A few years ago, my husband and I took a week along the Oregon Coast to visit the lighthouses. We started in Cannon Beach and worked our way south. Although there is a lighthouse ship north of there in Astoria, we had already been there, so it wasn’t a part of this trip.
There are nine lighthouse along the Oregon Coast, some of them still operating and some that you can go into (as well as the lightship and two privately owned that we did not visit). The scenery along the way was beautiful, making for a great trip!
So here was our itinerary:
Day 1 – Leaving Woodburn and going West! We drove to the coast and headed to our first stop – Tillamook Rock.
Tillamook rock is located 1.2 miles “seaward” from Tillamook head between Seaside and Cannon beach. It’s nickname was “Terrible Tilly” because of its intense exposure to storm waves. It was commissioned in 1881 and was replaced in 1957. It is now a private columbarium and can be seen in the distance from Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach.
From there we kept going south to the Anchorage Motel in Pacific City. We stayed there for two nights, a home base for the first few lighthouses. Dinner was a burger and a beer at the Pelican Pub and Brewery. A great place to eat (and the beer is even better) right on the beach!
Day 2 – We headed north to Tillamook from Pacific City. We visited the Cape Mears lighthouse, the Octopus tree and the Blue Herron Cheese factory. Also in Tillamook and worth the visit is the Tillamook Cheese factory.
Cape Mears Lighthouse – It was commissioned in 1890 and served the Oregon Coast until 1968. When we visited, one of the fresnal lenses had been stolen, but has since been recovered and restored. You can go into the lighthouse and view the lens. Notice the strange optical illusion it creates! The coastline at the park is simply breathtaking!
Heading across the road from the lighthouse is a giant sitka spruce, known as the Octopus tree. A fascinating specimen with some interesting wildlife living in its vacinity.
Our next stop was the Blue Herron Cheese factory. There is a fabulous petting zoo, some interesting old vehicles and a great retail store that sells artisan cheeses and offers wine tasting. Our stop yielded our cheese and wine supper – a delicious treat when we arrived back in our room!
Day 3 – We headed south from Pacific City, through Lincoln City. If you like to gamble, the Chinook Winds Casino is on the North end of the town. Further south are the Tanger Outlet stores – one of my favorite shopping destinations!
We past by Cape Foulweather and stopped to take some photos. Then down into Newport. Newport offers two lighthouses, one with a rather haunted past!
Yaquina Head Lighthouse (pronounced: yah-kwin-ah) sits on the top of a cliff overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It was originally intended to be placed at Cape Foulweather, but ended up here. It has been called one of the most beautiful lighthouse in the US. It was completed in 1873 and is still in operation . It’s light can be seen for 19 miles off shore. It was automated in 1966 eliminating the need for the light keeper. This majestic building is open for tours. There is a fee and a wait to get in. There is also a great museum and interpretive center on site.
Yaquina Bay lighthouse is the second oldest standing lighthouse structure in Oregon. It was only in service for a very short time – from 1871 to 1874 – when it was replaced by the much brighter and more efficiently located Yaquina Head. In 1996 the Coast Guard began to maintain and use it for Coast Guard navigation. The story of Muriel, a sea captains daughter, is the source of the legend of hauntings here. The story says that while she was exploring the lighthouse, she went back in to get her scarf and never returned. There was a pool of blood found at the stairs. Although there have been people who claim to have seen her ghost, the story is linked to a fictitious tale told by Lischen Miller.
And no trip to Newport is complete without a stop at the Rogue Ale brewery, Brewers on the Bay. The brewery is located on the ground level with the restaurant and pub on the second floor. Good food and even better beer!
As you head south from Newport, you cross a bridge that goes over the bay. This bridge, like most of them along the Oregon Coast, was designed by renowned architect Conde McCullough.
Keeping on our southward trail, we headed off to Florence and our next lighthouse. The Heceta Head lighthouse and the Heceta Head House bed and breakfast. The assistant lightkeepers house was restored and now offers great rooms and a fabulous, multi-course morning meal! And it’s haunted! We checked into our room (we stayed in the cape cove room) and went out to explore. We missed the last tour by 15 minutes, so we just took pictures of the outside.
The next morning, before breakfast we did some exploring. We got some different views of the place and made a couple of friends. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like sharing a bathroom, but I never saw the people we were sharing with – not even while I sat in the claw foot tub, overlooking the beautiful ocean, relaxing after a day of driving.
Heceta Head – Sitting 205 feet above the water, and was commissioned in 1894. Still operational, it was automated in 1963. It is said that the ghost of the assistant lightkeeper still roams the grounds, primarily the house. The lady in Grey, or Rue (some believe that to be her name) committed suicide after the drowning of her young daughter in the 1890s. She still searches for her child. While we were eating breakfast one of the guests reported that the closet door kept opening and closing during the night. They didn’t know until then that the place was haunted!
Day 4 – After breakfast we headed south again. On our way to Bandon Beach, where we would stay the next two nights, we stopped at the Umpqua River, Cape Arago, and Coquille River Lighthouses.
Umpqua River Lighthouse – The first lighthouse at this location opened in 1857. It, along with the first lighthouse in California, was commissioned by the federal government. Unfortunately, the planners built the house on a sandbar and fell apart six years later. The lighthouse is on shore away from the original site in Winchester Bay. Where it originally stood is now an oyster bed for the world’s finest oysters – Umpqua Triangle Oysters.
Cape Arago – We were unable to get to this lighthouse. It is not one that is open to the public and can only been seen from Sunset Bay State park, near North Bend and Coos Bay. Built in 1909, it is owned and operated by the Coast Guard.
Coquille River Lighthouse – Abandoned and sitting on the shores of Bandon beach. Taking five years to complete, this lighthouse was lit in 1896. At the time of our visit it was locked up and no one could go inside. It has since been restored and is open for tours – located at the Bullards Beach State park in Bandon.
After seeing the lighthouses we checked into our hotel along the coast. We stated at Windermere on the Beach.
Our kitchen opened to the beach, and we had some regular visitors.
Also seen from our room was a rock formation that appeared to be a face. The legend is that of Ewanua, an Indian princess. While frolicking on the beach, she was ceased by Seatka, the evil spirit of the sea. Her face lies on the beach looking upward so as not to catch the eye of Seatka. Read more of the legend at Shoreline Education for Awareness – The Legend of Face Rock.
Day 5 – Heading south again, we drove toward Port Orford. We stopped for a tour of the historic Hughes House. Built in 1898, this beautifully restored Queen Anne style home was an interesting stop.
From there we went out to Cape Blanco state park to view the final lighthouse of our trip.
Cape Blanco is located just four miles north of Port Orford. It first lit it’s lamp in December of 1870.
We headed back to our room to rest up for the final leg of our trip.
Day 6 – we headed inland into the Southern Oregon Wine Region. We toured some wineries, stayed one more night in a hotel and then headed home. But this part of the trip is another story for another time.