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Three S. Oregon Coast Historic Sites, Including Lighthouse, On Hold for a Year

Published 03/10/21 at 4:20 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Historic Sights Including Lighthouse Remain Closed for a Year on S. Oregon Coast

(Port Orford, Oregon) – COVID-19 continues to dampen tourism on the Oregon coast, even with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) reopening the vast majority of its facilities. Three indoor historic sites will remain closed at least until April of 2022. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) made the announcement this week that the Hughes House, Cape Blanco Lighthouse and the Port Orford Lifeboat Station Museum will stay shuttered. (Photo courtesy OPRD)

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Cape Blanco State Park contains the Hughes House and the lighthouse, with both being closed to tours. The Port Orford Lifeboat Station Museum is at Port Orford Heads State Park.

However, the outdoor areas surrounding all three spots will remain open to the public.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and due to the current uncertainty, we and our partners decided to keep these facilities closed,” said Casey Nielsen, who manages both parks. “All the staff, volunteers and partners are looking forward to a time when we can safely reopen these interpretative locations and share the rich history in Curry County."

All three were closed on March 23 of last year, when the virus first hit the state. Statewide health guidelines also caused OPRD to keep meeting halls, museums and other indoor facilities closed. The majority of historical museums throughout the state are still shuttered as well, with the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria being the only one open on the Oregon coast.

OPRD said visitors must still follow health protocols in state parks, which includes washing your hands often, wearing face masks, limiting the size of gatherings and giving space to others. For more information on what to expect while visiting state parks during the pandemic, visit the COVID-19 FAQ page.

The Hughes House and Lifeboat Station Museum are operated in partnership between OPRD and the Cape Blanco Heritage Society. OPRD operates the Cape Blanco Lighthouse in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Cape Blanco Heritage Society, Coquille Indian Tribe, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and Curry County.

The Cape Blanco Lighthouse began construction in 1869, with all bricks being made locally instead of being shipped from elsewhere, as had been done with other Oregon coast lighthouses. This saved enormous amounts of money because in most cases bricks had to be brought up from San Francisco.

Other construction supplies came from elsewhere, and as with many Oregon coast lighthouses they had to be hoisted up from the surf via one kind of mechanism or another. The initial shipment was partially unloaded in May of 1870 when a storm lashed the vessel to the rocks, spilling the remainder of the materials. A second supply run happened in June of that year, and finally in December the lighthouse went into operation.

If you are interested in volunteering, you can contact the Cape Blanco Management Office at 541-332-6674 or the Cape Blanco Heritage Society at 541-332-0521.

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