Newport’s Haunted Lighthouse

Come visit Coastal Oregon’s scariest lighthouse, if you dare!

Friday the 13th is the perfect time to visit Oregon’s most famous haunted lighthouse! For over a century, ghost stories have swirled around the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, and this is a great opportunity to see for yourself if the stories are true. But be warned, frightening and bizarre occurrences accompany many a visit to the lighthouse!

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was built in 1871, but decommissioned only three years later in 1874. Commonly believed to be the oldest structure in Newport, it is the only remaining Oregon lighthouse with living quarters attached, and the only wooden Oregon lighthouse still standing. The structure was vacant for over 80 years, until the Lincoln County Historical Society turned it into a museum in 1956.

The lighthouse was first said to be haunted around the turn of the 20th century, when it was rumored that a teenaged girl named Muriel and her friends had visited the abandoned structure. After finding a secret door inside the lighthouse, the friends had left the building, but Muriel vanished shortly after when she returned alone for her lost handkerchief. After discovering Muriel’s absence, her friends searched the lighthouse, but the only thing they found were drops of blood and her blood-stained handkerchief.

This account was based on a short fictitious story, “The Haunted Lighthouse,” published in an 1899 issue of Pacific Monthly. Although the article had been forgotten for years, the story took on a life of its own, and many sightings of the ghostly girl have been recorded over the past 120 years. Muriel is said to be trapped in the lighthouse, and has been seen looking out from the top of the light tower and from the windows of the living quarters.

Another ghost story associated with the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse recounts the tale of a whaling ship captain named Evan McClure, who was drowned when his ship crashed into nearby Devil’s Punchbowl during a raging storm in 1874. The old captain has been sighted many times at the base of the lighthouse, looking up to see the light that was supposed to have guided him to safety. Those who have witnessed Captain McClure say that he appears just as any living person would until he vanishes before their eyes. A variation of the story explains that the captain continued to follow the light of the lighthouse until his spirit became a part of it, and he then led many fellow sailors to safety.

There are a multitude of reports from lighthouse employees, locals and visitors of having seen either Muriel or Captain McClure throughout the course of the past century. Often, visitors to the lighthouse describe an eerie sensation and feel like they are being watched while inside the building, and some people have heard strange whispers. Still others have seen lights flickering on the second floor after dark.

Plan a tour of the lighthouse on Friday the 13th or during your next visit to Newport, and maybe you will see one of the ghosts or experience their mysterious presence! The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is open to visitors from 12 noon to 4 pm from the first of October to Memorial Day, and from 11 am to 4 pm from Memorial Day through the end of September. The lighthouse is closed Mondays and Tuesdays from November through February.