Heceta Head Lighthouse
I thought today I’d give you a little info on the lighthouse we are working at. We had fairly good weather this last week and so had a good flow of visitors. It is a 1/2 mile hike uphill from the parking lot, so we start our day with a little exercise. About 3/4 the way up the hill is the original
|Assistant Lightkeeper's House now a bed and breakfast|
assistant light keepers House. It was originally a duplex that housed the families of the two assistant light keepers. There was another small house next to it for the head light keeper and his wife but in 1936 when the electricity came to the lighthouse only two light keepers were needed so the head keeper moved into the duplex and the small house was sold for $10 to a local who hauled off the lumber to reuse. This plot of land now belongs to the US Forest Service and the house is run by a concessionaire as a bed and breakfast. We have talked to several folks that have stayed there and they say it is a wonderful place and the food is incredible. They also say if you want to stay here you need to get reservations well in advance, for the summer maybe over a year in advance.
|Looking down on the oil houses from the watch tower|
|A view of the lens on our tour|
As you finish your climb to the lighthouse you come to the two oil houses. This is our domain. The first one is our break room and houses the supplies. These are heated but not very well so there is an added space heater in the break room. The second oil house is where the displays are housed. We have photos from the early days, photos of the lens and a section of broken glass that broke during cleaning. They found someone to make a replacement piece for $25,000 dollars. We also have a TV showing a slide show of the renovation. It is worth the watch and I think makes people understand what an undertaking this project has been and why it has taken more than a year to complete.
Here is a look at our oil house displays.
The lighthouse was built from 1892 to 1894. The light was lit on March 30th, 1894. The lens is a unique one. It is a first order (largest of the fresnel lenses) fresnel lens made by the Chance Brothers in England. Most of these type lens were made in France. There are only three of this type of lens in the US left and when they relight this one it will be the only functional one. In 1939 the US Coastguard took over all the light houses on the coast. In World War II there were soldiers stationed here and some barracks and a mess hall were built, but they’re all gone now too. 1963 brought the complete automation of the lighthouse and the retirement of the last light keeper. The Coast guard bricked up all the windows to prevent vandalism and that eventually caused some of the deterioration that has now been repaired. Those windows were critical to keeping the air circulating and in this very humid environment that is very important. In the restoration those windows were returned and now will function as originally designed. The added plus is you get a great view out to the ocean during the tour.
We had the privilege of getting a tour of the inside from the the ranger here. When this opens again and it is close, hopefully June 1st, it will be worth the hike. They have done a beautiful job. The ranger explained that one of the most unusual facts of this restoration is they were able to secure the money to renovate both the inside and outside at the same time. He explained that usually you could get money for one or another but rarely all at the same time.
This lighthouse is the second most photographed lighthouse in the US. It is visible as you come around the corner from the Sea Lion Caves headed north on Highway 101. It is a stunning site and gem of the Oregon Coast. We feel privileged to have a chance to volunteer here even though its not open. I have learned a lot and enjoyed sharing that with visitors.
Next post I want to tell you a ghost story about the area but I want to do a little more research first. We also took a trip to Newport and visited two more lighthouses to tell you about . Until then,
|A view of the Lightkeepers house from the lighthouse|