Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: Yaquina Head Light

Life became an adventure back then.

When our family of five found ourselves living in the Pacific Northwest back in the 90’s, it was like a whole new world opened up before our eyes.

Up until my husband accepted a company transfer that moved us there, we had lived the majority of our married life in the Midwest.

Flat open landscape as far as the eye could see became the norm during his military days when we resided in the state where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain. 

After he embarked on a sales rep career with a national company, we lived in the Kansas City suburbs of the sunflower state until we moved to the west coast.

Once our eyes beheld our new home, we viewed some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery during the several years we lived only about an hour from the Pacific Ocean.

Fair weather or foul, the Oregon Coast is nothing like sandy, sun-drenched beaches you’ll find elsewhere. The coastline is mostly rocky and the temperature of the water very cold, even on a summer day when land temperatures reach 100°.  On a day like that, our children still shivered in the water and we had to coax them out before their lips turned blue!

But we found trips there all year-long to be a worthwhile adventure – one we will never forget, just like the lighthouse I’m sharing with you today on my Tuesday Tour.  

Today’s tour takes us to another of the first few such structures I have visited in person – Yaquina Head Light. (In the 1990’s, I only possessed a point and shoot film camera, so the photos’ quality is not the best.)

On one of our many trips to the Oregon coast, we stopped to view this 93-foot tall tower, noted to be the tallest lighthouse in the state. I can’t recall exactly when we stopped at this site, but I suspect it was during a wintertime visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, located in Newport along Yaquina Bay. This top-rated aquarium became famous in the 90’s because Keiko, the orca whale who starred in the movie Free Willy, lived there until he was transported to Iceland.

Yaquina (pronounced “yah-KWIH-nah”) Head Light is located north of Newport. Its claim to fame is that it is Oregon’s only remaining “historical, wooden” lighthouse and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Another interesting aspect of this lighthouse, which was once called Cape Foulweather Lighthouse, is that it is purported to be haunted. Folklore says that when a ship passes near it, compasses onboard become erratic.  Apparently, that has been explained by the fact that the ground upon which the lighthouse was built contains magnetized iron, which can throw off readings.

The lighthouse was actually constructed in Paris in 1868, then shipped to Oregon, and first was illuminated in August 1873. Back then, the light was provided by oil burning wicks, but the lighthouse was modernized and became automated in 1966. Another noteworthy fact about this particular lighthouse is that during World War 2, military servicemen were stationed there to watch for enemy ships.

Yaquina Head is still operational today and flashes a distinct pattern 24 hours a day: 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 14 seconds off. Its signal can be seen 19 miles out to sea.

When visitors scan the ocean view from the lighthouse, they may be able to spot whales as they migrate south during the winter months of December and January (to warmer water so they can breed and give birth) and again in the spring (March and April) when the whales head back north to the Bering Sea.

Whatever season one may visit and no matter what kind of weather befalls, Yaquina Head Light provides a beautiful view, one I’m glad to have witnessed.

“There are times when the ocean is not the ocean — not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only the gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits. Those are the nights the light is needed most.” ~M. L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans, 2012



Mama of this empty nest, I’m content to live a quiet, country life with my husband of 40+ years and to view the gorgeous sunsets off my own back yard deck. Mama to three adults and Nana to adorable grandchildren, my empty nest fills up again with noise and laughter when they all return 'home'. A former English teacher, reporter/editor, education director for a non-profit organization, and stay at home mom, I retired after a season of substitute teaching at a private academy. Now I enjoy time spent with my grandchildren and family and writing words that seem to pour out of my soul or wandering around the countryside with my camera. Foremost, my faith sustains me as I meander through the empty nest stage of life. My favorite scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

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