Lighthouses of the Oregon Coast

by Wendy on September 15, 2014

Lighthouses of the Oregon Coast
courtesy of: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

Oregon’s Ocean SentinelsOregon-Coast-Lighthouses-map
Oregon’s coastal lighthouses are visible links to the past –towering monuments to Oregon’s maritime heritage and the service of its light keepers. Although most have been unoccupied since the arrival of modern technology, these classic structures remain as much a part of Oregon’s rugged coastal landscape as any land form or offshore monolith.

Built on prominent headlands or near major estuaries that supported commercial fishing and shipping, most of these stations were built between 1870 and 1896 by the US Lighthouse Board. Designed and constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard was designated the ultimate caretaker of all the properties and became the keeper of the lights.

After installing automated beacons in the 1960s, the Coast Guard began transferring its lighthouse holdings to other government agencies. The transfers prompted vigorous restoration efforts to preserve the predominantly brick towers and frame dwellings that once sheltered the light keepers.

All nine of Oregon’s surviving lighthouse stations have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Seven stations are open for public viewing and regularly scheduled summer tours. They are seen and admired by more than two and a half million visitors each year.

A Trip Back in Time
Aided by interpretive displays, historical accounts, and a little imagination, you can learn what life was like for the keepers who lit the way for mariners navigating Oregon’s perilous coastline. Climb to lantern or tower watch rooms and experience the panoramic sights once enjoyed by the light tenders from their perches high on the cliffs. Hear the sounds of seabirds, wind, and waves that accompanied their isolation as they worked through the night to prevent ships from running aground on the rocks.

Regularly scheduled tours are offered at the Cape Blanco, Umpqua River, Yaquina Bay, Coquille River, and Yaquina Head lighthouses. The Cape Meares lighthouse features a public exhibit area. For information on tour schedules, call the State Yaquina Head Lighthouse Parks Information Center at 800-551-6949.

Year-Round Recreation
Because they are situated on rocky outposts and headlands, most of Oregon’s lighthouses double as excellent wildlife viewing areas. In fact, several of them are listed as premier sites in the Oregon Wildlife Viewing Guide, a publication of the non-profit Watchable Wildlife, Inc. During late fall, winter, and early spring, the lighthouses become outstanding lookouts for whale migrations and storm watching.

If you’re touring lighthouses, you can also visit or stay at nearby state parks.
They are listed here from north to south:
Fort Stevens – 10 miles west of Astoria
Nehalem Bay – 27 miles south of Seaside
Cape Lookout – 10 miles south of Cape Meares
Devil’s Lake – located in Lincoln City
Beverly Beach – 4 miles north of Yaquina Head
South Beach – 2 miles south of Yaquina Bay
Carl G. Washburne – 2 miles north of Heceta Head
Jessie M. Honeyman – 3 miles south of Florence
Umpqua Lighthouse – 6 miles south of Reedsport
William M. Tugman – 8 miles south of Reedsport
Sunset Bay – 12 miles southwest of Coos Bay
Bullards Beach – 2 miles north of Bandon
Cape Blanco – 9 miles north of Port Orford
Humbug Mountain – 6 miles south of Port Orford
Alfred A. Loeb – 8 miles northeast of Brookings
Harris Beach – immediately north of Brookings

Lighthouse Helpers
If you’d like to learn more about Oregon’s lighthouses and help with preservation and education efforts, you will be welcomed by any of these non-profit organizations:

U.S. Lighthouse Society, Oregon Chapter
Phone: 415-362-7255

Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses
750 Lighthouse Dr #7, Newport, OR 97365
Phone: 541-574-3100

Friends of Cape Meares Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge
PO Box 262, Netarts, OR 97143
Phone: 503-842-2244

Cape Blanco Heritage Society
PO Box 1132, Port Orford, OR 97465
Phone: 541-332-0521

Coquille River Lighthouse Keepers Foundation Inc.
PO Box 21, Bandon, OR 97411

Oregon State Parks Foundation – Oregon Lighthouse Campaign
888 SW Fifth Ave Ste 1600, Portland, OR 97204
Phone: 503-802-5750

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