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S. Oregon Coast Lighthouse Behind a Curtain: Cape Blanco Temporary Lamp, Gift Shop, Weather Reports

Published 4/17/24 at 5:15 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Port Orford, Oregon) – [Historical Updates] -- If you've been around the south Oregon coast's Cape Blanco Lighthouse lately and thought something looked different, you're right. There's something a little off about that light that flashes 1.8 seconds every 18.2 seconds. Yes, it's still firing off with that timing, but there's a different, temporary light source for a time. (Above: courtesy photo. Temporary light in the front with the regular lamp behind the curtain for now)

And there's a curtain.

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The motor for the regular – and historic – lamp is set aside, waiting to be repaired, as other changes go on around the beacon, including the opening of the gift shop and some unique weather reports coming out of the Port Orford-area landmark.

According to Cape Blanco Historical Society (CBHS) executive director Rebecca Malamud-Evans, visitors will notice a giant curtain behind the 360-degree tower of the lighthouse. The old lamp is still back there, but the temp light source is now is the one you see out front.

It's still the same lens apparatus that's been there since '30s (parts of it were vandalized once), but the lamp itself is temporarily down for the count because the motor that turns it started to show issues. It's now waiting for repairs while there's a temporary new light inside the beacon. The curtain is there to protect the fragile lens from daylight, which tends to heat up the glass when it's not turning around.

“The motor is the problem (the lens is functional but if it is not turning it has to be shrouded in order to protect it from the heat of the midday sun,” Malamud-Evans told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “When stationary, the fresnel optics would produce heat that could damage the lens or the lamp room. It just wore out after many years of use. The US Coast Guard installed a new motor in July 2023. However the replacement motor ran hot and made loud grinding noises. After a couple of attempts to adjust it, the decision was made to pull the curtain, shut it down and install a temporary light. This light can be seen at night from the Pacific Ocean and is an aid to navigation.”

Old motor before 2023, courtesy photo

It's easy to see why these old lighthouses needed keepers.

Malamud-Evans said they don't yet know when the motor will be fixed and everything goes back in place, but in the meantime the tower is still illuminating.

The gift shop at the lighthouse has opened back up with some new outstanding features, and the historic Hughes House opens soon, going May 1 through September 30, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The shop helps support the lighthouse and its restoration. (How to donate to them)

“We are having an art exhibit out at the Greeting Center Gift Shop featuring work by artists who want to help save the Cape Blanco Lighthouse,” Malamud-Evans said. “We have an exhibit featuring artifacts from the lighthouse workroom as well as Living History Movies created by the Cape Blanco Heritage Society in support of our beloved lighthouse.”

This year, they're hoping to have a second Lighthouse Day event as they did last year, and maybe a special Night Sky photography event in the fall.

Also of note in the Seriously Cool Department: Cape Blanco Lighthouse has set up its own amateur weather station. The cape is a weird one when it comes to weather, and they've found it's different there in real life than weather reports show.

“Our docents update daily when they open the shop for the day. We have hand-held anemometers (devices that measure wind), a sensor for temperature and humidity, and a rain gauge,” she said. “I have always found the local weather reports not entirely accurate as to what is happening at Cape Blanco. Conditions can be very different out there.” MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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New motor as of 2023

Courtesy CBHS

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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