Heceta Head Light, Florence, Oregon, USA
© Tom Schwabel/Tandem Stills + Motio
A light in the coastal darkness. Heceta Head Light, Oregon, USA
Heceta Head Light is perched 205ft (62m) above the Pacific Ocean on the coast of the US state of Oregon. The headland is named after Spanish Basque explorer Don Bruno de Heceta, who led a secret expedition in 1775 to bolster Spain’s claim to the Pacific Coast of North America. Having sailed from Mexico, by the time the voyage reached these shores, the crew was ravaged by scurvy and Heceta made the call to turn back - but not before he became the first to map and record a written description of the mouth of the Columbia River as well as this rocky 1,000ft (305m)-high headland that would eventually bear his name.
By the 19th century, seafarers making their way up and down the coast needed a lighthouse to guide their way. Construction of the 56ft (17m) lighthouse was complicated by the steep cliffs and remote location, but the first light beam shone out on 30 March 1894.
The first lighthouse keepers at Heceta Head found the location too isolated and staff turnover was high until the 1930s, when the newly constructed Oregon Coast Highway was put into service and the area received electricity. The lighthouse became fully automated in 1963, and by 1970 the lightkeeper’s house became a satellite campus for a nearby community college. These days, the area is on the USA’s National Registry of Historic Places and the lighthouse keeper’s cottage has a new life as a bed and breakfast.