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Umpqua River Lighthouse


Located at the mouth of Winchester Bay, the first Umpqua River Light was built in 1855 and lit two years later. 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, causing the structure to collapse. In 1888, Congress approved of a construction of a new light.

The new light was first lit in 1894, at the same time as Heceta Head Light, both lights were virtually identical. The new Umpqua River Light was built 100 feet above the river, safe from flooding, and was partly due to the Lighthouse Board's insistence that ships be able to plot a course based on visible lighthouses. The original light was not visible at sea but the new light used a clockwork mechanism to rotate its Fresnel lens, which became automated in 1966. The rotation mechanism served in the light for 89 years before it finally broke down.

The Coast Guard, in charge of the light at this point, and removed the broken mechanism. It wanted to replace it with a new one, but strong public outcry forced those plans to be aborted. In 1985, the old mechanism was returned to its position after being fully restored.The structure is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors can tour the lighthouse and adjacent Coastal History Museum, located in the historic U.S. Coast Guard station and featuring exhibits on the lighthouse, local history and the U.S. Coast Guard history on the Umpqua River.

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A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Umpqua River Lighthouse

The U.S. Office of Coast Survey in 1849 selected the mouth of the Umpqua River as one of the first sixteen lighthouse locations for the West Coast, becoming Oregon’s first lighthouse.

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  • Umpqua River Lighthouse
  • Winchester Bay
  • (541) 271-4631