Sunday, May 5, 2019

DESTINATION: Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport, Oregon

After a good night's sleep at the Hallmark in Newport, Oregon, we decided to kick off our day with a stop at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.  

There are two lighthouses in Newport:  The Yaquina Head Lighthouse sitting on the north end of Newport within the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse sitting on a bluff overlooking the mouth of the Yaquina River.  We've provided information and links to each lighthouse below.


The 93 foot tower is located on a narrow point of land jutting due west nearly 1 mile into the Pacific Ocean north of Newport, at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.


Winds and rain have buffeted this lighthouse since its beginning in 1872. It took approximately one year, and over 370,000 bricks to construct Oregon’s tallest lighthouse.
The light has been active since Head Keeper Fayette Crosby walked up the 114 steps, to light the wicks on the evening of August 20, 1873. At that time the oil burning fixed white light was displayed from sunset to sunrise. Today, the fully automated first order Fresnel lens runs on commercial power and flashes its unique pattern of 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 14 seconds off, 24 hours a day. The oil burning wicks have been replaced with a 1000 watt globe.


North of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse




Panoramic view


Seabirds nest among the rock formations

Common Murre flying/taking seaweed and moss to build nest


Door to lighthouse

The nightly vigil of watching the light is gone as are the resident keepers and their quarters, but the staff of the Bureau of Land Management, who are now responsible for the tower,will guide you through the lighthouse with tales of yesteryear.  We did not tour the lighthouse but did stop in the beautiful interpretive center to learn about the history of the lighthouse and the area.  We drove up to the lighthouse parking lot and roamed around the outside of the lighthouse.  The harsh May winds at the head were cold and uninviting so we drove back down to the interpretive center and took a walk to the south side of the building.
Walking tunnel under the road, south of the interpretive center

From the top of the bluff on the south side of the interpretive center, view of secluded beach


Harbor seals hunting around the rocks on the south side of Yaquina Head

Harbor seals hunting around the rocks on the south side of Yaquina Head

A piece of Oregon history sits atop a bluff at the mouth of the Yaquina River. It is the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, built in 1871 and decommissioned in 1874. It was officially restored as a privately maintained aid to navigation on December 7, 1996.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

It is believed to be the oldest structure in Newport. It is also the only existing Oregon lighthouse with the living quarters attached, and the only historic wooden Oregon lighthouse still standing. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Although all information about this lighthouse suggested it had been restored and was open to the public we found the lighthouse windows boarded up so we did not attempt to enter.

History lesson at Yaquina Bay

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse sits on top of a bluff overlooking the mouth of the Yaquina River

The structure is accessible via paved trails and a walkway that leads to the top of the hill within the Yaquina Bay State Park, at the north end of Yaquina Bay. Access-compromised visitor groups are encouraged to use the large parking lot at the back of the lighthouse (entrance at SW Government and 9th Streets).
The next stop on our Oregon Coast tour had us at Depoe Bay!

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