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Lighthouse Still Under Wraps – For Now
– Newport’s Yaquina Head Lighthouse looks a little different
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.
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.
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
on the lighthouse tower
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.
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.”
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
Ashor said the greens
and reds of the roofs are being repainted to the original color
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.