In 1852, the Umpqua River mouth was the only site in, what is now, the state of Oregon to be cited by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey as a prime location for a permanent aid to navigation. With the California Gold Rush developing to the south, the river became an important shipping route to the “gold fields” of the Oregon Territory and California.
The Umpqua River Lighthouse, which was initially built as an aid to shipping, is doing so again. On Thursday, July 21st, the United States Postal Service released a commemorative stamp series of Pacific coast lighthouses by artist Howard Koslow.
When asked why the Umpqua River lighthouse had been chosen, dedicated lighthouse volunteer GayLyn Bradley replied, “Of the five lighthouses chosen, the Umpqua River Lighthouse was the only one that actually has the traditional shape of a lighthouse. All the other lighthouses in the series have flat sides which makes our beacon distinctive with its round tower and signature light.”
A major point that led to the Postal Service’s selection of the Umpqua River Lighthouse was the facility’s preservation. The lighthouse lantern’s 616 glass prisms are cleaned and checked regularly by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation Team. The original glass pieces are made of crown glass. The First-Order Fresnel Lens is has been kept in perfect working order and daily tours enable visitors to come and see the light in action. “With all the different pieces, the lantern really looks like a work of art,” Molly Fisher said, looking at the lens.
The stamp’s release (on July 21st) coincided with the Umpqua River Lighthouse’s Celebration after extensive renovations and additions to the lighthouse facility. The lighthouse’s windows and doors were all replaced by the JELD-WEN Company of Portland, Oregon. Along with the structural changes, a fireplace display was added and the lighthouse’s workroom exhibit was completed.
“Our season is only six months long, but we still average around 25,000 visitors each year,” Bradley says with a smile. “We hope that this recognition by the U.S. Postal Service will encourage even more people to come see our beautiful lighthouse.”
This story appeared in the
August 2007 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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