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Oregon Coast's Only Privately-Built Lighthouse for Sale: Cleft of the Rock Near Yachats at $2 Million

Published 07/14/23 at 12:51 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Coast's Only Privately-Built Lighthouse for Sale: Cleft of the Rock Near Yachats at $2 Million

(Yachats, Oregon) – It was for years the Oregon coast's only hidden lighthouse, and the only one privately-owned that was operating. Perched high on a rocky cliff near the Devil's Churn, Cleft of the Rock was a family home that also had its own lighthouse blinking and flashing out to the sea. (Photos Realty One at the Beach)

Now, Cleft of the Rock – the home – is for sale. and Realty One Group at the Beach just released details on the wildly beautiful place which has captured the imaginations of some over the decades, though it has not done so as much as its stalwart and more frightening sibling Tillamook Rock Lighthouse near Cannon Beach / Seaside, which went up for sale last year. (Famed, 'Terrible' Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Up for Sale - N. Oregon Coast)

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This little lighthouse no longer blinks, though it did for a little longer after original owner / author James Gibbs passed way over a decade ago.

The home is a cool two million: $2,250,000 to be exact. This is the first time it's hit the market – ever. and its news service said it is 2,300 square feet, and it's been kept in absolutely immaculate condition since changing hands to a relative of Gibbs.

However, the light itself was too expensive to keep running, said listing agent Stacey Clendenin, with Newport's Realty One Group at the Beach.

She told this could be a perfect spot for a BnB of sorts, or for anyone who wanted a place well above the tsunami zone.

The light wasn't always operational, so many times it was simply a curious-looking home that visitors spotted, rounding that bend from the last hints of Yachats to the north. Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff had spotted it working several times since the '90s, and that was always a fascinating sight.

Why a lighthouse here? Gibbs had a lot of connections to all things lighthouse and maritime.

Gibbs was one of the last to serve on Tillamook Rock Lighthouse when it was decommissioned in 1957. He started keeping watch there in the '40s as part of the U.S. Coast Guard, though was not initially thrilled about the assignment. Gibbs had his eye on a lighthouse in Alaska, but later admitted not getting that one turned out to be worth it. A tsunami hit it in the late '40s and killed all those tending to the lighthouse.

Gibbs was a well-renowned author, writing the go-to guides to shipwrecks and lighthouses in the region – a much-lauded maritime historian. His book Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast is still considered by many to be the Bible on that subject matter. Consequently he's still seen on numerous YouTube videos to this day getting interviewed about his time on Terrible Tilly or other maritime matters.

He passed away in 2010.

After leaving the Coast Guard, Gibbs became a journalist for 20 years. Developing cancer, he and his wife Cherie moved to Hawaii for a time. There, he went into remission, and the couple moved to the Oregon coast in 1973.

When he settled into the Yachats area he built Cleft of the Rock in 1976, filling it with bundles of seafaring and lighthouse memorabilia, which included the lights from two famous lighthouses. Old steering wheels and other artifacts from vessels abounded.

The lighthouse itself was a working beacon for many years on and off, but it did disappear for awhile when Gibbs lent the light to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport. Its signature was ten seconds of white and ten seconds of red, and it was visible some 16 miles out off the Oregon coast. Its lens is some 110 feet above the sea.

While that was obsolete by the time of its construction, it still delighted many mariners out to sea. Fishermen who were crabbing close to Heceta Head and other small vessels appreciated the light greatly over the decades, as it helped keep them safe from these jagged shores.

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This wasn't Gibbs' first experience with building his own lighthouse. He built another on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington's Puget Sound before that. When an association took over that lighthouse, his Yachats property was the only one out of three such private lighthouses on the west coast to be operated by an individual, Gibbs told the Statesman Journal in 1993.

Cleft of the Rock was one of only a couple of homes on the coastline Oregon Coast Beach Connection would not talk about because they were private homes. The other was the Goonies house in Astoria.



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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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