Steve Power went inside the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse Museum to get this perspective photo of what it must have looked like (minus the jettys – 1896) for the first and only lighthouse family to live in the central coast’s first lighthouse. In this case, a lighthouse exactly, with a bright lard-fired beacon on the roof. The lighthouse, built by Ben Simpson, was inaugurated in 1871 and was tended by Charles Peirce, its one and only lighthousekeeper. Peirce with his wife and six children kept the house humming and the lard glowing among numerous lamps that cast a bright light 12 miles out to sea.
But change was coming faster than anyone knew with the construction of a more powerful lighthouse to the north at Yaquina Head. In 1873, when they fired it up, with its bright new light shining seaward 22 miles. The two lighthouses ran in tandem for about a year. But it was determined that having two lighthouses might be a bit confusing for mariners so they decommissioned the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in the fall of 1874. Mr. Peirce and his family vacated the house and it remained vacant for 14 years. After that it became a facility for what was eventually to become the U.S. Coast Guard. At the time it was called the U.S. Lifesaving Service.
Special thanks to Chris Burns for his corrections in the original story.