Umpqua River Light, Winchester Bay

Umpqua River Light, Winchester Bay

by | May 28, 2019

The Umpqua River Light is located at the mouth of the Umpqua River on Winchester Bay near Reedsport, Oregon. In 1849, the mouth of the Umpqua River was selected as one of six sites for a lighthouse in the Oregon Territory. Many thought the Umpqua River would become a major shipping port based on the timber industry. Shifting sand bars and turbulent currents at the river mouth created a hazard for ships and a beacon marking the river entrance was greatly needed.

The first lighthouse was built along the river channel and completed in 1857. But seasonal river flooding and an unstable sand embankment caused severe erosion under the foundation and in October 1863, the lighthouse collapsed. Construction on a new light started in 1892 and was completed in 1894. The new light was built at an elevation of 100 feet (30 m) and 0.5 mile (0.8 km) from the river and ocean. The new light used a clockwork mechanism to rotate a unique 1st order Fresnel lens with red and white beams of light. The light was automated in 1966. The rotation mechanism served in the light for 89 years but in November 1983 the chariot wheels wore out and a temporary rotating beacon was installed on the tower to replace the lens. In 1985, the Coast Guard restored the original mechanism and the lens went back in operation.

In 2010, Douglas County took ownership of the lighthouse and leased the Fresnel lens from the Coast Guard. The lighthouse is now adjacent to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park and the Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum located in the historic former Coast Guard Station Umpqua River. The light continues to operate as an aid to navigation and the 1st order lens is one of the few remaining in service. Read more here and here. Explore more of the Umpqua River here:

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This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2019 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

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