In winter, except for surf and wind – the coast slows down – few distractions, fewer folks around and many people like it that way. At the rocky headland called “Heceta,” – named for 18th century Spanish explorer Bruno Heceta, the landscape is marked a gleaming sentinel – a whitewashed wonder with a powerful light atop that can be seen for miles.
If you stop in at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint, be sure to spend some time with the state park volunteers – people like Ruth Philippson – who can tell you much about the area:
“Oh, it’s a jewel to work here as a volunteer because there are so many people here from just down the way: Reedsport, Florence, Newport – people come here to visit their lighthouse. They have such a sense of pride and want to share their own stories about the light, the headland and the park. They play right in their own backyard and that’s very cool.”
After you enjoyed the stunning views, be sure to join one of the volunteers or perhaps park ranger like Clay Courtright who can guide you deep inside Heceta Head Lighthouse.
Construction on Heceta Head Lighthouse began in 1892 and it was officially lit two years later. But there were few roads and horse and wagons transported all of the supplies, equipment and bricks – that was a two day journey from Florence; the nearest port that’s but 5 miles away. Three men crews were stationed at the remote site – but they were not alone, noted Courtright – for families accompanied the crews for a life of work and serious responsibility.
The fresnel (fre-nel) glass lens was shipped from England around the Horn and it needed constant care and cleaning – but it was the brightest, most powerful beam in its day and could be seen 21 miles out to sea.
Nearby, Carl Washburne State Park offers visitors plenty of elbowroom to stretch out and play in a quiet and out of the way parkland. It offers 58 sites for RV’s or trailers, plus two yurts for folks who like to camp, but don’t own the gear.
Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of nine lighthouses managed by Oregon Department of State Parks, but it is the only site where a keeper’s cottage is still standing. The keeper’s cottage is a private bed and breakfast where you can enjoy a longer stay. Michelle Korgan is the co-owner of the Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast that offers 6 rooms – each one of the rooms offers wonderful views to the ocean, the forest or the nearby lighthouse.
Editor’s Note: Grant’s Getaways is a production of Travel Oregon brought to you in association with Oregon State Parks, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and Oregon State Marine Board. Episodes air Fridays and Saturdays on KGW Newschannel 8 and Saturdays on Northwest Cable News Network.