Heceta Head Lighthouse
|Definition: Heceta Head Light is a lighthouse located on the Oregon Coast 13 miles (21 km) north of Florence, Oregon and 13 miles (21 km) south of Yachats, Oregon, United States.|
Heceta Head Light is a lighthouse located on the Oregon Coast 13 miles (21 km) north of Florence, Oregon and 13 miles (21 km) south of Yachats, Oregon, United States. It is located at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint (a state park) midway up a 205-foot (63 m) tall headland. Built in 1894, the 56-foot (17 m) tall lighthouse shines a beam visible for 21 miles (34 km), making it the strongest light on the Oregon Coast.
The light is maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, while the assistant lighthouse keepers' house, operated as a bed and breakfast, is maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. The lighthouse is 2 miles (3.2 km) away from Sea Lion Caves.
Heceta Head is named after the Spanish explorer Bruno de Heceta, who explored the Pacific Northwest during the late 18th century. Before him, Heceta Head was a spot of frequent fishing and hunting by the Native American tribes that sparsely populated the area. In 1888, white settlers moved into the area and claimed 164 acres (66 ha) of the surrounding land. That same year U.S. Lighthouse Service approved the building of the lighthouse, and the government bought 19 acres (8 ha) (out of the 164 previously purchased) for the lighthouse structures.
The lightkeepers' houses, circa 1900.
In 1892, a crew of 56 constructed the light. Because of the site's seclusion, building materials were either shipped in if the weather and tide permitted, or brought from Florence by wagon, the latter usually taking four or five hours. Stones were brought from the Clackamas River and bricks came from San Francisco. Completed in August 1893, the entire project cost $80,000 and consisted of:
Heceta Head Light and Keepers Quarters was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 for its architectural and engineering significance. The site originally included several other buildings—farm buildings and the single-family head lighthouse keeper's house, which was demolished in 1940, and was very similar in size and design to the remaining house. Due to electrification the head lighthouse keeper was no longer needed, and the house was bought for $10 and dismantled for its lumber which was used to build Alpha Bit bookstore-cafe in Mapleton, Oregon, which still stands today. The remaining keepers' house was a duplex that housed the first and second assistant lighthouse keepers and their families. After the light was automated in 1963, the last keepers moved away and the remaining house was leased to Lane Community College in 1970 by the U.S. Forest Service, which had taken over management of the building. The porch of the Queen Anne-style house underwent restoration in 1981.
The keepers quarters are purported to be haunted by the ghost of an elderly woman, nicknamed Rue. Several incidents have been reported, including a visible apparition, moved objects, and occasional housekeeping. Most reported sightings of Rue occur in the attic, with many from the outside looking up into the attic.
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