Discover Oregon Smallest Lighthouse, Located at the End of Sauvie Island

Smallest Lighthouse: Take Reeder Road to its end on Sauvie Island, and from there you can stroll the three miles of the Warrior Point Trail through the woods and out into the beach. Located in that general area is Warrior Rock Lighthouse, Oregon’s tiniest and most secluded lighthouse.

Discover Oregon’s Smallest Lighthouse, Located at the End of Sauvie Island

The hike to the modest Columbia River lighthouse on Sauvie Island’s northern tip is picturesque without being over the top and makes for a great day trip from Portland any time of year.

According to several sources and histories, the U.S. government commissioned the construction of the lighthouse at the end of the 19th century so that ships could steer clear of a massive bedrock reef projecting from the island.

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At first, it was just a modest wooden structure on a sandstone foundation, with a single oil lamp for illumination and a manually operated fog bell. Because of the frequent flooding that occurred on the island, an aerial tram was built to connect the nearby residences.

According to historical records, the fog bell was first made in Philadelphia in 1855 and first mounted in the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse near the mouth of the Columbia River. Before settling at Warrior Rock, it spent some time in a Seattle lighthouse.

Discover Oregon Smallest Lighthouse
Discover Oregon Smallest Lighthouse

Warrior Rock Lighthouse, like the mythical Ship of Theseus, has had nearly every component changed in the century since it was first built.

There was a wooden lighthouse until 1930 when it was replaced by a 28-foot octagonal concrete tower. The oil lamp was switched out for an electric light a few years later. The tiny lighthouse’s base was destroyed and its light and bell were rendered inoperable after a ship drifted into the wrong area and crashed against it in 1969.

The 114-year reign of the fog bell came to an end when it cracked as it was being taken down and dropped into the river.

Automation of the Warrior Rock Light was implemented in the 20th century as part of a larger trend toward simplification and efficiency in lighthouse operations, eliminating the need for a keeper or nearby dwelling. The modest lighthouse on Sauvie Island in Oregon has stood the test of time while many others along the state’s rivers have been torn down, serving not just as a constant warning to passing ships but also as an intriguing historical artifact.

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Although visitors to Warrior Point can’t go inside the lighthouse these days, they can go very near to it. Adding a little bit of architectural wonder to the island’s spectacular natural beauty, it’s one of the more interesting hiking locations in the vicinity.

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