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Covering 160 miles of Oregon coast travel: Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.

Summer Cometh: Are you ready?

Oregon Lighthouse Still Under Wraps – For Now

Lighthouse exterior now

(Newport, Oregon) – Newport’s Yaquina Head Lighthouse looks a little different these days.

The Oregon coast tourism landmark looks a lot different, actually. Some say it looks like a missile silo. Some say it looks like the Space Shuttle ready to launch. In reality, the over 130-year-old lighthouse is undergoing its first major outside renovation in its long, illustrious life.

Joe Ashor, a manager with the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees Yaquina Head, said the work has been going on since December and is expected to be done with by the middle of July. In the meantime, the lighthouse is covered in plastic and scaffolding, creating the kooky new look, the jokes and the double takes.

Lighthouse as it normally looks

Ashor said the exterior is being repainted and chunks of the iron at the top are being replaced or refurbished. The glass surrounding the lens room is being replaced, and the tower roof and roofs of other buildings are being repainted as well.

“The ironwork at the top of the tower has deteriorated because of exposure to coastal elements,” Ashor said. “And those pieces that are too bad off to be re-welded are being created in a foundry down in Florida. The paint is being stripped off those railings and iron pieces – stripped off down to the metal they can be repainted.”

The “oil house” is also being repainted – the small building near the lighthouse which once housed the oil for the lamp.

Ashor said the lightning rod which protects the lighthouse against possible lightning strikes is being replaced too. “It wasn’t worth anything sometimes,” he said. “It wasn’t always connected like it was supposed to be.”

Work on the lighthouse tower

Workers scale the monstrosity via the scaffolding, which has been covered in plastic to protect workers and the exposed tower from the elements. The nine-foot Fresnel lens is currently covered and wrapped up tight in plastic as well, protecting it from the weather.

In the meantime, an auxiliary light which blinks on and off every three seconds has been placed there to continue assisting mariners in navigation.

Each lighthouse in the world has a distinctive blink pattern. The normal pattern for the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is one blink, two seconds of darkness, another blink, then fourteen seconds of darkness.

Weather has been a problem during the remodel, Ashor said, especially during the storms of winter. “We had to replace the plastic a few times. It would get torn pretty bad during storms. We started using parachute cloth material, in the hopes of finding something a little sturdier. But now the winter storms are pretty much over.”

Lighthouse interior, taken in 2001

Ashor said workers could usually continue working during heavy weather, but some of the stronger storms over the months meant time off for these brave souls.

Ashor said the greens and reds of the roofs are being repainted to the original color of black.

The lighthouse interior was repainted six years ago, Ashor said. The BLM expects the lighthouse to be open to tours again in July, perhaps sooner.

The BLM has retained a photographer to document all phases of this historic event. Cost for visiting Yaquina Head is $5. (503) 265-3100.


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