June 15, 2024
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By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

The Cape Blanco Lighthouse has saved countless lives over the past 100 years by alerting mariners to the dangers in the region and showing them the way. When an Oregon Coast lighthouse in distress, who can save it?

This question has been asked right now, as the Cape Blanco Lighthouse of 153 years is badly in need of repairs and is actually at risk of being closed down or becoming a part of the privat sector. The lighthouse is already no longer open to the public. The damage has increased and the lighthouse will be closed in 2020. Cape Blanco Heritage Society, which manages and staffs the lighthouse with volunteers, describes its dire situation.

The location of this place is bad.

So the CBHS has launched a fundraising website, saveourlighthouse.net, and is hoping to raise some $682,000 for all the repairs required. This only covers lighthouse repair and does not cover the road or the possibility of the property being sold to private owners.

Cracks in the brickwork, repairing the metalwork, and recoating exterior are all issues. It is also necessary to remove all exterior paint and re-paint it as the current coatings are actually causing rusting and corrosion inside.

In 2020, cooperating partners had Sue Licht, an architect, come and assess the property. This assessment resulted in the quote of $682,000. Ironically, the german word “light” means “light”. There are actually many more things that need to be done.

This road is affected by a severe erosion that gets worse each year.

The CBHS is partnering with different groups, such as local tribes and agencies from the county, state and federal government, as well as Bureau of Land Management. The Society is not saying who these partners are.

CBHS Executive Director Rebecca Malamud Evans said that this is not good news for the future lighthouse. Many lighthouses in the U.S. are being auctioned off because the taxpayers can no longer afford to pay for them. If this happens with the south Oregon Coast gem and the lighthouse falls into private ownership, the access could be limited.

This has been a situation that’s existed since 2020, when an architect drafted an architectural plan which resulted in the first closure of the lighthouse,” Malamud Evans told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. The road washed away dramatically during this time, which is extremely concerning because the lack of a road would further restrict access to the lighthouse. As we continue to wait, the worse the situation will become. Some people are willing to offer solutions. “The cape is located on an area with geological faults and erosion, as are numerous lighthouses.

Oregon Coast history is full of last-minute lighthouse saves. One such example was the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Newport. It sat decayed and dilapidated for years until the 1970s. View Landmarks & Legends of a Oregon Coast Lighthouse: Newport’s Yaquina Bay Part I

Malamud Evans also cites the Green Ledge Lighting success in Connecticut, as a story that inspires her and gives hope.

She told Oregon Coast Beach Connection that a mid-October meeting between a number of cooperative partners will determine the next steps for Cape Blanco. I personally hope that Cape Blanco will be a continuation of the partnership we have because it is part and parcel of our story.

The Cape Blanco Lighthouse continues to be used by mariners. This should help Oregon officials prioritize it and keep it open.

She said, “I cannot imagine our lighthouse being shuttered for ever because it’s still used actively as a navigational tool.” It would be a tragedy for any lighthouses to close forever, as they represent a significant part of the history of our country. If the U.S. Government is selling lighthouses to avoid paying the cost, then we will need to fund the repairs ourselves, as the CBHS is a small non-profit located in a town with only 1200 residents.

CBHS stated that the lighthouse gate road presents particular challenges because it is impossible to build another that goes inland, as this could destroy archaeological sites at Cape Blanco. The short-term options would only last 40 years. A long-term solution is still needed.

You can help by donating to saveourlighthouse.net or spreading the word.

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