Come take a tour and see what it was like to live at the Keeper’s Residence
Preserving and sharing the structures and stories of Heceta Head Lightstation.
For more than a century Heceta Head Lighthouse has helped seagoers navigate the Pacific Ocean’s treacherous currents. The cape owes its name to Don Bruno de Heceta, who in 1775 embarked on a secret voyage for the Queen of Spain to sail up the West Coast. Due to the onslaught of scurvy, Heceta and his crew turned back just before the Columbia River, but not before he noted the shallow waters and rocky headland that now bear his name.
A century later, mariners frequenting the dark waters between Coos Bay and Newport asked for a lighthouse to guide their journeys up and down the coast. Heceta Head proved an ideal location, but the construction project in this isolated place was no small feat. In 1892, an order was placed with the Chance Brothers in England for a powerful First Order Fresnel Lens to be shipped to Heceta Head, where construction of two Queen Anne-style Lightkeepers’ houses and Lighthouse tower had already begun. Building materials were transported over a single lane wagon road or placed on rafts and pushed overboard at Cape Cove to float ashore with the incoming tide.
On March 30, 1894, the lighthouse cast its first beam. The first eight years were trying times for the three Lightkeepers and their families who lived in the little community of Heceta Head. Many Lightkeepers were unable to handle the sparse and isolated conditions and moved on. Head Keeper Olaf Hansen worked for over fifteen years to make the Lightstation a sustainable community. Olaf started the vegetable gardens, a schoolhouse and the Heceta Head Post Office.
Much changed in the 1930s, when Oregon finished construction of U.S. Highway 101 and the Lightstation received electricty. Motorist frequently traveled up and down the Oregon Coast, which ended the Lightkeepers’ years of isolation. Electricity allowed for a partially automated lighthouse, ending the duty of one Lightkeeper.
The 1930s ended with the retirement of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. Its successor, the U.S. Coast Guard, retired the Head Keeper’s dwelling and sold the house for $10. The salvaged lumber returned to Mapleton to build what’s now known as the Alpha Bit Store and Cafe.
During World War II, the Coast Guard Beach Patrol manned Heceta Head with 75 men. They guarded the beaches between Florence and Yachats with attack dogs and lived in 2 wooden barracks where the Head Keeper’s house once stood. From 1925 to 1950 Cap and Ma Herman witnessed all of these drastic changes. Cap opted not to take a Coast Guard rank and was the only civilian allowed on the property during the war.
After WWII, the Coast Guard continued to man the Lightstation as an aide to navigation. Two men and their families remained at Heceta. In 1963, Head Lightkeeper Oswald Allick witnessed the end of the era of Lightkeepers when the Lighthouse was automated and turned over to computers. The Keeper’s House was then turned over to the U.S. Forest Service.
From 1970 to 1995, the U.S. Forest Service leased the Keepers House to Lane Community College for use as a satellite campus. The wall dividing the two dining rooms was removed to create a classroom space. Students were able to enjoy the Oregon Coast while taking classes, retiring afterwards to the second floor, which was furnished with bunk beds.
When the Keepers House was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1973, the U.S. Forest Service looked for alternative uses that would allow the Keepers House to be more accessible to the public and to share the rich history. It was decided that a Bed & Breakfast would make this feasible.
Heceta Head entered a new era in 1995, when Mike and Carol Korgan were chosen to be the first Innkeeper’s for the Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast. As volunteers, the Korgans helped start the careful restoration of the interior. Now retired, their daughter Michelle continues to restore the Keepers House and invites the public to enjoy this National Treasure.
Volunteers will be available at the lighthouse tower 11-3 every day during the summer, staffing and weather permitting. Winter hours vary, so please check the Oregon State Parks website. The lighthouse observation area is open year round during park hours. To arrange a tour beyond the regular tour schedule, please call 1-541-547-3416. For more information, visit Oregon State Parks.
Heceta Lighthouse Gift Shop is located in the old generator room at Heceta Head Lightstation just below the lighthouse tower. Photographs and gift cards made by local artists are available in the storefront, alongside historical materials. Lighthouse and maritime themed items and handcrafted Christmas ornaments are available in the store and online. Beverages, snacks, and grab and go foods are also available during business hours. Revenue generated by the gift shop helps support the Interpretive Center and Restoration projects at the Lightstation.
For further gift shop information or questions, please call 541-547-5490 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Keepers of Heceta Head Lightstation (KHHL) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to share the story of Heceta Head Lightstation and to support the preservation and enhancement of the structures and grounds so they are accessible to all.
The Summer Raffle is open! Enter to win a 2 night stay at Heceta Lighthouse B&B, $100 gift card to Ona Restaurant and Lounge, and 2 tickets to Sea Lion Caves. Raffle tickets are also available at the Heceta Lighthouse Gift Shop. $5/ticket.
Another way to support Heceta Head Lightstation is to set up your Fred Meyer rewards card to contribute to KHHL. You can do that here.
Become a Member!
Become a KHHL member and give annually. All members receive 10% off Heceta Lighthouse Gift Shop purchases and will be notified of special events and offerings. Memberships starts at $25 per year. Donate online to become part of our membership family at the $25, $50, $100, $500 levels.
Become part of the KHHL Keystone Circle!
Contribute $1,000 or more throughout this year and be forever recognized as part of the KHHL Keystone Circle. Whereas Heceta Head Lightstation has a history since 1894 – KHHL is newly formed and we need your help. The goal of KHHL is to keep the lightstation story alive and to preserve the structures and grounds so they are accessible to everyone. This means fundraising to support the existing interpretive programming, purchasing supplies to help with displays, community outreach, maintaining The Lightkeeper’s Garden, making the buildings and grounds ADA accessible where possible, and more effectively preserving the records and artifacts of the lightstation. There are some big goals on our list and your gift of $1,000 will help build our foundation so we can apply for grants and more effectively operate.
PLANNED GIFTS CAN HELP SUSTAIN THE RESEARCH AND SHARING OF OUR KHHL EFFORTS
A planned gift is any major gift made in lifetime or at death as part of a donor’s overall financial and/or estate planning. There are different options available to leave a lasting legacy with a planned gift. Talk to your financial advisor to help decide what is best and how to go about making the best choice.
Bequests — Bequests are the most common form of planned gift, including designation in a Will or Trust.
Qualified Charitable Distributions — Giving from retirement accounts brings tax advantages to donors aged 70 ½ and older who must take required minimum distributions.
Donations of Assets — Shares of stocks, bonds, or physical assets like property are simple mechanisms that provide a meaningful impact to KHHL.
Donations of Life Insurance — Ownership of life insurance that is no longer needed can be transferred to KHHL.
Other — Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Gift Annuities, and other planned giving opportunities abound.
Or make a donation of any amount.
For more information contact 866-547-3696
Do you want to be a part of the dedicated group of people who care for the Lightkeeper’s House? There are several ways to help preserve this National Treasure. Tour guides, craftsmen, researchers and many other helpful hands make our Lightstation shine! Our volunteers feel enriched by their hard work and special connection to Heceta.
The Keeper’s house and the Lighthouse are always in need of tour guides to greet visitors and share our rich history! Over 24,000 people from across the globe visit the Lightstation every year. The free public tours are filled with people who are thrilled to learn about the Lightstation and the Oregon Coast. Tours are held at the Keeper’s house weekends during Oregon’s Spring Break and Memorial Weekend through Labor Day 11-3. Tours are also available during special events and by appointment throughout the year. If you are interested in giving tours at the Keeper’s house please contact 877-547-3696 or email@example.com.
For information on giving tours at the Lighthouse contact Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department 1-800-551-6949 or visit oregonstateparks.org.
The 129 year old Keeper’s House sits high above the Pacific Ocean. Salt air, high winds and moisture are a just a few of the challenges we encounter on the exterior alone!!! Year round projects are in the works and we need individuals of all levels of expertise to volunteer. We also maintain a culinary and display garden year round and always need helpers. Tell us about your strengths, we’ll find the job! Contact us at 866-547-3696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Revenue for restoration and maintenance of the Keeper’s house and Interpretive Center are generated entirely by the proceeds from the Bed and Breakfast, gift shop purchases, and donations to KHHL.
Give a piece of history to the Lightstation! We are always searching for historic images of the Lightstation. We have been blessed by many descendants of Heceta Lighthouse Keepers and area residents who have donated photos for our archives. We can always use more! We also collect any U.S. Lighthouse Service items, Victorian or period pieces that can be displayed in our Interpretive Center. Let us know if you are willing to give or sell any items that would help share the history of this area.
We also want to hear your story. Are you related to a Lightkeeper? Did you go to college here? How is your personal history connected to the Heceta Head Lightstation? Please email your story and contact information to Mary@hecetalighthouse.com.