by Mary Dickinson
June 4, 2003
Finally we came on a bright sunny day and there were no insects. The lighthouse was open and we walked through the restored oil house and then into the lighthouse and climbed the 114 steps to the top of the brick tower. The first order Fresnel lens is still active, operating 24 hours a day and can be seen 19 nautical miles out. It is fixed in place and its signal is a predetermined series of flashes. Ships have been guided into Yaquina Bay using this light since 1873 when it replaced the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. Built shortly before this one just a few miles away it was found inadaquate for the job. The keepers' house and outbuildings at Yaquina Head were dismantled because they were no longer needed after the light was automated in 1966.
The area is considered "natural" meaning its flaura and fauna are protected and encouraged. Tide pools at the bottom of the 70 foot cliffs around the lighthouse are part of Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. At low tide you can follow the path down to the pools and see all the sea life up close. It is so abundant the keepers and their families should have never been hungry.
The lighthouse and surrounding grounds including the tide pools and the Interpretive Center are all under YHONA. A new attractive building houses the Interpretive Center. A 25 minute movie explaing disasters and rescues at sea and the lives of the keepers of this light is presented. There is an excellent model and explanation of the workings and abilities of a Fresnel lens. Information about land and sea life in this area is available, also. Thier shop has souveniers, lighthouse sweatshirts, tees and jackets, and books, pamphets and postcards about lighthouses, and more.
From journal Lighthouses on the Oregon Coast