Florence OR – The iconic Heceta Head Lighthouse is open again after two years of restoration. The official unveiling was conducted by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and they welcomed a group of nearly 100 supporters to Heceta Head State Scenic Viewpoint to celebrate the reopening. Many of those in attendance were involved in the restoration work. The lighthouse had been closed since August of 2011.
Celebratory speeches were followed by the uncovering of the lighthouse’s original first-order Fresnel lens and the relighting of the 1,000-watt quartz bulb with its signature of one white flash every 10 seconds. Attendees then enjoyed tours of the tower and refreshments on the lawn of the Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast, run by a concessionaire of the U.S. Forest Service. The event was emceed by Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commissioner Cal Mukumoto from North Bend.
The lighthouse tower was originally constructed in 1893 and its five-wick kerosene lantern first lit in 1894. In 2001, ten years after the property was fully transferred to OPRD by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department initiated a top-to-bottom restoration effort. The work was needed to address deterioration of the landmark caused by more than a century of extreme weather and disrepair.
Under the supervision of OPRD preservation architect Sue Licht, a team of more than 100 subcontractors and craftspeople, the majority of whom were from Oregon, removed cement stucco that had sealed in moisture so that the lighthouse could air out in the damp coastal environment. They also replaced and restored the tower’s historic metalwork and masonry, installed new windows, and repaired the lens rotating mechanism. The interior and exterior of the lighthouse were repainted and the original wood floor of the workroom was uncovered and reconditioned. The lighthouse has been returned as much as possible to the way it would have looked in 1894.
The nearly $1.6-million project was financed through a combination of federal, state, and private dollars–primarily by a $1.27-million transportation enhancement grant from the Federal Highway Administration, with the remaining funds coming from OPRD, the Oregon State Parks Foundation, and other private donations. Other park improvements to the trails and parking areas were completed in the last two years thanks to help from the U.S. Forest Service.
Heceta Head is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the U.S. and has the brightest light on the Oregon coast. It also has the only active British-made lens of its size in the country. The Heceta Head Lighthouse and assistant light keeper’s house (now the Heceta Head Bed and Breakfast) were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Heceta Head State Scenic Viewpoint is located 12 miles north of Florence off of U.S. 101. The lighthouse is open for tours daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; a $5 day-use parking permit, State Parks camping receipt, or Oregon Pacific Coast Passport is required to park at the State Scenic Viewpoint.
For more information, visit www.oregonstateparks.org. The Umpqua River Lighthouse–32 miles to the south in Winchester Bay–is Heceta’s “sister lighthouse” constructed from the same blueprints. Umpqua is open for tours daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.–more information is available at www.umpqualighthouse.org.