Lighthouses offer a unique glimpse into Oregon’s past and emphasize the importance of the sea for West Coast residents. They guided mariners along Oregon’s steep and scenic coastline and were very important, because protected harbors are very scarce.
These towering lighthouses perched on spectacular headlands, saved souls and marked the boundary between sea and land. Each is a distinct marker that tells tales about the lifestyle and residents of the area, and Oregon abounds with them.
Twelve lighthouses dot the Oregon Coastline and a lightship rests in Astoria. Two of these were privately built and remain closed to the public. However, seven are open to the public and most are still active.
This lighthouse tower is the tallest on the Oregon Coast. At 93 feet tall, it warned vessels from as far away as 19 miles of coastal dangers. Resting on a basalt headland within the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, this spectacular lighthouse also offers views of gray whales, harbor seals, and migratory birds.
Two boats met their demise transporting supplies during construction. Three keepers manned the station and in 1873, the lighthouse was finally lit. It weathered strong coastal winds, but in 1920 lighting struck it. Nonetheless, this sturdy lighthouse persevered and you can wind up the circular stairs to see the massive lens and 1000 watt bulb to enjoy a panoramic view of coastal Newport.
This lighthouse had to fight for existence. It was only used for three years, and almost demolished several times. Originally, it guided settlers to the growing Yaquina Bay and the Newport area. It is unusual, because it looks more like a house with a light tower on the roof.
From the onset, the lighthouse seemed plagued with problems. Residents argued over a location and it was finally built and lit in 1871. By 1874, the light was out and the lighthouse abandoned, favoring Yaquina Head.
The eerie vacant structure sparked a fictional short story published in 1899 of a sea captain’s daughter never seen again after entering the abandoned lighthouse. Even though the story was fictional, a 1975 article stirred up notions that a ghost may be haunting the lighthouse. The article recounted a story of a young hitchhiker who stayed a night in the abandoned lighthouse. He claimed he saw a young woman floating outside one of the windows.
Fortunately, the lighthouse was fully restored. The lower area offers a fascinating look at Oregon’s maritime past and memorabilia, but the lantern room isn’t open to the public. The lighthouse is on the southern end of Newport, near the Yaquina Bay Bridge and entrance is by donation.
If you want a spectacular view of the Pacific, visit Heceta Head. It is a state scenic viewpoint perched on a rocky promontory in a cove at the mouth of Cape Creek, and the most photographed lighthouse on the Pacific Coast.
Built in 1894, this towering lighthouse housed families in a very isolated area. It once had a keeper’s house too, but it was later demolished. Its claim to fame was its role during World War II. The Coast Guard sent 75 men to guard the area against Japanese attacks. It is the most powerful lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, it is still active, and it shines 22 miles out to sea.
Lighthouse tours are available 7 days a week. Heceta Head Lighthouse is above the Sea Lion Caves, also worth visiting. You’ll find it 12 miles north of Florence, off Highway 101. For comfortable, affordable condominium accommodation in the area, check our Depoe Bay fully-equipped condos here.