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Oregon Lighthouses

Cape Arago
"Oregon's first lighthouse was built in 1855-1856 near the mouth of the Umpqua River, twenty-five miles north of Coos Bay. However, in 1861 the overflowing river undermined the brick tower, causing it to topple. By this time, the Coos Bay area had surpassed the Umpqua River region in commercial importance, and it was decided that the interests of commerce would be better served by a new light at Cape Arago, rather than reconstructing the light at Umpqua River. Funds were allocated accordingly, and November 1, 1866, the first Cape Arago Lighthouse was illuminated. 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."  Friends of the Lighthouses


Cape Blanco
"Cape Blanco juts out one and a half miles into the Pacific Ocean from Oregon's southern coast. At the end of the cape is a large headland with 200-foot cliffs along most of its perimeter. These chalky cliffs prompted early Spanish explorers to name this landmark, which is the most westerly point in Oregon, Cape Blanco or White Cape. Before construction began on the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, the site was covered with a dense spruce forest, but the trees had to be felled to prevent obstruction of the light. Besides producing a good supply of lumber, the deforestation also eliminated any chance of a forest fire endangering the station.  Before construction began on the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, the site was covered with a dense spruce forest, but the trees had to be felled to prevent obstruction of the light. Besides producing a good supply of lumber, the deforestation also eliminated any chance of a forest fire endangering the station." Friends of the Lighthouses

Cape Meares
"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." Friends of the Lighthouses

Cleft of the Rock (Cape Perpetua)
"The Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse was built in 1976 by former lighthouse attendant and noted historian Jim Gibbs. It takes its name from the hymn by Fanny J. Crosby, “He Hideth My Soul in the Cleft of the Rock”, which is based on Exodus 33:22. Mr. Gibbs designed the lighthouse as a replica of the former Fiddle Reef Lighthouse, which was located on Oak Bay near Victoria B.C. Made of redwood siding painted driftwood grey, it stands 34 feet tall, 110 feet above sea. Its optic, formerly used by the Canadian Coast Guard at sea-girt Solander Island off the west coast of Vancouver Island, sends a beam from a small halogen globe, that can be seen 16 miles out to sea, with a signature of white and red alternating flashes every 10 seconds."  Friends of the Lighthouses

Coquille River
"The area around the present-day town of Bandon was inhabited by the Coquille Indians, before white settlers started to arrive in 1850. The town site was settled in 1853 and was first called Averill. After the arrival of several immigrants from Bandon, Ireland in 1873, the town’s name was changed to Bandon in 1874.  Adjacent to the town, the Coquille River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The river extends inland a great distance, and was a natural link to the virgin stands of timber in the area. The bar at the mouth of the river, formed by the interaction of the river and ocean, was a major obstacle for the ships entering the river. At times, only a few feet of water would cover the bar, but still vessels attempted to navigate the river in hopes of reaping the rewards that lay upstream. A Coquille River Lighthouse was the next logical step for improving navigation at the river’s mouth. The lighthouse would act as both a coastal light and a harbor light." Friends of the Lighthouses

Heceta Head
"Heceta Head Lighthouse is located on a breathtaking bluff 150 feet above the sea. It is one of the most visited lighthouses in the United States drawing thousands of visitors each year to sense its history, romantic aura, and spectacular view. Construction of the lighthouse began in 1892. Lumber came from local mills, the masonry and cement came from San Francisco, and rock used in the base of the tower was quarried from the Clackamas River near Oregon City. Laborers were paid $2 a day and worked an average of ten hours a day. The highest paid carpenter received $4 a day. The tower is 56 feet tall with a focal plane of 205 feet above sea level. The most powerful light along the Oregon coast, the light can be seen 21 miles out to sea and is only stopped by the curvature of the earth." Friends of the Lighthouses

Lightship Columbia WLV 604
"When LV 50 was towed to the Columbia River Lightship Station on April 11, 1892, it became the first active lightship on the west coast. In 1979, eighty-six years after the establishment of the station, a large navigational buoy (LNB) replaced WLV 606, and the last lightship serving on the west coast was retired. LV 50 was a wooden-hulled vessel constructed in San Francisco and housed two coal-fired boilers, which produced steam for a twelve-inch fog whistle. Three oil lamp lenses, used to alert vessels at night, topped the ship's two masts. The ship had no engine for propulsion, but was equipped with sails in case the anchor chain, which held the vessel at a position roughly five miles west of the Columbia River's mouth, broke." Friends of the Lighthouses

Tillamook Rock
"An intriguing and powerful testament of the will and determination of the human spirit, the story of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse began in 1879. Originally, it was hoped that a lighthouse could be built at Tillamook Head, a 1,000 foot high headland 20 miles south of the Columbia River. However, with its high elevation, fog often shrouded the top and its shear face offered no acceptable alternative.  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." Friends of the Lighthouses

Umpqua River
"Many thought the Umpqua River area would become a major shipping center due to its abundance of "green gold", the pristine timber rapidly being harvested. The turbulent force with which the river collided with the ocean created a great hazard for ships, and a beacon marking the spot was greatly needed. In 1851, Congress appropriated $15,000 for the Umpqua River Lighthouse and 33 acres were set aside for the site. Work was delayed when on September 13, 1853, the supplies for the light were destroyed when the schooner "Oriole" foundered just off Cape Disappointment. Finally, in 1856, construction began."  Friends of the Lighthouses

Warrior Rock Light
"Warrior Rock Lighthouse, built in 1889, was originally a small two story structure atop a sandstone foundation. The single room first floor served as the keeper's quarters. The second floor was primarily a covered half deck housing the lens lantern and fog bell. Eventually, a house and barn were added to the property. The bell has the distinction of being the oldest fog bell in the Pacific Northwest. Cast in Philadelphia in 1855, the bell was first used at Cape Disappointment at the mouth of the Columbia River. The winds, land contour, and roaring seas made it difficult to hear the bell, so the bell was replaced and moved to the West Point Lighthouse in Puget Sound before eventually ending up at Warrior Rock in 1889. Lightkeeper Frank DeRoy, who served in the 1920s, nicknamed the bell "Black Moria" because the striking mechanism would often break and he would have to ring the bell manually for hours." Friends of the Lighthouses

Yaquina Bay
"The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, a charming two-story clapboard structure, is located on a hill overlooking the northern side of the entrance to Yaquina Bay. It was deserted a mere three years after its light was first lit in 1871, and ever since has been the scene for many a ghostly tale. The story of the lighthouse began in 1871 when Yaquina Bay was a bustling port, the most populated along the West Coast between San Francisco and the Puget Sound. The Lighthouse Board determined there was a need for a lighthouse to guide traffic into the bay and in April 1871, 36 acres were purchased at the north entrance of the bay from Lester and Sophrina Baldwin, original homesteaders, for $500. The lighthouse was quickly built, the tower and dwelling by Ben Simpson of Newport, Oregon, the lantern room by Joseph Bien of San Francisco. Its beacon, produced by a whale oil lamp within a fifth-order Fresnel lens, shown for the first time on November 3, 1871." Friends of the Lighthouses

Yaquina Head
"Yaquina Head Lighthouse can be a spooky place on a dark, cold, windy night. Ghosts lurking, ship compasses not working. The tower, made from 370,000 bricks from San Francisco, is double walled for insulation and dampness protection. One story, which has circulated for years, tells of a workman falling from the scaffolding into the hallow between the masonry walls where his body could not be retrieved. A fine story, and perhaps an explanation for the ghost, but records show no workers were killed during construction. Strong winds did blow one worker off the cliff. Amazingly, his oils skins acted somewhat like a parachute and he only received minor injuries.  The lighting of the first order Fresnel lens was delayed due to parts of the lantern somehow being lost in transit. Finally, after almost two years of toil, the light shone for the first time on August 20, 1873."
Friends of the Lighthouses

Information for this page is from the Friends of the Lighthouse web site .  The have done a fantastic job listing all of the lighthouses in the United States, so be sure and visit their site. They have beautiful pictures and great text describing the history of each lighthouse.

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