Thursday, June 28, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 357

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, Oregon, ca 1871

The photograph on this postcard comes from the Newport Historical Society of Oregon and is dated about 1871.  The card was published by Natural Design Photography of Medford, Oregon and purchased from a gift shop.  Built in 1870 by Ben Simpson, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was only in operation for 3 years before the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, 3 miles north, replaced it in 1873.  It was officially decommissioned in 1874.  The fifth-order Fresnel lens was then moved and installed in the Yerba Buena Lighthouse in California in 1875.

We visited several lighthouses on the return trip from the Redwood National & State Parks.  All the other lighthouses in Oregon have a separate building for living quarters; however, this one is a four-bedroom house with a light tower.   The keeper and his family lived in the house during the three years it was in operation.  It may also be the only lighthouse that is supposed to be haunted.  A young woman named Muriel, mysteriously died there in 1875 and is said to haunt the building. 

From 1888 to 1896 the United States Army Corps of Engineers used the lighthouse as living quarters while they built the North and South Jetties at the mouth of Yaquina Bay.  Later, from 1906 to 1915, the United States Coast Guard used the lighthouse as a lookout and living quarters before moving to more central quarters overlooking Newport bay.  

The tower and lighthouse as seen from the visitors parking lot

During the time the Coast Guard used the facility they built an eight-story steel observation tower that still exists next to the lighthouse.  The Oregon Highway Division purchased the property around the lighthouse and established a state park that included the lighthouse, the observation tower, and several acres of surrounding land. 

By 1946 the lighthouse was in a dilapidated condition and due to be demolished; however, the newly formed Lincoln County Historical Society managed to save it by raising enough funds to delay the demolition.   It was slated for demolition again in 1951 but the efforts of L.E. Warford of the Historical Society led to the lighthouse being recognized as a historical site.  It was a county museum until 1970.  Ownership was transferred to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department in 1974.  Today the restored lighthouse is open for public viewing and has daily tours. 

The outside of the lighthouse as it looks today

The French physicist, Augustin-Jean Fresnel developed a special type of compact lens for lighthouses.  Fresnel lenses are thinner than a conventional lens and can also capture more light from the source making the light visible over greater distances.  In 1823 the first Fresnel lens was used in the Cordouan lighthouse located at the mouth of the Gironde estuary in France and could be seen a distance of 20 miles or 32 kilometers away.  A fifth order Fresnel lens, such as the one used at Yaquina Bay, would not have been as powerful.

For additional information, see:

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Redwood National & State Parks, 2018, part 3, Lighthouses

Apologies are perhaps needed for the length of this but it seemed better to group all the lighthouses together instead of splitting this into multiple posts.  We tried to see, or take pictures of,  as many as possible of the lighthouses, or Lights as they are sometimes referred to, along the Pacific coast from northern California to southern Washington.

1.    Batttery Point Light

Crescent City offered the closest on the beach lodging that also was close to the Redwood National & State Parks. The Battery Point Light, on the hilly islet seen in the distance that is connected to the mainland by an isthmus, was not far from where we stayed.  It is open for tours but can only be reached at low tide. 

Tide coming in and covering part of the road up to the Battery Point Lighthouse

The picture shows the water covering part of the road up to the lighthouse.  When we arrived the tide was already coming in and several people who had been out at the lighthouse came sprinting back through the water getting their shoes and pants wet as the water by that time was coming in fairly fast.  We were too late to go out but took some pictures from the parking lot.  This is also the spot where we encountered the California ground squirrels.  

The lighthouse is located on the hill seen connected to the mainland by a causeway

Battery Point Light is listed on the National Register of Historic places and is sometimes called the Crescent City Lighthouse.  The first year of operation was 1856 making it one of the first lighthouses on the California coast.  It had a fourth-order Fresnel lens that was replaced by a modern 14.8 inch when the lighthouse became automated in 1953.   Following the Alaskan earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 1964 the light was switched off and a flashing light at the end of the nearby breakwater served as the navigational aid.  But the light was lit again in 1982 and is used as a private aid to navigation.  Inside is a museum that includes the keeper’s quarters with period furniture, photographs, and artifacts.  Unlike some of the other lighthouses it is possible to climb into the light tower on the tour.

2.    Cape Blanco Light

It took three years to complete construction on the Cape Blanco lighthouse that was first lit in 1870 and is the oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon coast.  It is open to the public but we arrived too early and did not take the tour.  It is located on a cliff 245 feet above the ocean and has a 59-foot tower.   Off shore reefs and islands that were dangerous to maritime commerce were the reasons for a lighthouse here.

The lighthouse as seen from the parking area

The rocky sea coast near the lighthouse

3.    Coquille River Light

Built in 1896 and formerly called the Bandon Light the Coquille River Light is located in Bullards Beach State Park.  This is a very popular beach and when we arrived there were already several school buses and hordes of school children on the beach for what must have been an end of the year field trip.  This lighthouse was used from 1896 to 1939, restoration began in 1976, and a new solar powered light was installed in 1991.  There have been further restorations.  Originally the lighthouse had a Daboll trumpet foghorn that was powered by a coal-fired hot air engine but it was ineffective during some weather conditions so a more reliable fog siren replaced it. 

4.    Umpqua River Light

Like several of the other lighthouses this one had a placard providing information.  The first lighthouse here was built in 1855 but seasonal flooding and erosion led to the structure's collapse.  This is the second lighthouse and was built in 1894.  It was automated in 1966.  Tours are available and there is an adjacent Coastal History Museum with exhibits featuring local history and U.S. Coast Guard history on the Umpqua River.  There is a viewing platform that provides views of the river and also the Oregon Dunes.

Oregon Dunes

5.    Heceta Head Light

The picture of the Heceta Head Light was taken from the Sea Lion Caves viewpoint.  It was built in 1892 and lit in 1894.  Recent restoration has returned the lighthouse as much as possible to the way it would have looked in 1894.  

Keeper's house as seen from the parking lot

The assistant keeper’s house has been used as a bed and breakfast.  It also has daily tours during the summer.   We paid the fee to park and ate out lunch there but we didn’t walk up to the lighthouse as it would have taken about 1 ½ hours and we still had a long way to go that day.

6.    Yaquina Bay Light

One of the few lighthouses with living quarters in the same building as the tower the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is near Newport, Oregon.  I was able to find a vintage photo postcard so there will be a postcard Thursday with more information about it.  It has been set up like a museum and we were able to see the interior rooms where the keeper’s family lived but the final stairway (a ladder) was not open to visitors.  It was only used for three years because the Yaquina Head Lighthouse built in 1873 replaced it.

7.    Yaquina Head Light

Also known as Cape Foulweather Lighthouse the Yaquina Head Light has the tallest, 93 foot or 28 meter tall, tower in Oregon.  It was first lit in 1873 and automated in 1966.  It is situated on a point and has viewing spots on the seaward sides.  We saw a rock in the sea covered in nesting Murres and also a grey whale while there.    The living quarters were nearby but not attached to the lighthouse and its adjoining oil house.  Yaquina Head Light usually had a three keepers; the Head Keeper and his family and the First assistant keeper would live in the two story house.  The Second assistant was typically a bachelor.  Congress established the grounds near the lighthouse as an Outstanding Natural Area in 1980.  This lighthouse is still active.

8.    Cape Meares Light

The Cape Meares lighthouse was deactivated in 1963 when a newer tower replaced it.  It is open a few hours and has a small gift shop.  It was built in 1890 with a tower 38 feet or 12 meters tall.  We parked at the top and walked down to the lighthouse.  While at the lighthouse we met a woman who told us that keeper’s house and the light in the tower had been severely vandalized and now it was no longer possible to tour the inside, only the gift shop was open.  The light was restored and three of the four missing bulls-eye lenses have been recovered.  The original light was visible for 21 miles, and produced alternating red and white beams as the light turned.  This structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

9.    Tillamook Rock Light

First built in 1881 the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was deactivated in 1957.  It is located about 1.2 miles off Tillamook Head, Oregon.  Today it is privately owned and at one time functioned as a columbarium.  We viewed it from Ecola State Park.  Subject to erratic conditions and a dangerous commute for the keepers and suppliers it earned the nickname of Terrible Tilly (Tillie).  Storms have damaged the lighthouse, shattered the lens, and eroded the rock. 

10.    Cape Disappointment Light, Washington

View looking out from by the lighthouse

Visitor Interpretive Center

The last lighthouse we stopped to see was the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse in Washington.  On a hot day this was a longer than anticipated walk that also turned out to be somewhat steep.  There is a newer visitor center not too far from the lighthouse that we also walked to.  Countless ships were wrecked off this cape.  In January 1853 three ships were wrecked in one week.  Even a ship carrying the lens for the lighthouse was wrecked here.  Before the light was installed a white flag would be hung out during the day and bon fires lit at night to alert the ships at sea.  The lighthouse was constructed in 1856 and electrified in 1937.  The fog bell sometimes could not be heard over the roar of the surf so it was moved to another facility.  Slated for closure by the Coast Guard in 1956 the Cape Disappointment Light was kept operational when Columbia River bar pilots protested.  The light was automated in 1973 and an observation deck was built so that the Coast Guard can monitor traffic and bar conditions. 

For additional information about these lighthouses, see:  [The Oregon State Parks, pamphlet with a map showing the locations of the lighthouses, photos and brief information including tours and fees.]
The Lighthouse Encyclopedia, the definitive reference by Ray Jones, Globe Press, 2004
Lighthouses of Washington by Bruce Roberts and Ray Jones, Insiders’ Guide, 2006
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse by Brian R. Ratty, Sunset Lake Publishing, 2018

Thursday, June 21, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 356

Leather postcard, ca 1908

What makes this postcard so interesting is not the subject matter but the material on which the card is printed.  This is a leather postcard.  Cards like this were novelty cards first introduced in 1903 and discontinued by 1909.  Most often they had cartoons or other artwork burned into the leather.  This one just has a simple greeting. 

Leather cards were popular with tourists.  Most were made from deer hide and could be stitched together with rawhide to make pillow covers or wall hangings.  Some of the pictures on leather cards featured famous people, including U.S. Presidents, local scenery, comical designs and pictures.  Some of these artworks were also hand colored but most others like this one were just burned letters or images.  There were several publishers of this type of card and some even allowed purchasers to add their own pictures or wording on the front. 

In 1907 the U.S. Postal Service banned the leather cards because they jammed the postage-canceling machines.  Even so some cards were still made and mailed until as late as 1909.



As mentioned previously, the Lees had friends who sent lots of postcards from all over the globe.  Somehow many of these old cards have survived the years. The sender has put I.C. Lee’s name on the top line and the return address on the next two lines with the date of December 22 but this card was mailed within an envelope and there is no stamp.  It makes me think it was sent after 1907 but by 1909 when the cards were no longer printed or available for purchase.

For more information, see:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 355

Tower of London, Inner Ward and Bell Tower, ca early 1900s

The company of Léon & Lévy was one of the most important producers of photograph postcards in France.  Headquartered in Paris, they specialized in postcards like this one and stereoscopic views of locations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.  The stereoscopic cards featured two images that when looked at with a special viewer, similar to a more modern View Master, created a 3-D picture. Founded in 1864 by Isaac Lévy and his son-in-law, Moyse Léon, their trademark is seen on the card above as LL.  The cards were all numbered and it is possible to estimate the date by the number.  Since this card is 312 and the card numbers go into the thousands, it is probably from the early 1900s. 

Officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, it is most often called The Tower of London.  The Inner Ward, shown on the card, was built in the 1190s.  The castle covers 12 acres and the Tower Liberties an additional 6 acres.  Since 1988 it has been an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Sections of the complex have been used as an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, housed the Royal Mint, a public record office, home of the Crown Jewels of England and a prison.

During the reign of Richard the Lionheart a moat was dug to the west of the innermost ward nearly doubling the castle size.  Henry III had the east and north walls constructed.  Most of Henry’s work has survived until today with only two of nine towers rebuilt.  The towers provided a way to defend the castle from a potential enemy attack.  Many of the towers have names that reflect other uses, such as the Bell Tower that houses a belfry so alarms could be sounded in the event of an attack.  The Bowyer Tower was where the royal bow-maker had his workshop and made longbows, crossbows, catapults and other hand weapons.  The Lanthorn Tower had a beacon light for night travelers.  The Bloody Tower is where the two young princes, Richard and Edward were held captive and later murdered. 

Today the Tower of London is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United Kingdom.  Historically it was besieged several times and had a reputation as a place of terror and torture; although, only 7 people were executed there before World War I and World War II when 12 people were executed for espionage.  Most executions took place on Tower Hill rather than within the Tower itself. 

For additional information, see:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Redwood National & State Parks, 2018, part 2, animals & birds

Sign welcoming us to Elk Prairie--there really are elk there!

One of our Happy Hiker friends said she liked the photos in the blog but would really like “more animal pictures, more animals.”  On our recent trip to the Redwoods we did see some animals so I can share.  Animals and birds do not stand still very long making it difficult to get good pictures especially if they are shy of humans.  My new little camera has some quirks and it is taking a long while for me to figure out how to use the macro lens to take flower pictures but the telephoto lens is great for animal shots since I can be far enough away not to scare them.

 California ground squirrels--cousins to marmots and rock chucks

The Crescent City, Battery Point Lighthouse parking lot was near a colony of California ground squirrels.   A few of them held still long enough to get some photos.  These squirrels look different from the ones we have in our trees.  These guys have pretty spotted coats.  We found the entrance to their underground home but all the ones we saw were above ground munching on plants or seeds.


We saw several shore birds like these Whimbrels with their curved beaks poking around in the sand for tidbits to eat.

This is a Black Oyster Catcher who posed for photos.  I had previously seen one in Norway and didn’t know what it was; now we know they are here too.

A bright blue Steller’s Jay held still for a few seconds and then turned his back, but the back shows the pretty pattern on his feathers so I didn’t mind the snub. 

Chipmunks move so fast it hard to catch them but this little guy was cooperative too. 

Almost all the male elk were in the grass with just their heads and antlers showing

 The females and young elk were in another section of the prairie

Baby elk hiding in the grass

We also saw two herds of elk; males in one group the females and young in another.  The grass was tall in the meadows and the young elk were almost invisible. 

 These silly sea gulls were playing a game. 

We encountered many small freshwater streams flowing into the ocean on almost all the 13 beaches we walked.  This fast moving, slightly deeper stream of fresh water provided entertainment for gulls.  The gulls would walk up on the sandy beach until they reached the deepest, fastest, running water then jump in and be carried down the stream a short distance before hopping out, walking back up and jumping back into the stream.  We watched them for several minutes.  They seemed to be having a wonderful time.

 A jumbled mass of sea lions on the rocks below the observation area. 

The bull sea lions spent a lot of time and energy roaring at one another and occasionally lunging at the opponent

Inside the cave area.  This is where the Steller sea lions congregate in the winter

A stop at the Oregon Sea Lion Caves tested the telephoto.  The larger Steller sea lions are found there.  We were informed that this is the breeding season and the sea lions spend the days on the rocks outside the caves.  In the winter they are inside.  Even though the sea lions were down below us about 100 yards from the viewing platform we had no trouble hearing their loud vocalizations or smelling them.  They are very stinky.  A little more about the sea lions will be coming in a future postcard Thursday.

These California sea lions are slightly smaller than the Steller sea lions at the caves.  Instead of gathering on the rocks they seem to prefer the sandy beach. 

We drove less than ½ a mile from the sea lion caves to a viewing area along Highway 101 and saw a colony of the smaller California sea lions on the beach below.  There were equally noisy but fortunately for us we were just far enough away not to smell them.

 The birds on this rock out in the sea were far away but appeared to be the black & white Common Murres

At the Yaquina Head lighthouse we saw not only the lighthouse but felt like we stepped into a National Geographic special when we looked out and saw a big rock covered with birds.  We also saw a grey whale spouting three times and once just a glance of part of him as he went back under the water.  Sadly it all happened so quickly we did not get a photo.  

We also visited the Prehistoric Gardens.  I don’t know if this counts as animals or not but it was fun.  All the dinosaurs are placed in the forest and although they are obviously not alive they are life sized.