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Feb-01-2007 20:45printcomments

The History of Oregon's Tallest Lighthouse; Yaquina Head

The Cape Foulweather Lighthouse is one of the most-visited on the west coast, with over 400,000 visitors each year.

lighthouse Yaquina Head, also known as Cape Foulweather Lighthouse
Photos by Kevin Hays, Salem-News.com

(NEWPORT, Ore.) - It took approximately one year, and over 370,000 bricks from San Francisco, to construct Oregon's tallest lighthouse Yaquina Head, also known as Cape Foulweather Lighthouse.

The 93 foot tower, double walled for insulation and dampness protection, is Oregon's tallest, and is located on a narrow point of land jutting due west into the Pacific Ocean north of Newport, at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.

There was trouble with the lighthouse from the very beginning.

Construction work began in the fall of 1871 but was often delayed due to the tempestuous Oregon winter.

Boats bringing materials often had difficulty landing in a cove on the south side of the head. At least two boats were overturned in the surf losing their cargo.

The lighting of the first order Fresnel lens was delayed for almost two years due to parts of the lantern somehow being lost in transit.

The light has since been active since Head Keeper Fayette Crosby walked up the 114 steps, to light the wicks on the evening of August 20th, 1873.

At that time the oil burning fixed white light was displayed from sunset to sunrise.

The light was automated on May 1st, 1966. The original lens is still in place, but is now illuminated with an electric 1,000 watt globe that generates over 130,000 candlepower.

It has a signature of two seconds on, two seconds off, two seconds on, then 14 seconds off.

The lighthouse recently emerged from the scaffolding and protective shrink-wrap that surrounded it for six months with a new "old look."

"The primary purpose of the nearly one million dollar project was to preserve the classic structure and restore it to the same condition and appearance as when it was completed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1873," said Yaquina Head Manager Joe Ashor.

The brick tower and adjoining oil house remain white. The wood trim, formerly green, is now grey. The metal work at the top of the tower, including the parapet and the lantern roof, and the upper and lower iron belt courses are now black

The restoration effort focused on repairing or replacing heavily eroded cast iron pieces at the top of the tower.

Nationally prominent metalsmith Alex Klahm, of St. Petersburg, Florida, supervised that work and supplied authentic iron and bronze castings to replace the most severely damaged parts.

Countless coats of paint applied over the years were removed from all exterior metal and mortar.

A new mold and mildew resistant, state-of-the-art paint has been applied.

"This project has been a major milestone in helping us return the lighthouse to its former glory," said Ashor.

More restoration work is planned.

The windows on the south side of the oil house, that were bricked in over 40 years ago, will be reinstalled and the interior of the oil house will be restored he said.

The Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses, formerly Yaquina Lights Inc., has committed funds to assist the BLM in accomplishing the work.

The lighthouse officially reopened to the public on Saturday, July 1st, 2006.

The lighthouse was used as the setting for the "Moesko Island Lighthouse" in the 2002 film The Ring.

It also appeared in Dead Man's Curve (1998), Hysterical (1983) and Nancy Drew: Pirates Cove (1977).

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is the home of "Quarry Cove."

This former rock quarry is now converted to a man-made system of living tidepools. It is accessible to all by a series of concrete pathways navigable by wheelchair.

Consult a local tide table to plan your visit to coincide with low tide so you may enjoy this world class, unique feature.

In May of 1997 the new interpretive center was opened at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.

The center features exhibits related to many features of the area and a well stocked interpretive store.

Proceeds from store sales directly benefits Friends of Yaquina Lighthouse, as they are used for lighthouse interpretation and maintenance.

Hours of Operation:

Park Grounds: The entrance gate is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year.

Interpretive Center:

Mid-June to Labor Day: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. September and October: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Winter: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM


Costumed tours will be offered from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM and interpreter assisted tours will be available from noon - 4:00 PM.

New this year, twilight tours of the lighthouse will be offered Saturdays throughout the summer from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, beginning July 15th.


Entrance fees are charged at Yaquina Head Outstanding Area. Fees are $5 per car, which includes a three day pass.

An annual pass may be purchased for $10, or you may obtain one with membership to Yaquina Lighthouses, Inc.

Members of Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses may enter free.

Large photos of the Yaquina Lighthouse:

The spiral staircase is quite large and may be difficult to climb for those with mobility issues. Unfortunately no small residential home elevator or lift can be installed to take visitors to the top. The addition of an elevator would ensure all visitors could reach the top, but it is important to keep the lighthouse's historic stairs and handrails intact.


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

yaquina williams October 12, 2007 11:12 am (Pacific time)

My name is yaquina williams too.and my mouther named me ather the light house I'm 14 years old my brithday is on may 14,1993 i live in charlotte and i was wondering coan u till me some thins about the lighthouse.

Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Produc February 5, 2007 10:05 am (Pacific time)

It is nice to see one of our reclamation projects being so proudly championed!

Raven February 4, 2007 8:49 am (Pacific time)

These articles are great. Keep up the good work!

Kevin February 3, 2007 6:01 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks. I'm glad people are enjoying these articles and pictures.

Leonardo February 3, 2007 12:17 pm (Pacific time)

NIce piece, Kevin. The photos are beautiful.

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