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The two RV Gypsies
visited Heceta Head Lighthouse and Beach
July 31, 2013

Heceta Head Light is a lighthouse located on the Oregon Coast 13 miles north of Florence, Oregon and 13 miles south of Yachats, Oregon, and 2 miles away from Sea Lion Caves. It is located at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint (a state park) midway up a 205-foot tall headland.

history book clipartIn 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 the lighthouse, houses for the head light keeper, the two assistant light keepers and their families, a barn, and two kerosene oil storage buildings. If one caught on fire, there was a secondary source.

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 populated the area. Heceta Head is part of the Siuslaw Indians' traditional lands, known in their language as Itúwɪs. They hunted sea lions in the area and gathered sea bird eggs from the offshore rocks. In 1888, white settlers moved into the area and claimed 164 acres of the surrounding land. That same year U.S. Lighthouse Service approved the building of the lighthouse, and the government bought 19 acres for the lighthouse structures.

The 56-foot tall lighthouse shines a beam visible for 21 miles, making it the strongest light on the Oregon Coast. The light is maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Heceta Head Light and Keepers Quarters were 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 plus 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.

An historical bridge as seen from the beach by Heceta Head Lighthouse

An historical bridge
An historical bridge

Heceta Head and neighboring islands give animals the rocky refuge they need to survive. Seabirds and sea mammals need the ocean and these islands for food and protection from predators and human harassment. Seabirds relay on rocky cliffs and islands for safe nesting sites. Seals and sea lions go out on rocks to nest and give birth.

the beach by Heceta Head Lighthouse
Lee Duquette and Ilse on the beach by Heceta Head Lighthouse

Ilse Blahak walking towards the ocean and Parrot and Pinnacle Rocks

Ilse Blahak walking towards the ocean
Parrot and Pinnacle Rocks

Lee Duquette

Surfers in the ocean

Lee Duquette walking towards the ocean
surfer in the ocean
sign about how this rocky refuge formed

Lee and Karen Duquette started up the path to Heceta Head Lighthouse. A short trail led to the historic Heceta Head lighthouse and assistant keeper's house.

Lee and Karen Duquette start up the path to Heceta Head Lighthouse

Karen Duquette and her sister Ilse Blahak standing in front of Heceta Head Lighthouse.

Karen Duquette and her sister Ilse Blahak standing in front of Heceta Head Lighthouse
Heceta Head Lighthouse

The light was on, but can barely be seen due to the fog.

The light is on, but can barely be seen due to the fog
poster about Heceta Head Lighthouse
a rocky refuge sign

The fog was so heavy that the rocks down below could barely be seen.

The fog is so heavy that the rocks down below can barely be seen.
The fog is so heavy that the rocks down below can barely be seen.

This is not a black and white photo. The fog was so heavy that the colors were lost.

rock in heavy fog

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