December 30, 2019 9:45 a.m.
The Umpqua River Lighthouse in Winchester Bay is celebrating its 125th anniversary on Tuesday.
The Douglas County Museum in conjunction with the Umpqua River Lighthouse, the Museum Foundation and the Museum Advisory Board are hosting the celebration. The free event will feature live music, wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres, and a photo gallery of images submitted through a photo contest organized by the Foundation.
Information from the Museum said the first Umpqua Light was built in 1855 and illuminated in 1857. It was recognized as the first light along the Oregon coast. Built along a river channel, it was vulnerable to seasonal flooding, gale force winds and violent storms. That led to the rapid erosion of the structure and it collapsed in 1864.
On December 31st of 1894, after four years of construction, Marinus Stream, the first head keeper of the new Umpqua River Lighthouse, lit the oil lamp inside the tower’s first-order Fresnel lens to begin the beacon’s career. This time the lighthouse was built on the cliff’s 100 feet above the river. It stands 65 feet tall and has a focal plane of 165 feet above sea level. The first-order Fresnel lens was manufactured in 1890. In 1934, a generator was built near the lighthouse and the station was electrified. The light was finally automated in the 1960s. It is active 24 hours a day and remains one of the last first-order Fresnel lens that has red and white beams and is still in operation.
The Umpqua River Lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It is located adjacent to the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park and the Coastal Visitor Center. The U.S. Coast Guard officially gave Douglas County control of the operation and maintenance of the facility in 2012.
Visitors can tour the lighthouse and the museum year-round. Tuesday’s anniversary event will run from 3:00 pm. to 6:00 p.m. Go to www.umpquavalleymuseums.org for more information.