Scenic USA - Oregon

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

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Cape Blanco Lighthouse - Port Orford, Oregon

Photo by Denny Barnes
Denny Barnes Photography

     Because construction is aided by modern technology and equipment today, it's nearly impossible to imagine building a lighthouse during the 1800s. Here at Cape Blanco, named by 16th century Spanish explorers, the lighthouse site made it even more difficult. Here in this remote area on the Oregon Coast there were no existing access roads or any type of safe harbor.
     Located along the southern coast, Cape Blanco juts out into the Pacific for a mile and a half. The large headland with 200 foot cliffs made lighthouse construction a challenge. Choosing to manufacture 200,000 bricks on site to avoid transportation costs resulted in more problems. The first batch of bricks, deemed only fair, were barely acceptable. When the second batch was rejected, more brick had to be shipped in to complete the project. Upon delivery to the beach at Cape Blanco a strong storm drove the ship on shore and the building materials were lost. Despite the string of setbacks, a first-order lens was installed, completing the lighthouse in December 1870.
     Built on a 47 acre parcel of land, the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, oil house and a duplex light keeper residence were built over a three year period. Although the light keeper’s life was difficult here and relatively lonely, two consecutive light-keepers and their families stayed on duty for eight decades.
     Still in use today, this historic lighthouse is open every day (except Monday) for tours from April through October. Coastal hiking trails, campground, picnic tables and a horse camp round out Cape Blanco State Park amenities.

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