Alive and Well in the Pacific Northwest (3) Finding the Light

“A fallen lighthouse is more dangerous than a reef.”-Navjot Singh Sidhu


Cape Meares Lighthouse

Cape Meares Lighthouse

  There is something special about a lighthouse. It holds a sense of history within its brick walls that will never be truly understood. How sad that walls can’t talk. But oh if they could…

     Sometimes there comes a moment when I just have to break away from the norm, to jump in my truck and take to the road. I have this insatiable need to seek and find all that is beautiful, informative and interesting. On this particular day I headed north to Cape Meares.

     Cape Meares lighthouse built in 1889 was commissioned on January 1st, 1890. It stood thirty-eight feet high becoming one of the shortest lighthouses along the Oregon coast. The lens is a first order Fresnel (Fraynel) made in Paris, France and transported around the Cape Horn by ship until it reached the west coast to its new home.

     Over time the five wick oil lamp with a reflector would be replaced by an oil vapor light in 1910. Fast forward to 1934 and through the use of generators that produced an electric current system, the light continued to serve. The automated beacon with the candle power of 57,000, housed in a separate building next to the lighthouse, was decommissioned by USCG on June of this year. The lighthouse keeper home no longer stands.

     Unfortunately not everyone understands or appreciates the importance of the lighthouse seen by the bullet holes that have pierced portions of the Fresnel lens, a lens that is irreplaceable. According to Jane Weighall, shop manager at the lighthouse, in 2010, vandals attacked the lens but since then it has been stabilized for those visiting the tower. This had been the second such destruction.

    The beauty of the surrounding ocean, lush landscape and all its animal life, makes the visit to Cape Meares a wonderful stimulant for all the senses.


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