1871-1900 Yaquina Head Lighthouse Letter books


Box 247 1899 to 1900 JA land 4000 app 1866 reserved



All communications should be addressed to "The Light-House Board."

Treasury Department Office of the Light-House Board Washington, March 13, 1900

Nine enclosures.

Capt. W.C. Langfitt, U.S.A., Engineer 13th Light-House District, Portland, Oreg.


Referring to your letter of 18 Oct., '99, the Board transmits herewith, for your information, and for the files of your office, copies of the executive orders of the President reserving public lands for light-house purposes in the 13th Light-House District, at the following named places: ---

Umpqua, Oreg., reserved by executive order of 27 Dec., '59. Tatugh Point on Blake Island, Wash., reserved by executive order of 25 March, '69. Cape Johnson, Wash., reserved by executive order of 8 June, '66. Destruction Island, Wash., reserved by executive order of 8 June, '66. Cape Foulweather, Oreg., reserved by executive order of 8 June, '66.

Last edit almost 4 years ago by Wjhoward

1870-73 Lighthouse Board Annual Reports



1873 say that the manufacturers have templates for the posts, so that they can get the sizes and positions of the holes in the lantern posts exactly, but this is not the case in regard to the rafters. The manufacturers state that a Scotch drill complete, with all necessary drills and tools (to do the drilling by any ordinary workman) can be packed with the lantern posts and rafters and will cost eighty (80) dollars.

If you should conclude on receipt of this to do so, you can telegraph to the Board in time to order them.

Feb. 28 From Engineer Secretary Major G.H. Elliot To Major H.M. Robert Corps Engineers Sir: You will please report to the Board, at your earliest convenience, your opinion of the necessity of a Light House at the mouth of the river Umpqua, on the coast of Oregon, the interests of commerce and navigation such Light House would subserve; the proposed height of the focal plane if a Light House is built: and the estimated cost of the work.

You will please report, also, whether a screw-pile Light House which can be removed, when the shifting of the site upon which it is erected requires it (such a one as is used in eastern harbors and bays) would not, in your opinion be suitable for such a locality.

Your full investigation and report are requested.

Last edit almost 4 years ago by Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses

Coast Guard District narrative histories 1945



In the quite rapid succession, Umpqua River, Willapa Bay, Smith Island, Ediz Hook, Cape Arago, Cape Blanco, Point No Point, Point Wilson, and Yaquina Bay Lighthouses were built. In 1879, construction began on the Tillamook Rock Beacon.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was one of the most famous as well as one of the most exposed stations in the Lighthouse Service, set on a great precipitous rock lying a mile offshore from Tillamook Head on the Oregon Coast. A dark cloud of ill omen shadowed the station as, in the landing of the construction party, the superintendent was swept by a great wave into the sea and drowned. Almost insurmountable obstacles faced the engineers, for the entire top of the rock mass had to be blasted level to provide space for the lighthouse and its accompanying structures. Heavy seas continually washed over the Rock carrying away half finished foundations, equipment and endangering the lives of the entire work party. Although the light stood 133 feet above the water, on many occasions tremendous waves swept completely over the station carrying large fragments of rock which caused considerable damage to the station. On one such occasion, a rock weighting 135 pounds was hurled through the roof of the building and into the quarters below, causing extensive damage. Another time, the sea tossed a boulder through the lantern, extinguished the light and flooded the dwelling below.

West Point, built in 1881, Alki Point and Brown Point, built in 1887 and Destruction Island, built in 1891, were the next light stations to be erected. Here again, at Destruction Island, treacherous seas made landings difficult except in calm weather, so the "basket" and boom were again called upon for safe landings on the station. 14 other lighthouses were established in the Seattle District, the last being the Lim Kiln structure in 1914. Strangely enough, the Lime Kiln Lighthouse was the last light station in the District operating an oil lantern. An attempt was made to electrify the light by extending commercial power to the Station but the Power Company was unable to furnish sufficient current; in the same regard, poles had to be set in a solid rock and the cost and labor for this were almost prohibitive. A request was made for Headquarters' approval to install a power plant at the unit but this was not commensurate with Headquarters' policy so the light remained an incandescent oil vapor type. This type, familiarly known as i.o.v., gave good service although its range could not match that of the newer electric light. The old i.o.v. light came in two sizes and was approximately equivalent


Last edit over 3 years ago by Wjhoward


Causes of radiobeacon failures were generally easily repairs, but it was the duration of these failures which the District Coast Guard Office worked incessantly to overcome. Monitor stations experienced great difficulty, at times, in notifying an offending station of its inoperation due to the frequent inability to make radio contact with the radiobeacon station which necessitated routing the message through other stations or agencies. Heavy storms in the area destroyed telephone communication and on occasion, visual signals had to be relayed to certain stations. Alarm units, as noted above, were not perfected, so frequently radiobeacon stations were unaware of their defective operation until notified by the Monitor Station. Had there been some means for notifying, under all conditions, the radiobeacon station of its faulty operation immediately after the failure was detected, the duration of faulty operation would have been greatly reduced.

Although the radiobeacons in this District were not operating at 100% efficiency, it was the opinion of the District Office that the beacons were operating on a par with beacons throughout the continental United States. This was determined by the reports from mariners and airmen who used beacons as navigational aids and was also due to the determination of the Aids to Navigation Officer to increase the efficiency of the beacons.

A radiobeacon buoy with a working range from 7 to 50 miles had been developed and was considered in the 13th Naval District the year before the war. Trials were made on batteries in some of the rough waters along the coast and on the Columbia River Bar. The batteries proved too fragile so dry packs were tested; these, too, developed defects. As the packs cost $40.00 a piece, much experimentation proved too costly. The District Coast Guard Officer saw the advantage of a perfected radiobeacon buoy in that a string of such buoys along the coast, 15 to 20 miles apart on the 30 fathom curve, would eliminate the necessity of the UMATILLA REEF LIGHTSHIP; the removal of the Lightship would counteract the use of tenders servicing the equipment (buoys had to be serviced every 4 months), as well as the cost. The Aids to Navigation Officer and the District Coast Guard Officer were both in favor of the establishment of a radiobeacon buoy at Grays Harbor Entrance where there had been considerable agitation for a Lightship; this station was within easy run for the CGC MANZANITA. Had the buoy proved applicable to conditions at Grays Harbor, buoys could have easily been installed at Duntze Rock, Yaquina Bay, Tillamook Rock, Umpqua, Coos Bay and Wherever tender equipment was available.


Last edit over 3 years ago by Wjhoward



One of the most remarkable advances in inland marine navigation was that which tranferred the swirling waters of the Columbia river into 300 miles of navigable waterway. In 1805, when Lewis and Clark concluded their amazing trek to the Northwest Coast, vast portions of the Columbia River defied the explorers' attempts to transport their party and supplies on its broad expanse. Almost 140 years later, great ocean-going vessels were able to ply their way into Oregon and Washington river ports.

The wildness of the river lay in the swiftness of the water forming treacherous whirlpools and rapids over the shallow, jagged bottom. To eliminate this danger, two great projects were undertaken: The Bonneville Dam and the Celilo Canal. Although the canal was finished before World War I, river traffic to The Dalles, Oregon, and beyond, had ceased around 1916. In 1932, navigation in this section was revived for the transportation of wheat, but the service between the Upper and Lower ports was intermittent. This renewal of navigation was more or less on a trial basis to determine if sufficient commerce could be developed to support water carrier operation.

Sufficient traffic was realized and, after the construction of the Bonneville Dam which was completed in 1938, river traffic expanded into the movement of great steel barges designed to carry liquid petroleum in the hull and package or bulk cargo on deck. With this increase of traffic from Astoria, Oregon, beyond The Dalles, Oregon, the necessity of navigational aids to insure the mariner's safety became most apparent. As a result, the Seattle District centered the majority of its activities in the promotion of safe navigation along the river. Here was the proving grounds for experimental light structures and buoys to determine those most suitable for the area. Due to the rapid current, ranges marking channels had to be so perfected as to enable the mariners to ascertain his course in split-second timing.

The sheer steep cliffs of this area presented problems in erecting shore structures and the swift waters made the mooring of buoys almost impossible. Even before the consolidation of the Lighthouse Service and the Coast Guard, the problems of marking the river had been of primary importance to the Lighthouse Service and basic markings had been established along the banks. The last allotment made to the Service in 1939 was for the establishment of additional lights in the Columbia, Umpqua and Yaquina Bay. River traffic


Last edit over 3 years ago by Wjhoward
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