Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Tales from an Oregon Coast Lighthouse: Aloof Terrible Tilly

Published 08/31/21 at 6:26 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Tales from an Oregon Coast Lighthouse: Aloof Terrible Tilly

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; major specials now that winter is here
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
major specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Winter's enticing specials now
In Lincoln City:
Major winter specials now
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
major specials this season
In Newport:
Look for many specials
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials and tempting prices now
In Yachats, Florence
Big deals available; lodgings not listed anywhere else
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – An aloof and even cryptic attraction on the Oregon coast is the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse between Cannon Beach and Seaside. Sitting almost a mile offshore, you can never actually get there, and thus it's a mystery that loads the imagination with possibilities. It's even generated its own legends.

Yet truth is wilder than the make-believe and the paranormal rumors, giving glimpses into how times were lived back then and the adventures of living on a lighthouse so isolated.

All this began just before the 1880s as construction started on this north Oregon coast icon, after initial plans were scrapped to build a lighthouse on top of Tillamook Head. That spot was deemed too foggy, too often, so Oregon officials looked to the rock offshore, which local tribes said was haunted by bad spirits.

A 38-year-old Portland man was among the first to set foot on the rock with the initial group of surveyors, but he slipped on the wet rock getting off the boat and drowned in the sea. A public outcry ensued with many saying this was not worth the dangers.

For at least two years construction crews worked in ungodly conditions to build it and blast the top, constantly battered by sea water, living in tents deeply bolted into the rock yet still too flimsy for this oceanic chaos. They lived in rotating shifts on this basalt blob, often sequestered on the south Washington coast or even in a boat off Seaside so that they could not hear news of what injuries took place on the site.


Tillamook Rock LIghthouse in the '70s - courtesy Jim Furnish family

Transporting to and from the rock was a rickety affair, using a giant winch and a thing called a breeches buoy – basically a big pair of pants encircled by a flotation ring. Nobody died doing this, but plenty were injured.

In early 1881, just before construction was over, on one dark and rather unsettling night the workers thought they heard voices. Suddenly, a ship called the Lupatia appeared out of the fog, making a beeline for the rock. Crews were able to use lanterns to warn them away. However, the ship slammed into Tillamook Head, killing all.

Jim Gibbs, famed author, served on the lighthouse for a time. His first night he had a spooky encounter as he heard what sounded like feet shuffling in the dark. Then suddenly something brushed past his face. Gibbs managed to bolt upright, arms swinging wildly and hit the light, only to discover the intruder was a bird with an injured wing that had come in through the open window. [Also see Oregon Coast History: Storm That Nearly Destroyed a Lighthouse]

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1957, with the last keeper, Oswald Allik, proclaiming “I return thee to the elements.” MORE PHOTOS BELOW

Hotels in Seaside - Where to eat - Seaside Maps and Virtual Tours

Hotels in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Cannon Beach Maps and Virtual Tours


MORE PHOTOS BELOW





Tillamook Rock LIghthouse in the '70s - courtesy Jim Furnish family

Above and below courtesy Seaside Aquarium




More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....


Coastal Spotlight


LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Hordes of Flying Carpenter Ants Along Oregon Coast
They're the breeders of the colonies, getting blown by east winds. Sciences, south coast
Beware of Bears on Oregon Coast Due to Late Berry Crops, Say Officials
Spotting a bear on the coast may become uncomfortably easy. Sciences
Oregon Coast Aquarium Adds Some Attractions, Means for Play
Nature Play Area, Outdoor Amphitheater and a new feature called the headwaters. Newport, kids
Curtis Salgado, Blues Artist Who Inspired Belushi, Returns to Central Oregon ...
One of the Pacific Northwest's more powerful musical treasures July 15
Cool Coves on Oregon Coast at Brookings, Seaside, Yachats, Coos Bay
There's more beneath their surface, and other layers to check out. South Coast, Travel tips, sciences, kids
Reflections on - and in - the Oregon Coast: photo essay of the surreal
Most striking is that glassy surface the beach can acquire, creating a magical mirror
Explore A Distinctive Oregon Coast Ecosystem with July 1 Netarts Spit Hike Ev...
Netarts Spit: Dunes, Birds, and More happens July 1. Oceanside events
On Edge of Central and South Oregon Coast, Florence's Killer Plants, Aerial V...
Trails, horses, wilderness lakes, campgrounds, some particularly strange creatures

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted