Coquille River Lighthouse, Bandon, Oregon, USA by Chris Malone

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The Coquille River Lighthouse, originally named the Bandon Lighthouse sits at the northern mouth of the Coquille River next to Bandon, Oregon. The lighthouse went into operation in 1896 and served to mark the entrance to the Coquille River and help sailors navigate the shifting sand bars. The light also helped mark the mainland for ships sailing up and down the pacific coast. The lighthouse also incorporated a trumpet type fog horn

According to the "Light List" of 1900, the station was described as: A white, octagonal, pyramidal tower with black dome and lantern, attached to the easterly side of a white fog-signal building with black roof; white, one-and-one-half story, double dwelling, with brown roof, on sand dunes about 650 feet (1/10th mile) northwesterly from the tower, and a white barn 150 feet to the northward of the dwelling. Fitted with a fourth order fixed light 28 seconds, eclipse two seconds. Height of light above mean water, 47 feet. Distance light visible 12¼ nautical miles. Third class Daboll trumpet, blasts five seconds, silent intervals 25 seconds. To be changed to a first class siren. Height of tower above ground 40 feet.

The lighthouse has had a turbulent and sad history which ultimately doomed the light. In 1853 settlers established a small port town to take advantage of the growing gold, timber, and fishing industries. In 1873 a settler named George Bennett named the town Averille, but changed it a year later to Bandon which was the name of the town the Bennett family came from in Ireland. The Bennett family brought with them a shrub called Gorse, common in western Europe, and transplanted it across the local countryside. In September of 1936 a fire from a nearby logging operation which was slash burning, got out of control and the sweeping fire consumed and burned down most of Bandon. Although the town was rebuilt, trade for the area never really recovered and in 1939 the Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse. The new light which was automated and unmanned was placed near the jetty which sailors claimed was a better location for them. The lighthouse then fell into disrepair, plagued with vandalism and the effects of time, soon several fallen outbuildings had to be removed and the area became forgotten for many years, but in 1962 federal funding became available and 11 acres which included the lighthouse came under Oregon States control and was developed into the Bullard's Beach State Park. The lighthouse tower was repaired and opened to the public in the 1970's. A solar powered light was installed in 1991, but has ceased operation recently. The light presently remains dark, but rumors are being told that might change that status in the future.

This image was taken in the evening and shows the lighthouse in the foreground and the city lights of Bandon in the fog in the background. There was a full moon behind me which provided all of the ambient light. The image was shot at ISO 200, and an exposure of 14 seconds at f/4.

The lighthouse is easy to find, just north of Bandon, Oregon along highway 101. Turn west at Bullards Beach State Park and drive to the end of the road. The park is open dawn til dusk, and a night permit is required after hours. The lighthouse's location is perfect for sunrise and sunset shots and on July 4th the lighthouse can be used as part of the scene while photographing Independence Day fireworks.


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