Cape Blanco Lighthouse
First Lit: December 20, 1870
Oregon’s Highest and Most Westerly
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Authorization & Land Purchase:
In a deed recorded in 1867, John D. and Mary West sold the United States a 47.3-acre tract of land. The Light-House board determined that the offshore reef and islands at Cape Blanco were dangerous to maritime commerce; therefore, a lighthouse was authorized for construction.
Over the next three years, the lighthouse was constructed under the direction of Lt. Col. Robert Stockton Williamson. Supplies were ordered and shipped to the cape. Bricks were deemed cheaper if made onsite, so a brickmaker was located and a deal was struck with Rancher Patrick Hughes for access to materials required.
Original Light Details & First Keeper:
December 20, 1870, H.B. Burnap, first keeper of the light assumed his responsibilities by lighting the lamp for the first time. According to original documents the focal plane was 256 feet above the mean level of the sea, and the light could be seen from the deck of a ship 22 2/3 nautical miles (25.697 land miles).
Many keepers followed Burnap, the most notable were James Langlois and James Hughes who served as keepers 42 and 38 years respectively. James Langlois raised a large family, while James Hughes, son of neighboring rancher Patrick Hughes, raised two girls.
Living Quarters Crowded:
For many years, Keeper Langlois requested additional housing for the station. With his large family, the Hughes family and the other families that came and went, the duplex was just too crowded. His requests went un-answered until 1909 when head keepers quarters were constructed.
James Hughes found his own solution before the government responded. James owned land across the Sixes River from his father, and quickly constructed a home for his family, moving from the lighthouse about the same time they finished additional lighthouse quarters. James continued to work at the lighthouse, commuting to assume his duties.
Life on the Cape:
Life was difficult on the cape, constant high winds during the spring and summer and severe storms of winter, kept the keepers busy with continual repairs and painting. It’s a true wonder that Langlois and Hughes stayed there until retirement!
Cape Blanco Tour Hours:
April 1 through October 31
Hours: 10 am to 3:30 pm