Umpqua River Lighthouse


Fort Worth, United States

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Artist's Description

It was difficult to get a nice picture of the Umpqua River Lighthouse since it is located within a compound enclosed by an unattractive chain fence and surrounded by some very unimaginative buildings. But if you just confine your view to the top, with the beautiful Fresnel lens, and the evergreen trees in the background, it’s just beautiful! I think next time I need to get down on the beach to try the view from there. Located at the mouth of Winchester Bay, Oregon, the first Umpqua River Light was built in 1855 and lit in 1857. Built along the river channel, the original light was vulnerable to seasonal flooding. This led to yearly erosion of the sand embankment of the light. In October 1863, the building’s foundations had become too unstable and the structure soon collapsed. But it wasn’t until 1892 that construction on a new light began….blame Congressional foot dragging. Some things never change!. The new light was lit in 1894. It was built from the same plans and is virtually identical to Heceta Head Light, farther to the north. The light was automated in the 1960s. After the light was automated, it was left on twenty-four hours a day. Over time, the chariot wheels, on which the lens turned, wore out. When the Coast Guard talked of discontinuing the Fresnel lens and installing a modern optic, the community rose in outrage. Hundreds of names were gathered from the surrounding communities of Gardiner, Reedsport, and Winchester Bay, and the help of congressmen and senators was enlisted to keep the Fresnel lens shining. The Coast Guard eventually relented, and the chariot wheels were fixed in 1985. Douglas County took ownership of the lighthouse in early 2010 and leased the Fresnel lens so that its cherished icon will continue to operate as is. During a ceremony on April 14, 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard officially gave Douglas County control of the operation and maintenance of Umpqua Lighthouse and its coveted Fresnel lens. The first-order lens remains active, one of just a few in the country, and is even more unique on account of its red and white beams.The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

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