Yaquina Head Lighthouse Is Getting Ready For Its 150th Anniversary In Oregon

Yaquina Head Lighthouse: Maintainers of Oregon’s highest lighthouse are giving the central coast landmark a facelift in preparation for the celebration of the landmark’s 150th anniversary in 2023. Christopher Papen, the interim site manager, and Katherine Fuller, the interim chief ranger, at Yaquina Head. Completed in 1872 at a height of 93 feet, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse didn’t have its lamp lit until 1873 due to, get this, supply chain issues in the 19th century.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse Is Getting Ready For Its 150th Anniversary In Oregon

“It took a bit to bring all the pieces to the lens room here,” said interim head ranger Katherine Fuller.

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse officially opened to the public on August 20, 1873, therefore Fuller said the 150th-anniversary celebration will culminate on that day. Many activities and continuing repairs will precede that day.

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Along the Oregon coast, close to Newport, the lighthouse is a popular tourist destination. The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, where the landmark may be seen, is located at the extremity of a point that extends into the Pacific Ocean for about a mile. Attracting almost half a million people annually, the 100-acre park features hiking paths, panoramic vistas, abundant bird life, and a visitor center.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse Is Getting Ready For Its 150th Anniversary
Yaquina Head Lighthouse Is Getting Ready For Its 150th Anniversary

Locals in Newport have already seen one difference. The 1,000-watt halogen lamp in the lighthouse beacon has been replaced with an energy-efficient, long-lasting LED stack. For a period, “we had some complaints from neighbors,” Fuller recalled. Photos will show you that the previous one had a yellowish tint. The LEDs are obviously unique in comparison to other lights. They suddenly appear, like, bang.

There is currently no information on when tourists will once again be able to reach the peak.
Tours to the top of the lighthouse will be available until 2020. Then, during the epidemic, the doors of the ancient building were locked. Late this past summer, restricted “quick peek” excursions resumed, however, they are now limited to the ground floor.

Public access to the summit, according to BLM’s interim site manager Chris Papen, will be restored after the agency reaches full staffing and a greater “confidence level” with structural and COVID safety. Even while Papen couldn’t give a firm date for the reintroduction of pre-pandemic tours, he did say that his company was working toward that aim. The local BLM office is currently operating at around 20% – 30% below capacity.

A “closed for restoration” sign remained obstructed the lighthouse’s spiral stairway in December 2022.
Still marked “closed for restoration” as of December 2022, the spiral staircase leading to the lighthouse’s observation deck.

Fuller said, “The exterior is looking excellent.” Room by room, the brick lighthouse is being restored and maintained. More work constantly has to be done. If you’ve ever owned an older home, you know that maintenance is a never-ending process.

According to Papen, the antique lighthouse appears to be in good structural condition.

I’m not nearly 150, but if I looked as well at 150, I’d be fairly pleased with myself, Papen said.

A new concrete patio and observation deck have been added to the seaward side of the lighthouse base since your last visit, which you may find to be an upgrade. It was installed in lieu of a wooden deck that had traffic cones strategically placed to indicate potential danger areas.

Restored crews were able to go to work in the basement of the lighthouse during the period when it was closed due to the epidemic. They tore down the old fireplace and erected a new one with a functioning chimney. Next up on the agenda, according to Papen, is the restoration of the oil chamber across the hall, which might go on well past the sesquicentennial.

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One of Oregon’s two oldest working lighthouses is Yaquina Head. Oregon’s first and oldest operational lighthouse is located in Curry County at Cape Blanco. In 1870 it was first illuminated. For the light to shine back then, the lighthouse keeper would have to dip wicks into lard oil and set them ablaze. It wasn’t until the 1930s that Yaquina Head got its first access to electricity.

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