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Striking Images of Oregon Coast Lights at Seaside, Bandon, Coos Bay, Newport

Published 11/07/21 at 6:29 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Striking Images of Oregon Coast Lights at Seaside, Bandon, Coos Bay, Newport

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(Newport, Oregon) – Legendary for their gracefulness and comforting sights, lighthouses around the world are revered for a number of reasons, evoking both personal beliefs and very real histories that can be intensely emotional. (Photo courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

On the Oregon coast, this is certainly true as well. If nothing else, they bring on smiles at their blinking in the night or there's simple awe. They're also some of the most interesting photographic subjects in the region.

At the northern edges of the Oregon coast, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is the mysterious feature just offshore, one that started its existence about 1880. The only way to see it now is with binoculars, but a couple of decades ago there was an airplane ride operating out of Seaside that took you flying over the stately but crusty feature.


Photo courtesy Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium

Operating until the 1950s, like all lighthouses it outlived its usefulness and was replaced by electronic means of warning mariners. But in its time it saw plenty of adventures, such as the storm that almost destroyed the lighthouse.


Photo courtesy Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium

In January of 1881, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was several weeks from being finished when a British barque called the Lupatia wrecked on Tillamook Head. But first, it narrowly missed the lighthouse island, with construction crews awakened in the middle of the night to hear the harrowing scream of “hard aport!” as this then-mystery ship slid just past the rock. Had the light been operational this wouldn't have happened.


In Newport, there are two lighthouse: Yaquina Head and Yaquina Bay. The latter only served three years of duty and was soon replaced by the taller sentinel at Yaquina Head.


Courtesy Lincoln County Historical Society

For almost 100 years, the bay lighthouse stood in disrepair and increasing structure failure, turning into a lightning rod for haunted stories. It was slowly bought up by local and regional entities, and then opened up for tours, although the light itself never shone again. See the history of the place, Landmarks and Legends of an Oregon Coast Lighthouse, Newport's Yaquina Bay, Part I.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse still blinks to this day, providing visitors to the central Oregon coast town with a glimpse of what life would've been like between 1890 and the ‘50s. You can also enter and go up to the top in certain times of the year, pandemic restrictions not withstanding.


Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

On the southern Oregon coast, the Cape Arago Lighthouse near Coos Bay has become another distant enigma. A couple of decades ago the walkway to the island upon which it stands was removed as part of the spot's return to local tribes. You can also only see it from afar now.

In its day there were actually three lighthouses on that spot, way back in 1866. The first was a rickety-looking thing, built on beams and enclosed in sheet metal. The second, built with a foundation and not far away, came in the 1890s. It was made of wood. The third, built in the 1930s, was made of concrete. Surprise History: There Were Three Cape Arago Lighthouses on S. Oregon Coast


Photo courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Down in Bandon, the Coquille River Lighthouse has captured imaginations for generations and been captured on film for at least as long, serving as a lifesaver but also as a scenic magnet along the Oregon coast.

It was brought online in 1896 in the last day of February, but the next day in March was so cold it snowed heavily. Immediately the foghorn went into use as well as the light. By the end of the decade, a major storm toppled the newly-built water tank that powered the steam fog signal, with new such accouterments being redone with concrete foundations.

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