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

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