Where in the world: Oregon lighthouses create magnetic interest

by Sarah Welch

A group of college girlfriends were having reunions several years ago, gathering at different places.

First year was at one of the girl’s family beach house on Bolivar Peninsula.

Glad we were able to meet there when we did because that beach house, which had been in their family for 50 years or more, is gone with the wind -- that is, Hurricane Ike’s wind.

One year we met at a relative’s lovely house on one of the canals in Galveston. Another year in Cloudcroft, N.M.

One year, at a girl’s ranch at Coleman, where we met all her animals, including the Twelve Disciples (12 goats); Matilda the donkey; Hercules the big goat; Daisy Mae the pot-belly pig; Pretty Boy the father duck; Dirty the duck; Dollie the llama; and Henrietta, Hector, Hey You, Not You – geese! What a menagerie!

One of the girls, my college roommate, lived in Grants Pass, Ore. All the rest from Texas flew there for a great visit at her home and in the town.

We shopped and ate and took a wild jet boat excursion on the Rogue River and returned soaking wet.

Leaving Grants Pass, the Texans drove up the coast of Oregon looking for lighthouses, which are fascinating to most inland dwellers.

Cape Blano Lighthouse was our first stop. Built in 1870, this lighthouse is 59 feet tall and sits 245 feet above the ocean and is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in Oregon.

It was very isolated in those early years before Highway 101 was completed. It is five miles off 101 and well worth the visit.

Coquille River Lighthouse has a 40 foot tower and was built on a rocky islet reached by a footbridge.

It was deactivated in 1939 and abandoned. In 1964, Bullards Beach State Park was created, which included the grounds of the lighthouse.

Park personnel and Corps of Engineers restored the lighthouse in the late 1970s and it is now open to the public as an interpretive center.

Umpqua River Lighthouse was originally built in 1857, but it was built on sand and toppled after only seven ears.

The current lighthouse was built on the bluffs overlooking the beach. Its light alternates red and white, which is fascinating to watch, especially if there is a mist in the air, which I imagine is most of the time.

Heceta Head Lighthouse, 125 years old in 2019, is by far the most beautiful setting and is the most photographed lighthouse on the Pacific Coast, sitting high above the ocean on a rocky bluff.

The lens of the 56 foot high lighthouse is the most powerful on the Oregon Coast and can be seen 22 miles out to sea.

An added interest is the assistant keeper’s house, Heceta House, which now operates as a bed and breakfast.

The lovely rooms face the ocean and guests are treated to a seven course breakfast.

The year after our girls’ group visited, my husband and I booked a night there and enjoyed it very much!

After dark, we joined other guests and walked up a slight incline to the base of the lighthouse and enjoyed watching the light go round and round.

A “magical” experience!

Heceta House hosts special events throughout the year with speakers, wine tastings, teas, even wedding proposals.

Lighthouses are scattered along the west and east coasts and have a magnetic interest for many people, especially this land-locked East Texan.

Don’t listen to what THEY say. Go see! – Chinese Proverb