Yaquina Head Light (Newport, Oregon)

The Yaquina Head Light sits on the Oregon Coast in the United States.  Located in Lincoln County not far from the mouth of the Yaquina River near Newport, OR, the Yaquina Head Light is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon with a height of 93 feet (28m).  Previously known as the Cape Foulweather Lighthouse, The Yaquina Head Light started its life not in the Pacific Northwest but in Paris.  Production of the lighthouse took place across the sea in Paris in 1868 and it was shipped to Oregon.  First lit on 20 August 1873, it was not automated till 1966.

The lighthouse still uses its original 1868 French-made fixed first order Fresnel lens and it is visible 19 miles (39 km) away.  The 100 acre (40 ha) site was established by Congress as an Outstanding Natural area in 1980 and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  In 1993 the Yaquina Head Light was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  While the grounds are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the lighthouse lantern is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife monitors offshore bird rookeries as well as local wildlife.  With the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife managing the intertidal animals and the Oregon Department of State Lands managing the intertidal lands it is truly a group effort to take care of this historic site.

A small two story keepers’ dwelling was built at the same time as the lighthouse tower and oil house.  At the time it was common to have three lighthouse keepers and the Head Keeper lived on site for much of the lighthouses history.  The first Head Keeper was Fayette Crosby and he or one of his assistants walked the 114 steps to light the oil burning wick each night.

In 1939 the U.S. Coast Guard took over the management of the lighthouse and the number of full-time keepers was reduced to two.  The original site of the keepers’ house is now a large expanse of grass as the structure, along with many of the outbuildings were demolished in 1984.  The lighthouse has not only worked as a site to protect sailors from running aground, but as an outpost to look for incoming enemy ships.  During WWII there were 17 servicemen were stationed at the site.

Preservation of the Lighthouse has been overseen by the “Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses” and in 2001 the interior of the tower was thoroughly renovated.  In 2006 the exterior underwent a complete restoration at a cost of $1 million, and it was returned to its original black, white, and gray color scheme.  If you are interested in preservation and maintenance of the site you may donate here to the Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses, a non-profit, 501.c.3 organization.

Yaquina Head Light Facts

  • The Yaquina Head Light was first light by Fayette Crosby in 1872.
  • Over 370,000 bricks were used to construct the lighthouse.
  • The Yaquina Head Light is the tallest lighthouse in the state of Oregon.
  • The light pattern is unique. 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 14 seconds off.
  • There are 114 steps to the top of the lighthouse.
  • The tower receives more than 400,000 visitors each year.

Travel Tips

  • Tours of the lighthouse are not always available and when they are, they’re first-come, first-serve.
  • The Oregon coast can get pretty cold. Take layers and be prepared for wet and windy conditions.
  • The intertidal pools are a great place to see local wildlife but you will more than likely get wet. Take a change of shoes or hiking boots to check them out.