Yaquina Head Oregon
Harbour Lights #443
For many years, this popular
lighthouse was known as Cape Foulweather. It seems the ship delivering the
materials to build the lighthouse made a geographical error and left them
at Yaquina Head. The engineer in charge of construction decided it was too
difficult to move the materials to the correct site, since there were no
roads, so he just went ahead and built the huge lighthouse.
It was several years before
the government realized that Cape Foulweather was actually located at
Yaquina Head, three miles from the mouth of Yaquina Bay. Despite the
mix-up in its beginnings, Yaquina Head is one of the most popular light
stations in the United States – attracting hundreds of thousands of
visitors each year.
The picturesque setting for
Oregon’s tallest sentinel is a narrow, rugged point that juts due west
into the Pacific Ocean, north of Newport. On August 20, 1873, head keeper
Fayette Crosby walked up the 114 steps to light the wicks for the first
time – giving mariners much-needed navigation to traverse the dangers of
Oregon’s jagged rock coast.Yaquina Head was outfitted with a First Order
Fresnel Lens and was lighted with oil wicks until 1966, when it became
fully automated. The same Fresnel lens has been in continual use from the
beginning. Sitting 162 feet above sea level, its beam can be seen for some
20 miles, emitting a unique pattern: 2-seconds on/2-seconds off/2-seconds
While the light itself is
under the care of the US Coast Guard, the Salem Bureau of Land Management
and a devoted corps of volunteers provide maintenance and tours of the
lighthouse. The much-photographed white tower with its green lantern and
red dome is the centerpiece for the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
To help raise funds for upkeep, the Bureau opened a new interpretive
center in May 1997 that houses many valuable documents, photographs and
mementoes of the sentinel’s 130-year history.
Over the decades, Yaquina Head
has been tormented with violent storms, and in 1920 it was struck by
lightning. Various forms of protection have been used over the years, and
amazingly, the lighthouse has experienced relatively little damage. In
fact, the structure is within 1-inch of being perfectly straight!
Along the romantic, rugged
Pacific Coast Highway, visitors can see eight Oregon lighthouses. But with
all these choices, Yaquina Head is by far the most visited and, indeed, is
ranked as one of the most popular light stations in the United States.
Each Harbour Lights rendition
of Yaquina Head generates a donation to maintain the lighthouse for future
generations. Yaquina Head: truly one of the Great Lighthouses of the
|Yaquina Head OR