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Famed, 'Terrible' Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Up for Sale - N. Oregon Coast

Published 03/30/22 at 4:35 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Famed, 'Terrible' Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Up for Sale - N. Oregon Coast

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(Seaside, Oregon) – For a mere $6.5 million, you could own a famous Oregon coast lighthouse (photo copyright Oregon Coast Beach Connection).

Of course, it's utterly remote, it's technically a wildlife reserve so you can't regularly visit, and it's only used to house urns of deceased people's ashes.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, otherwise known as Terrible Tilly, is the 141-year-old specter-like landmark way offshore from Cannon Beach and Seaside, having shutdown as a lighthouse back in 1957. Back then, author James Gibbs was one of the last crew to man the lighthouse, and he went on to create one of his own near Yachats – atop his private home.

Tilly is also privately owned by Mimi Morissette, who picked up the place in the late '70s and turned it into a columbarium, a place to house ashes of the dead. That operation hit numerous snags over the decades, and now at age 77, she has put it up for sale, according to various regional media in the Pacific Northwest.

According to Astoria radio station KMUN and Portland's The Oregonian, she's decided to let someone else take the reigns of this elusive Oregon coast landmark. Only around 30 people were interred there since 1980, and it well may find that use again in its next incarnation as Morisette has been in contact with similar businesses about the sale.

Eternity at Sea Combarium has been the name of the business since it took over Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, finding trouble by the end of the '80s. According to regional media outlets, they soon discovered the metal used for the urns did not fare well in the salty and rough Oregon coast seas. By 1999, the firm lost its operating license and was unable to acquire a new one.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is part of the rock islands offshore that are under the protection of US Fish and Wildlife, essentially a reserve for various birds and the sea lions that haul out there. Although it can be bought and acquired by new owners, the place is basically off limits except only at various points in the year because of conservation laws. Even then, the only vaguely safe way on or off the lighthouse island is by helicopter.

Late in the 2010s, Oregon Coast Beach Connection learned of a photographer who had landed on the area, apparently with the owners. Initially, when contact was made with him by Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff, he was willing to talk about the experience and why the helicopter was there. He quickly cut off contact and his social media posts of the visit disappeared.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff had the opportunity to fly over the lighthouse in 2007 and photograph it from above.

Terrible Tilly was an apt name for the ancient sentinel, beginning with its initial construction. Reports have differed whether people were killed there or not, but what is known for certain is that workers helping to build it way back in the 1870s were sequestered on the south Washington coast while waiting for their round of shifts. The construction companies involved did not want the workers to read regional newspapers and find out about the rock structure's dangerous reputation and the constant stream of incidents injuring crewmembers.

During the course of the lighthouse's run, dramatic stories of massive storm waves washing over the building were many, including some that severely damaged the lighthouse. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Photos below courtesy Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium

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