Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Heceta Head Revisited


Over the headland, around the curve,


through the tunnel,


and across the long bridge, US 101 took us north of Florence for one last tour of the Oregon Pacific coast.


We’d stopped at Haceta Head Lighthouse Scenic Viewpoint on earlier (see Yatzi To Hachawachi blog), but were too tired to hike to the lighthouse.  We returned today to complete our visit.

When first opened, the light station complex consisted a large house for the head lightkeeper and his family, a duplex for the two assistants and their families, and outbuildings for livestock and fowl, and storage for food and supplies.  The headland was isolated and the keepers had to be self sufficient, adding wild game to their farm fare.  Up the hill were located two kerosene oil houses and the lighthouse. 


Today all that remains of the buildings  are the duplex (now a b&b run by concession for the US Forest Service),


the two kerosene oil store houses, one of which is a tiny museum,


and the lighthouse.  This 56 foot tower sits 205 feeet above the ocean.  The light shines 21miles out to sea.


Heceta Head lighthouse is almost identical to the Umpqua River Lighthouse which emits a red and white flash as compared to Heceta Head’s white flash.

Umpqha River lighthouse which we visited yesterday, surrounded by marine layer.


The keepers at Heceta Head worked in shifts to keep the light burning from sunset to sunrise.  The clockworks (originally positioned on the gray platform above)that rotated the lamp (which sits on a similar platform further up) consisted of a cable attached to a 200 lb weight that dropped through the middle of the tower.  The lightkeepers had to hand crank the weight once every 2 1/2 hours through the night.  They also ad to replenish the lamp’s fuel reservoir by hauling kerosene from the oil houses to the top of the tower, and they had to polish soot off the lens to keep the light shining clearly.  When not in the tower, they would pass the time by reading in the workroom downstairs (the little room attached to the lighthouse) by the woodstove.  In 1934 electricity replaced the oil lamp with a bulb and reduced the need for lightkeepers.  In 1963, the lighthouse was fully automated.


View from lighthouse level of sea stacks and coastline where sea birds, seals, and sea lions rest.

There is a trail to a viewpoint 75 feet higher, but we were content with this one.


Last view of the big dunes.


I’m always in search of good locally made hard ice cream, especially one that still makes malts.  We decided to give this place in Florence a try.


The counter girl said that their 48 flavors of ice cream were made in the back and that I could have my chocolate malt.  Yay!  It could have used a little more malt but was very satisfying.


They also sold salt water taffy in 120 flavors!


Moving day tomorrow.  We plan no more coast exploration, but expect to enjoy many more miles of the old-wood Siuslaw National Forest as we continue south along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.

Stayed tuned.

Louise and Duane

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