lantern room,
placing a fourth-order Fresnel lens in the tower,
repairing stucco, and installing a replica foghorn.
more info call 1-800-551-6949
Blanco Lighthouse is located near Port Orford, on
the Southern Oregon coast in Curry County. Before
construction of the lighthouse, the cape was covered
with a spruce forest. The trees had to be felled to
prevent obstruction of the light. Since the lighthouse
was far from any harbor, its primary function was to
warn ships away from the reefs, which extended from the
cape, and to provide a position fix for navigators. The
light from a powerful first-order Fresnel lens with a
fixed, white signature served this function well.
James Langlois and James Hughes served the longest terms
as keepers at Cape Blanco, and during most of their
terms they served together. By the late 1890s, Hughes
had two children and Langlois five. The duplex was
becoming crowded. The inspector requested the
construction of an additional dwelling at the cape, but
it took almost ten years of requests before the new
dwelling was completed in 1908. Around 1910, a hood was
placed around the lamp, and a clockwork mechanism was
used to raise and lower the hood to produce a flashing
signature. Between 1896 and 1916, more than 4,0000
visitors signed the guest book. In 1936, the original lens was replaced by a
slightly smaller revolving lens with eight bullseyes.
The new lens was rotated by an electric motor, powered
by a generator. The motor and lens are still operating
in the tower today.
In 1980, the lighthouse was automated. Twelve years
later, two local teenagers broke into the lighthouse and
with a sledgehammer smashed one of the lens' bullseyes
and six smaller prisms. The boys were eventually
apprehended and convicted. After a nation-wide search,
Larry Hardin of Hardin Optical Company in nearby Bandon
was selected to repair the lens. By the spring of 1994,
the lens had been repaired using Corning Pyrex, at a
cost of $80,000.
On April 1, of 1996, the station was once again
opened to visitors. The two keepers' dwellings,
oil house, water tower, and other utility
buildings are all long gone, but the tower, the
centerpiece of the station, remains, and visitors
are allowed to ascend the spiral staircase to the
lantern room, where the repaired lens can be
For Hours, Fees, Directions & Tours for
all lighthouses, please call
the State Park Information Center directly at: 800-551-6949
All of the above Lighthouses
are located all along the
The Pacific Coast Highway
visitors a great opportunity of enjoying the coast.
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