Visit the Historic Oregon Coast Lighthouses

Driving up or down the Oregon coast is truly a trip into history. Top that off with some of most scenic views you’ll find anywhere in America.

The Oregon Coast Highway 101 runs from north to south from historic Astoria to Brookings, an old redwood logging company town back in 1913 near the California border.

Lighthouses along the Oregon coast were mostly constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1870 and 1896.Lighthouses along the coastlines were quite important to mariners whether you were captaining a large commercial vessel or a small fishing boat. The lighthouse was used as a navigational beacon to confirm the vessel’s position as well as to guide it away from dangerous rocky outcroppings.

Beginning in 1939 the U.S. Coast Guard took over guardianship of the lighthouses. All nine of Oregon’s surviving lighthouse stations are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

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Haceta Head Lighthouse

This lighthouse was named after Don Bruno de Heceta, a Spanish explorer. Heceta Head lighthouse is located north of Florence, Oregon.

The lighthouse was first lit in 1894 and stands 56 feet high and 205 feet above the ocean surface. To visit the lighthouse today requires about a half mile hike. Along the way you’ll see seabird nesting sites and a nearby Bed and Breakfast located in the assistant keeper’s home.

The short 1/2 mile hike to the top of the lighthouse from the parking lot is well worth the effort. At the lighthouse you’ll have spectacular views. The Heceta Head Lighthouse is open daily May-September and Friday-Monday during March, April and October.

Coquille River Lighthouse

lighhouses on oregon coast
Coquille River Lighthouse

The Coquille River Lighthouse, the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon coast, was built in 1896. The main purpose of this lighthouse was to guide mariners across treacherous sandbars navigating into the Coquille River at Bandon, Oregon.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1939 after the U.S. Coast Guard took over the facility and decided it was no longer needed. To help navigation today, improvements to the river channel were made. Today’s navigation aid is an automated light on the south jetty.

The tower and interior of Coquille River Lighthouse are open to the public daily from about 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from mid May through September.

Umpqua River Lighthouse

The Umpqua River Lighthouse is located over the beach where the Umpqua River flows into the Pacific Ocean at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, South of Reedsport.

historic oregon lighthouses
Umpqua River Lighthouse

The lighthouse was built in 1890 and is 65 feet high. This replaced a lighthouse on the site which was built in 1857 as Oregon’s first lighthouse but was destroyed during a storm. The Umpqua River Lighthouse has a two ton First Order Fresnel lens constructed from 616 glass prisms handcrafted in France.

Visitors can tour the lighthouse daily year-round, 9 am to 6 pm. Tours are given by docents  from the Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum. Inside the museum you’ll find hundreds of documents, photographs, and artifacts that illustrate the story of the Umpqua River Lighthouse. Today the site is used as a U.S. Coast Guard station.

Related Trips Into History articles are found on the links below..

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Ninety Six foot tall Yaquina Head Lighthouse was constructed in 1873 shortly after the town of Newport, Oregon was founded. It was operated at first by the  U.S. Lighthouse Board which changed to the U.S. Lighthouse Service until that department was closed in 1939. After the closure the site was taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard. This lighthouse was automated in 1966 and still operates now.

yaquina head lighthouse oregon
Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Of special note is the fact that the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the only existing lighthouse in Oregon where the light keeper’s living quarters was in the same structure as the light itself. Another interesting fact was that the lighthouse was scheduled for demolition in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s but was saved by the town and historical societies.

The lighthouse was restored in 1974. Today the lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse is open for limited ranger led tours, as weather, conditions and staffing permit. Reservations are required. You can call 541-574-3100 for the latest visitor information.

The Preservation of Historic Oregon Lighthouses

These are just four of the eleven lighthouses along the Oregon coast. As mentioned above, some of these lighthouses were scheduled for demolition but were saved by the efforts of historical societies, preservation societies and local governments.

It’s estimated that Oregon’s historic lighthouses receive over 2.5 million visitors yearly. Because weather along the coast can deteriorate structures over time, the need for donations to help preserve these important historical sites is an ongoing effort. A good site to visit regarding lighthouse preservation is

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)




A Must Stop On The Oregon Coast / The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

There are many scenic train rides available all throughout the U.S. and the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad is one of them and one you’ll not want to miss.

oregon scenic railroad
Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad Steam Engine

Here is a railroad that will give you spectacular Pacific Ocean views via their historic 1910 Heisler steam locomotive. The main ride will take you from Garibaldi, OR to Rockaway Beach, about five miles distance each way.

Also offered at times are romantic dinner trains that will take you farther north to Wheeler, OR. There are also special holiday excursions, the most popular being the Fireworks Spectacular on July 4th.

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad History

The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad is a section of the old Port of Tillamook Bay railroad line that extends the Tillamook Air Museum through Garibaldi, Rockaway Beach, and Wheeler.

oregon coast sightseeingThe railroad which came through in 1911 boosted the economy of the handful of small towns dotting the Pacific coast.

The new railroad allowed a way for dairy and lumber to get to larger markets. The timber industry thrived. Logs could be transported all the way to west Portland which was expanding rapidly. Another benefit of the railroad was that people could travel down to the beaches on the coast without trying to navigate challenging roads.

The 1930’s with it’s economic woes caused the railroad to decline but during the 1950’s the good old days returned. Lumber again was in great demand. With the improvement of highways short line railroads all over the country went into decline, especially passenger routes, and lumber and other goods could reach markets much faster with trucks.

The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad was established in 2003 and these wonderful tours began.

Sights to See in Garibaldi, Oregon

Before or after your train ride up the Pacific coast, there is plenty of history to see in Gariibaldi.

pacific coast sceneryWhen you’re driving through town you’ll see an old smokestack. Perhaps you’ll wonder why it wasn’t torn down. Well, this smokestack, built in 1927, is the last remaining item of the old Hammond Lumber Company. Hammond built the tall smokestack to spare the residents the smoke coming from his sawmill. Although at one point the city considered tearing it down for safety reasons. It was not and to keep it from deteriorating more the old smokestack was enclosed in fiberglass.

Another interesting stop in Garibaldi, Oregon is the Garibaldi Maritime Museum. The museum states..”The museum is chartered to preserve the maritime heritage of the Pacific Northwest by collecting information concerning Captain Robert Gray and Captain Robert Gray’s historical vessels, the Lady Washington and the Columbia Rediviva”. In addition to displays regarding the 18th Century sailing world, the museum has a wing devoted to the founding and history of Garibaldi.

Additional related articles from Trips Into History can be found on the links below…

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Great Stops Along Oregon’s Columbia River

oregon pacific coastlineIn addition to all of the fun activities in Gariballdi, the Oregon coast can be one of the best places to whale watch.

South of Garibaldi in the Depoe Bay area whales can be seen about ten months out of the year. Whale watching boat excursions are available and if you just happen to be on the shoreline in this area you’ll likely see whales spouting water as they search for food not far off shore.


things to do in oregon







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Rockaway Beach, Oregon








(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)


The Wild West is Alive at the Old Tucson Studios

The Movie Studio that Arose from Desert

tucson studios toursDuring the early days of western film making there were certain areas in the western U.S. that the movie studios chose to shoot their movies. This was the time when movie producers decided to shoot westerns on location as opposed to only on sound stages.

One popular area chosen was just north of the city of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. At that time they would pay a rancher a fee for use of ranch land. This was the catalyst for what we call “movie ranches”  to pop up. Today that area north of L.A. is covered with suburban neighborhoods.

old tucson studios structures The $2.5 million film, starring William Holden and Jean Arthur is why the studios are there today.

Interestingly enough, the movie site just west of Tucson was unused for several years when the “Arizona” filming wrapped up. The next filming was not until 1945 when “The Bells of St. Mary’s” with Bing Crosby was filmed there. A Gene Autry movie was shot there in 1947 and activity thereafter picked up substantially. Going into the 1950’s, the western genre took off and several well known western movies and television shows used the Tucson Studios.

Revisit the History of Western Movie Making at the Old Tuscon Studios

The Old Tucson Studios located just west of the city is one of the best travel stops you’ll find in the entire state. Arizona is filled with great travel attractions and plenty of history and the Old Tucson Studios is one of them.

The Old Tucson Studios was the location for many a western movie during the heyday of the westerns. Think of some of the more popular western movies and television series of the era and chances are a great many were filmed at, or shot in part at the Old Tucson Studios.  In all, there have been some 400 films and commercial productions shot at the Old Tucson Studios. The studios are authentic and fascinating and remain the regions premiere film location. The theme park offers lots of history to be shared about the west. Movies were filmed here with starts like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, William Holden and Ronald Reagan just to name a few.

Exhibitions and Shows

Today, the venue features authentic old western buildings that were used during the filming of some of your favorite westerns. You may very well recognize the old mission which was used in the movie “Tombstone”.  In addition, there are exhibitions and shows put on which makes your visit even more fun. There are shows about every half hour or so plus three reenactment gunfights per day. During these reenactments you’ll even pick up some film making secrets. You might get answers to questions that start off.. “How did they do that?”. Great fun for the entire family.

You could spend the entire day at the Old Tucson Studios. A list of events, times and a map are given to you when you purchase your admission ticket. This venue attracts tourists all throughout the year. The Tucson Studios might also give you a glimpse of what Tucson would have been like during the latter 1800’s.

tucson arizona attractionsThe Old Tucson Studios is located West of Tucson. Take I-10 East, exit on Speedway Boulevard and head West. Just keep going, it’s a long way. You will cross Gate’s Pass and come down out of the mountains. Turn South on Kinney Road and follow the signs. Address is 201 S. Kinney Rd, Tucson, Arizona. Hours are 10A-4P but call before you go to confirm…520-883-0100

old tucson movie studiosthings to do in Tucsontop arizona attractions