The Tallest Lighthouse in Oregon Is a Towering 93-Foot Behemoth

Duluth lighthouse
Frank Kennedy MN/Shutterstock.com

Written by Mitchelle Morgan

Updated: July 25, 2023

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Oregon is a gorgeous west coast state, with some of the loveliest coastlines in the country. The state’s history goes back to the time of the Native Americans before it was colonized by the Spanish. Oregon is a thriving state with a vast economy that includes agriculture and logging.

Touring Oregon can be exciting since there’s lots to see and do. You can even glimpse the tallest lighthouse in the state!

What is the Tallest Lighthouse in Oregon?

The tallest lighthouse in Oregon is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse at 93 feet tall. It’s a significant and historic structure.

One interesting fact about the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is its location. It’s constructed on a mile of land that jets into the Pacific Ocean. Despite the harsh winds and rain, the lighthouse has stood majestic guiding ships for centuries.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse is located on the Oregon Coast, near Newport.USA

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon.

Initially, the light for the lighthouse was powered by burning whale oil. However, things have changed over the years. Today, the lighthouse is fully automated and relies on electricity for power. LED stacks now stand where once there were oil wicks. The lighthouse has a unique pattern of two seconds on, two seconds off, two seconds on, and 14 seconds off all day.

Where is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse Located on a Map?

Fancy a tour of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse? Well, head over to Lincoln County, the home of this historic structure. The lighthouse is strategically placed for maximum benefit to incoming ships. It’s situated at the mouth of the Yaquina River. Be sure to head toward Newport at Yaquina Head. Below is its location on a map.

History of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse

So, what was the reason for constructing the Yaquina Lighthouse?

The City of Newport was a major reason the Yaquina Lighthouse was built. In the 1870s, the city became a significant outpost for the fur trade and local fishing. It didn’t take long for the city to experience radical growth. It all came about because of the gold rushes in Alaska and California. In addition, settlers from the Oregon Trail were also arriving in droves, causing quite a buzz.

In 1871, the first Yaquina Lighthouse was built on a wooden bluff. It was above the mouth of the Yaquina River. The lighthouse aimed to overlook the Newport Bayfront and the expansive Pacific Ocean.

At that time, electricity wasn’t a major power source. So, the lighthouse operators used whale oil to light the wicks for the lamps. The lighthouse keeper always had to be present to ensure the light didn’t go off. From sundown to sunrise, the lighthouse was operational.

Since the lighthouse keeper was always on duty, they built a living quarter in the same building. This is unique since most lighthouses have separate living quarters in a nearby building.

In 1873, a new lighthouse, the Yaquina Head Light, was built to replace the former structure. This lighthouse continued to rely on whale oil until its automation in 1966. Head keeper Fayette Crosby ascended the 114 steps up the lighthouse on August 20, 1873. He was first to light the lighthouse’s wicks. This 93-foot lighthouse holds the title of the tallest in Oregon.

What Wildlife Lives Near the Yaquina Head Lighthouse?

The area in and around the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a safe refuge for different animals. It includes wildlife, birds, and fish. Let’s learn about the different wildlife in this part of Oregon.

Seagulls

Seagulls are one of the most popular birds in the world. You are likely to come across seagulls on every continent. They prefer places where they can find their favorite foods, such as near commercial fishing operations.

Coastal areas and beaches are a favorite habitat for seagulls. These are clever birds that live in colonies that vary in population from a pair to hundreds of birds residing together.

Regarding diet, the seagull enjoys meat, especially fish and other marine life. However, these birds will also eat plant matter and anything they see while scavenging. It’s common for a seagull to swoop down and snatch food from people.

During spring, the mating season kicks off for seagulls. The birds often migrate to warmer places during winter, then fly back once it’s spring. Mating pairs tend to stay together for life, and the female lays three eggs annually.

Song Sparrow

The next type of bird in this area is the song sparrow. In fact, this is one of the most common birds in the country. Song sparrows have the loveliest call, making them easy to identify when birdwatching.

Another way to identify the song sparrow is by its stocky body. It’s a medium-sized bird with a long tailfeather and a small, pointed beak. There’s no difference in size when comparing the male and female song sparrow.

The song sparrow inhabits different types of habitats in the wild, including forests, thickets, hedgerows, and edges of marshlands. Basically, any place that offers protection from predators like birds of prey and cats, is good enough for them.

Regarding reproduction, the male song sparrow initiates courting by entertaining a female with a unique dance. Once he wins her over, mating ensues, and she is off to build a nest. Female song sparrows lay up to six eggs and incubate them for 14 days.

Pelicans

Bigger birds also prefer living on or near the tallest lighthouse in Oregon. It’s easy to spot pelicans due to their unique bills.

American White Pelican near Yaquina Lighthouse

You can find pelicans near the Yaquina Lighthouse.

Pelicans are huge birds with a wide wingspan, long necks, webbed feet, and a large pouch underneath the mouth. Given their social nature, pelicans prefer to live in colonies rather than individually. They build their nests on the ground in areas that lack trees and bushes.

The pelican is a carnivorous bird whose favorite food is fish. However, they can still eat smaller animals and marine life like crustaceans. Eating is rarely a one-bird show as they prefer doing so in groups.

Monogamy among pelicans exists but only for one season. The males aim to attract the females during mating season. Nest building is the pair’s work as they prepare for the eggs and subsequent chicks. Mom lays up to six eggs and incubates them for 30 to 36 days.

Bufflehead Duck

The bufflehead duck belongs in the category of diving ducks. It’s a small and stocky bird with a large white patch at the back of its head. Often, the white patch forms a bushy crest as it extends from one cheek to the next.

Bufflehead ducks enjoy living in areas with water bodies like lakes or rivers. They build a nest in tree cavities in the area. These birds congregate socially when the weather is nice for fishing.

Spring, summer, and fall allow the ducks to dive for food. However, when the lakes and rivers freeze up, they eat plant matter.

Breeding season happens during spring. It’s common for females to return to the same nest as the previous year. Bufflehead ducks are monogamous, meaning they mate for life. Females lay six to 11 eggs per season.

Gray Whale

It’s common to spot a small population of gray whales near the tallest lighthouse in Oregon. The habitat for the whale is in the western and eastern parts of the Pacific Ocean.

A gray whale can grow to be 49 feet long and weigh 90,000 pounds. One noticeable feature is the pectoral flippers instead of dorsal fins. It also has humps.

The gray whale migrates during winter for food and adequate weather conditions. Often, the whale migrates 700 miles, either alone or in a group of up to 12. Individuals or small groups occasionally congregate for breeding and feeding.

Gray whales practice biennial mating, and both males and females are polygamous. Winter is the best time for breeding, after which the gestation period for the mammals is 12 to 13 months. Interestingly, a gray whale can live for up to 60 years.

Coho Salmon

Coho salmon or silver salmon are quite common in the Pacific Ocean. They belong to the Pacific salmon species and often inhabit the western coast.

It’s easy to notice coho salmon because they have dark-blue backs and silver sides. They move from saltwater to freshwater, where their appearance changes. The coho salmon in freshwater has a bluish-green head, bright-red sides, and dark spots on the back.

When it’s mating season, the coho salmon leaves the Pacific Ocean searching for freshwater. The females lay their eggs there during spawning, and hatching follows. Young coho remain in the fresh waters for up to two years before reaching the Pacific Ocean.

Sea Lions

Sea lions are hardy creatures that can survive in even the harshest places. These are smart animals. They enjoy mimicking humans and are capable of understanding some sign language.

It’s not uncommon to mistake sea lions for seals. However, one notable difference is that sea lions have ear flaps. They have short and coarse fur, and males have manes.

Some animals prefer living solitary lives, but not sea lions. They enjoy living in groups and are polygamous. Sea lions are migratory and always travel far and wide for food.

A sea lion can easily move from land to water and vice versa. They are efficient divers and can stay underwater for nine minutes. Usually, they’re docile and calm. However, they turn aggressive during mating season.

American Beaver

It’s quite common to see films of the American beaver at work. The beaver is a semi-aquatic rodent that transforms its habitat. They build dams, which have numerous benefits for the landscape.

The North American beaver has a stout body, a strong neck, short, rounded ears, an oversized head, a flat tail, webbed feet, and nimble hands. The beaver has a waterproof coat that’s beneficial given its semi-aquatic nature.

It’s quite common to find beavers at work constructing a dam. The purpose is to ensure the dam is ready during summer and early fall. As an herbivore, the beaver forages for plants and stores most of them for winter.

Beavers practice monogamy and remain faithful to their partner. Mating happens annually from January to March. The gestation period is three months, after which the mom gives birth to one to four kits.

Raccoons

Raccoons are clever creatures that show intelligence and enthusiasm. Sadly, these traits always land them in trouble as they conflict with humans.

One of the easiest ways to identify a raccoon is by the black markings around the eyes, which resembles a mask. Raccoons tend to be a gray color. However, there are a few albinos that exist.

The best time for raccoons to search for food is at night. These small animals have excellent night vision that aids them in the dark. During the day, they prefer to sleep in hollow trees, rock crevices, or small dens.

A raccoon can live for two to three years. Female raccoons experience a two-month gestation period. After that, they give birth to three to seven kits. Males don’t play any role in raising the young, who remain with the female for 20 weeks.

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About the Author

Mitchelle is a content writer who loves nature. She loves writing about animals and plants. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and going for nature walks.

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