Umpqua River Lighthouse, Winchester Bay, Oregon, USA by Chris Malone

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The Umpqua River Lighthouse sits high above the mouth of the Umpqua River along the southern Oregon Coast.

The lighthouse is presently owned, maintained and operated by Douglas County and tours are given by the Friends of The Umpqua River Lighthouse. The lighthouse went into operation on December 31, 1894 after numerous building delays that included clashes with the local Indian population, environmental and weather issues, and budget appropriations.

The lighthouse sits 165 feet above sea level and was built similar in design to a Cape Cod duplex, which has a tower and attached oil house. The Umpqua River Lighthouse boast a first-order Fresnel lens manufactured by Barbier & Cie of Paris, France in 1890. The lens has twenty-four bull’s-eye panels and completes a revolution every two minutes, producing a signature of two white flashes followed by a red flash. In 1934 a generator building was built and the lighthouse and station were electrified. The light was fully automated in the 1960's and ran from sundown to sunup. In 1983 the lighthouse needed some serious maintenance and the US Coast Guard decided to shut the lighthouse down, but after the local communities of Winchester Bay, Reedsport, and Gardiner protested, and the Coast Guard relented and provided the needed repairs. The Coast Guard gave ownership of the lighthouse to Douglas County in 2010 and on April 14th, 2012 officially gave ownership to the county in an official ceremony.

Douglas County now operates and maintains the lighthouse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days of the year, so that the public can still enjoy the cherished icon and keeping the first-order Fresnel lens active, one of just a few in the country, and is even more unique because of it's red and white beams.

Photographing the lighthouse is very easy because of a spacious parking area just in front of it. This photo shows the lighthouse in the fog which makes the white and red beams stand out. I took this photo using a tripod and a 2 second exposure. Fall and winter are perfect for finding foggy days or evening, but the spring and summer provide a great view of the light beams dancing on the tall trees located behind the lighthouse. The lighthouse in located just south of Winchester Bay, Oregon with easy access off historic Highway 101 along the Oregon Coast.


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