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A Tale of Two Lighthouses On Oregon's Coast

Published 2005

(Oregon Coast) - They are somehow magical and go well beyond tourist attractions.They are symbols: enormous lights that shine their bright beacons towards the sea, evoking all sorts of historical images and a comforting sense of safe haven. They are beautiful architecturally, and representative of our heritage and of something spiritual.

There are several on Oregon's coast: from the tiny, homemade lighthouse near Yachats that is actually someone's residence, to the giants sitting on high cliff tops that jut hundreds of feet into the air.

Two favorites of tourists, however, lay on the Central Coast: Heceta Head Lighthouse, near Florence, and Newport's Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

Just north of Florence, in an untamed, rugged chunk of coastline, Heceta Head is a 200-foot-high basalt cliff that boasts a 56-foot-high lighted tower in white and red. The keeper's quarters sits just below, which now serves as a charming B&B.

In 1892, construction of the lighthouse began, with lumber coming from local mills and other materials from near Oregon City and from San Francisco. It kicked into life in 1894. The first-order Fresnel lens was made by Chance Brothers of London, who only manufactured two other lights in the U.S. That original lens still remains, with eight panels and 640 prisms that are two inches thick.

These days, it's still visible 21 miles out to sea.

Tours are available daily from Memorial Day Weekend through September. It is a fascinating place to visit. In spite of its sturdy construct, you can feel the tower shake during storms and high wind. It's also known as the most photographed lighthouse in the world. (541) 547-3416.

In Newport, there are two lighthouses. On the tip of three-mile-long Yaquina Head, sits the big one, standing at 93 feet tall. This one - Oregon's oldest and tallest - first lit up in 1873, sometime after the name of the headland was finally switched from Cape Foulweather (and the cape ten miles up the road received that name).

From Cape Foulweather - or from any Newport beach - it's always an engaging pleasure to sit and watch the light come around with its signature flashes and spaces between the flashes.

There are no keeper's quarters for this one. They were built in 1873, but demolished in 1984.

There are 114 steps up to the very top, which guides let you briefly peek into. The view from here is astounding as well - even if it's only for a second.

Like Heceta Head, there have been tales of hauntings for Yaquina Head's lighthouse. Purportedly, a lighthouse keeper assistant named Higgins died on a fall on the winding, twisting stairway. Thereafter, other lighthouse keepers were afraid to wander up the steps alone, should they encounter the presence of their otherworldly predecessor.

In recent years, the Bureau of Land Management - which oversees the lighthouse - received a letter from a descendant of Higgins which debunked this myth. It turns out Higgins moved to Portland and eventually became a dockworker - never dying in the lighthouse at all. Open daily from June 15 to September 15. (541) 265-3100.

In 2006, the lighthouse was quite an oddity, covered in plastic and a large scaffolding - looking a little like a the space shuttle ready for launch. At the time, it was undergoing a large-scale renovation and took about six months to open back up.

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A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
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Breathtaking high panoramic beach views from oceanfront rooms, spacious family suites & fully equipped cottages.  Known for gracious hospitality, the sparkling clean Sea Horse features a heated indoor pool, dramatic oceanfront spa, great whale watching, free deluxe continental breakfast, conference room, free casino shuttle & HBO.  Fireplaces, private decks and spas are available in select rooms.  Close to shops, golf, fishing & restaurants.  Pets are welcome in select rooms.  Senior discounts.  Kids 18 and under stay free in their parent's room.  Very attractive rates.
Lincoln City’s only resort hotel built right on the beach with all oceanfront rooms - nestled against a rugged cliffside overlooking a soft, sandy beach. Dine in penthouse restaurant and bar, for casual meal or candlelight dinner. An array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other Northwest favorites, including decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range from bedrooms to studios to 1-bedroom suites with microwaves and refrigerators to full kitchens. Also, wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise room and year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game room and easy beach access. Full-service conference/meeting rooms for that inspirational retreat; extensive wedding possibilities.


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