Our Namesake Lighthouse

fullsizeoutput_3ccaHaceta Head Lighthouse is the iconic Oregon coast photo-op. We have visited Haceta Head before so we were content this time to see it from the viewpoint. When we did, we heard quite the commotion below us! The sea lions who chose not to venture into the commercial cave just down the road (Sea Lion Caves) were having a grand time.


We could hear them and smell them – even from this distance!


fullsizeoutput_3cc9Haceta Head is one of nine historic lighthouses along the Oregon coast. All are on the National Historic Register and seven are open for public viewing. We are within a short drive of Haceta Head but are only a short walk from our state park’s namesake, Umpqua Lighthouse.fullsizeoutput_3cd6 We walk to the Umpqua Lighthouse almost daily because there is where we have our nearest ocean view and outgoing mail drop.


This is the ocean view across from the Umpqua Lighthouse, the Aquaculture Triangle Oyster Farm is within the jetty triangle.

The original Umpqua Lighthouse was built in 1857, the first on the Oregon coast. Located at the mouth of the Umpqua River, it succumbed to flooding in 1864. The Umpqua Lighthouse was rebuilt and recommissioned in 1894 at the current site, 165’ above sea level.

fullsizeoutput_3cd4Umpqua Lighthouse uses a Fresnel lens built in Paris in 1890 and reconstructed on-site. Fresnel lenses are ordered first to seventh depending on their radius, height, and weight, with first order being the largest.  Umpqua’s first order lens has a radius of 36.2″, height of 101.97” and weight of 12787 lbs.    On our tour we were able to go to the top and view the lens and prisms from just below.

fullsizeoutput_3cd2The Umpqua Lighthouse emits a ‘white, white, red’ beacon in even intervals for about 20 miles seaward. It is the only lighthouse on the Oregon coast that uses red illumination. The original oil lamp light source was changed to electricity in 1934 and was fully automated in 1960.

P1100620In the early days at Umpqua Lighthouse, a “Keeper” was a family man who made $800 per year. His first and second assistants, likely younger and single, made $600 and $550 respectively.  It was an isolated life and keepers and their families were expected to be self-sufficient with only periodic supply drops by lighthouse tender ships.  The tenders dropped food staples, fuel sources and polish for maintenance.

fullsizeoutput_3cd0Keepers and assistants wore smocks so their uniform buttons would not scratch the lens and prisms during cleaning.

fullsizeoutput_3cd1This weight was part of the original rotation system using gravity to turn the lens. A keeper would need to wind it back up several times a night.


We walked over to the lighthouse one night to see it in action.


We are also within walking distance of the sand dunes!

fullsizeoutput_3cb7I am usually content to let Randy drive on these types of adventures while I enjoy the ride.  This time it was less expensive for us to each have our own.


And it was fun!

fullsizeoutput_3cbeIn a closing note, we are doing our best to enjoy our stay here knowing that when we return to Boise, Randy will begin his treatments. In his engineer way, he has done LOTS of research and is feeling good about it. Thank you for your prayers and good wishes.


About Serene

Former full time RVers, transitioned to homeowners and travelers. We've still got a map to finish! Home is the Phoenix area desert and a small cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona.
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3 Responses to Our Namesake Lighthouse

  1. Mark McClelland says:

    I remember hearing (and smelling) Sea Lions from that area, as well as seeing them at Sea Lion Caves. That is a beautiful lens on the lighthouse. The lens here is a 4th order lens, much smaller and less impressive!!

  2. Teri says:

    Great pictures! That is a beautiful lighthouse. I enjoyed all the interesting facts.

  3. Brenda says:

    Wonderful pictures and history about the lighthouses. Hoping to see them at some point when we travel more. Thx for sharing

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