Built in 1939, the US Coast Guard station at Winchester Bay is home to the museum of the Umpqua River Lighthouse.
The Umpqua River Lighthouse at Winchester Bay towers over the beach where the Umpqua River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The 65-foot lighthouse was constructed in 1890 after the first Umpqua River Lighthouse, built in 1857, next to the river mouth, collapsed in a storm. The Umpqua River Lighthouse features a two-ton First Order Fresnel lens constructed from 616 glass prisms handcrafted in France.
Tours of the lighthouse are given daily from May 1 through October 30, 10 am to 4 pm by friendly docents from the Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum. Inside the museum you’ll find hundreds of documents, photographs, and artifacts that illustrate the story of the Umpqua River Lighthouse from its early existence as a Lifesaving Station to the U.S. Coast Guard station that sits on the same site today.
Umpqua Lighthouse State Park is immediately next to the Lighthouse and located less than a mile from the famous Salmon Harbor on Winchester Bay. The campground and developed day use areas are centered around beautiful Lake Marie. Access to this small freshwater lake is provided for angling and non-motorized boating. There is also a small sandy beach set aside for swimming or relaxing. Extensive camping areas and rental yurts are also available.
One of the principal rivers of the Oregon Coast, the Umpqua River is known for salmon, sturgeon, bass and shad. From its source high up in the Cascade Mountains, the Umpqua River forges through an expansive network of ridges and canyons, where numerous waterfalls can be seen. Continuing on down into Roseburg and the Umpqua Valley, the river then cuts through Oregon’s Coast Range and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Winchester Bay. Overlooking the Umpqua River bar, the red and white beams of the Umpqua River Lighthouse today still guide mariners safely into port. Across from the lighthouse, facing the Pacific Ocean is a Gray Whale ‘spy hopper’ station, compete with maps, charts and binoculars to spot migrating whales.
Visit the Oregon Coast Visitors Association for more information about whale watching.
On October 1, 1913 the Glenesslin was sighted under full sail on a calm sea and in perfect visibility, standing in dangerously close to the Oregon coast. With no apparent effort to change course, the vessel crashed head-on into the rocks at the base of Mt. Neah-Kah-Nie.
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