New Leaves

Art enjoys his coffee at the Yaquina Bay lighthouse

Brookings, OR

Oregon Lighthouses

Sep 15, 2013 by Bonnie

While exploring the Oregon coast, we made it a goal to visit all nine of the historic lighthouses on the Oregon coast—and we did it!

One thing we noticed was that at each lighthouse where we took a tour, there was something unique about the lens, or the age of the light, or the type of construction, that the staff proudly shared with us. No two were alike, but they all performed the same function—to alert ocean-going vessels to the location of the safe harbor. Each had its own “light signature” or pattern of flashes, so that the crews could know for sure which light they were seeing.

Cape Meares
Built in 1890, the Cape Meares Lighthouse has a first order fresnel lens that shines out 24 miles
Yaquina Head
Yaquina Head Lighthouse, the tallest in the world, built in in 1873 with a first order fresnel lens thaty shines out 21 miles
Tillamook Rock
Tillamook Rock, the most challenging lighthouse on the coast

Keepers of the light, no matter how convenient the arrangements, had responsibilities and a work schedule that exposed them to many dangers. Many had families who lived with them at their posts, and the work was hard on their wives as well. Loneliness and isolation were common problems. The elements took their toll on the hardiest of men. For example, duty at the Tillamook Light, which sits 1.2 miles off shore, was considered especially difficult due to the isolation from civilization, and the severe weather conditions. The light was nicknamed “Terrible Tilly,“ for the stormy conditions of its location. Throughout its history, the area was hit by large, violent storms that damaged the lighthouse with large waves, winds, and debris, and on several occasions, the tower was flooded, after the lantern room windows were broken by large debris. They even had to cement up the lower windows and replace them with port holes. Some men were injured just trying to change shifts or deliver supplies, coming in small boats out to the treacherous rocks.

Yaquina Bay
Art prepares breakfast in front of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
Heceta Head
Art and Flat pay a visit to Haceta Head Lighthouse
Umpqua River

Other posts were more comfortable, with spacious accommodations for the keepers (There were usually three—Head Lightkeeper, 1st Assistant, and 2nd Assistant). But always it was challenging work, and not a job for the faint of heart.

Cape Arago
Built in 1866, the Cape Arago Lighthouse has a 4th order fresnel lens that shines out 16 miles
Coquille River
Coquille River Lighthouse, built in 1896 with a 4th order fresnel lens, puts out the warning light to a distance of 14 miles

Christians are ”keepers of the light“ too, and it is not always an easy job. Unlike the ship’s captains, most people today do not realize their peril, and are not watching for the light.—”Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.“ But even so, we are to shine a faithful light. As Jesus said, ”Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.“ We are not to serve Him for our own glory, but so that others may look to Him, Who is the only true light. That is our prayer.

Cape Blanco
Bonnie and Flat in front of Cape Blanco Lighthouse