Touristing on the Oregon coast in the fall is a mixed bag: the weather will be sunny and then rainy, and then foggy and cold, often in one day! So timing is important, and impossible to predict. Take last Tuesday, for example. I left my campsite on a sunny and warm day around noon and when I arrived at the road to the Cape Blanco lighthouse 30 miles south, I found nothing but fog. I couldn’t even see the road to the lighthouse, let alone the actual beacon of light supposedly able to save ships from the rocky coastline!
So today, when it was overcast and slightly drippy at my campsite, I aimed once more for Cape Blanco. Hah, fooled the weather gods long enough I got some photos, a tour of the inside, and was back in my car just as the first fat raindrops fell.
It’s a cute little lighthouse, with four windows in the machine room below the light providing beautiful views to the north, south, and west. Back in the day when the lighthouse keepers were humans, one person would stay in that room all night long, looking out those windows for shipwrecks and sounding the alarm if one was spotted.
The light itself is a second order Fresnel lens, 2 meters high and eight-sided, and it creates a flashing white light at 20 second intervals. Here’s when the light is flashing towards my camera.
Each side is a set of thick glass prisms, designed to capture as much light as possible and concentrate it into a single powerful beam that can be seen over great distances (ships at sea like this “see it from far, far away” stuff, trust me!).
Many of the old Fresnel light structures have been retired, replaced by more modern high-intensity lights, so seeing a second order lens made me quite happy because I love the old glass.
How rough is the weather at Cape Blanco? Well, this lens was installed in 1936, and sometime between then and now, lighthouse windows blew out in storms and damaged some of the prisms.
As with every lighthouse I love, the stairs are so cool, and I always have to take a picture of them! The bricks are the original ones created and fired on side when the lighthouse was built in 1870.
And to end our little tour, here’s the southerly view from the lighthouse, looking down the coastline towards Port Orford.