For more than a century Heceta Head Lighthouse has helped seagoers navigate the Pacific Ocean’s treacherous currents. Located 13 miles (21 km) north of Florence, and 13 miles (21 km) south of Yachats, it was built in 1894, and took many years to complete because it’s so high up (almost 62 meters above water). The 17 m-tall lighthouse shines a beam visible for 21 nautical miles (39 km; 24 mi), making it the strongest light on the Oregon Coast.
Heceta Head is named after the Spanish explorer Bruno de Heceta, who in 1775 embarked on a secret voyage for the Queen of Spain to sail up the West Coast. Due to the onslaught of scurvy, he and his crew turned back just before the Columbia River, but not before he noted the shallow waters and rocky headland that now bear his name.
Before him, it was a spot of frequent fishing and hunting by the American Indian tribes that populated the area. Heceta Head is part of the Siuslaw Indians’ traditional lands, known in their language as ɫtúwɪs.
They hunted sea lions in the area and gathered sea bird eggs from the offshore rocks, but It was also the site of a legend: there the Animal People built a great stone wall, which is now the cliffs, and tricked the Grizzly Bear brothers to their deaths there.
In 1888 white settlers moved into the area and claimed 164 acres of the surrounding land.
That same year, the United States Lighthouse Service approved the building of the lighthouse. Heceta Head proved an ideal location, but the construction project in this isolated place was no small feat.
In 1892, an order was placed with the Chance Brothers in England for a powerful First Order Fresnel Lens to be shipped to Heceta Head, where a crew of 56 had already begun the construction of two Queen Anne-style Lightkeepers’ houses and Lighthouse tower. Because of the site’s seclusion, materials were either shipped in if the weather and tide permitted, or brought from Florence by wagon usually taking four or five hours.
Completed in August 1893, on March 30, 1894, the lighthouse cast its first beam.
The light was automated in 1963, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 for its architectural and engineering significance.
Today the magnificent Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast is nestled on its cliff above the ocean.
For decades, it served as a house for lighthouse keepers and their families and, over the years, the building has also become known for its spooky past as many believe the spirit of a lighthouse keeper’s wife is still there.
She is identified by her long silver hair and dark colored dress, and she has been described as annoyed by the visitors and changes that enter her home.
However, the ghost seems to be friendly.
She lived here with her husband and two children, and supposedly one of her children drowned, but nobody know if in the ocean or in the cistern.
They call her Rue, ever since a group of Lane Community College students pulled out a Ouija board and asked if anyone was there.
And apparently there was Rue, despite there’s no way to verify it, as the lives of women were not well documented back in those days.
In any case she has been reported to help tidy up the lighthouse when the keeper is working, and people have reported seeing “The Grey Lady” in the lighthouse window, along with hearing her scratching and knocking against the floors and walls.
Apparently, when one worker accidentally broke a window from the outside, before he could enter the top of the lighthouse to clean up, he found that all of the shattered glass had been neatly swept into a pile.
Moreover, an unmarked grave has been discovered on the lighthouse grounds. Many believe it is the baby of Rue and the reason she still haunts the building to this day, only adding to the mystery.
Images from web – Google Research