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S. Oregon Coast Lighthouse Gift Shop and Lifeboat Station Reopen: Cape Blanco

Published 09/03/21 at 6:26 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

S. Oregon Coast Lighthouse Gift Shop and Lifeboat Station Reopen: Cape Blanco

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(Port Orford, Oregon) – On the southern Oregon coast, one tourist attraction has laid mournfully low throughout the pandemic, like most in the region. Now, the Cape Blanco Lighthouse Greeting Center Gift Shop and Port Orford Lifeboat Station Museum have reopened – although the lighthouse itself has not. (Photos courtesy Cape Blanco Heritage Society)

The Lifeboat Station Museum is located at Port Orford Heads State Park and the Greeting Center Gift Shop is at Cape Blanco State Park in close proximity to the famous Oregon coast lighthouse.

Officially it opened back up Thursday just in time for the Labor Day Weekend, planning for now to be open Thursday through Saturday, hopefully adding Sunday soon. Staffing issues have been preventing that. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“At present, the lighthouse and the short road from the lighthouse gate are not open as they are both in need of repairs,” said the Cape Blanco Lighthouse Heritage Society.

Visitors will need to walk the short distance from the gate to the Greeting Center Gift Shop and can easily hike from there to view the exterior of the lighthouse.

“Despite the lighthouse being closed, a trip to the tip of Cape Blanco and the Greeting Center is a lovely day trip that offers beautiful scenery and energizing hikes on the surrounding nature trails,” they said. “Please exercise caution as the wind at the Cape is quite strong at times and your safety, as always, is our first concern.”

Normally, you could be able to visit the lighthouse's interior, which has 63 steps to its top via three flights of stairs and one ladder. However, COVID shut that down in 2020.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse is the oldest one on the Oregon coast, firing up its lens in 1870. It also holds the distinction of being on the farthest west point in Oregon, and it had the state's first woman lighthouse keeper back in 1903. It has the highest focal plane above the ocean at around 250 feet. The record for longest service of a keeper is held here as well: James Langlois was employed here for 42 years.

Originally, the first-order Fresnel lens was lit by oil lamp, finally becoming electric in the 1930s. The Oregon coast icon was built on 47.7 acres of land, with a two-family dwelling built at the time that hosted fireplaces for heat, along with a handful of other utility buildings.


Sometime just after 1911, Cape Blanco's light signature changed from a steady beam to a set of light flashes. At that time, this required a clockwork-like mechanism. This, in turn, created another job duty for light keepers: they not only had to tend to the burning lamp but also wind up the mechanism now and then.

After going electric in 1939 and being taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard, it was abandoned in 1979 for an automatic signal. The last employee of the lighthouse was in 1987 – a security person.

The light operates once again, however, using much more modern equipment.

Port Orford, Oregon. www.capeblancoheritagesociety.com. 541-253-7565. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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