3 Feature: Featured

Lighthouse gets fresh look

Workers are applying a new mineral coating to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, as the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area reopens to vehicular traffic for the first time since March.

First lit in 1873, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest in Oregon, at 93 feet. It’s built of brick, which is covered with a brown slurry material similar to stucco. That material is coated with a white mineral layer. On the westernmost point of the basalt headland, it’s exposed to some of the roughest of natural elements, especially during winter and on its southern face, requiring it to be resurfaced about every five years, according to Paul Tigan, field manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s St. Mary’s Peak field office, which oversees operations in Lincoln, Polk and Benton counties.

Workers began last week by cleaning dirt, moss and old coating from the structure. Once the surface dries, Tigan said, they’ll begin applying the new mineral coating. He said the approximately $145,000 contract stipulated completion by Sept. 14, but he expects work will be done before Labor Day.

“We’re using a new product this time, and we did some test patches over the winter, and it performed really well on the south side of the building, so we’re really excited to get it up,” Tigan said. He noted that the surface might look brownish while cleaning is underway, but assured the public that the lighthouse is not being painted brown — the finish will be bright white.

The bureau began allowing cars back onto the site last Thursday, Aug. 6, limiting the number of vehicles permitted through the gate at any one time to keep a lid on crowds. The interpretive center is still closed, as is Cobble Beach, and the area around the lighthouse is closed to facilitate the current resurfacing work. The site’s trails and Quarry Cove are accessible.

Tigan said, “What we’re trying to do is give people the opportunity to access the site and also maintain CDC precaution levels for people, as well as our employees, to enjoy the site safely.” He said they had not yet made a decision about when they might open the interpretive center or the lighthouse building itself to visitors. “We were in consultation with Lincoln County about even opening up the site for cars. We really want to respect the balancing act that everyone’s trying to do in terms of providing opportunities for people to recreate and also not encourage people to come from everywhere to Yaquina Head and be an oversized draw to Lincoln County. I think these cars but not inside buildings is probably going to be the norm as Lincoln County transitions toward phase two, and I wouldn’t expect a significant change in our strategy when phase two comes to Lincoln County.”