Digest>Archives> May 1996

Coquille River (Bandon) Light turns 100

Big Celebration planned

By Timothy Harrison


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The Coquille River Light in 1995.
Photo by: Bob Franklin

The folks at Bandon, Oregon, love their lighthouse and this coming month on June 28-30, they're going to show that affection as the Coquille River Light celebrates its 100th birthday.

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An early photo of the Coquille River (Bandon) ...
Photo by: Photo courtesy of Bullards Beach State Park.

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The three masted schooner C.A. Klose in 1903 when ...
Photo by: Photo courtesy of Bullards Beach State Park.

As is the case with many lighthouses around the country, which are never called by their appointed names by the locals, Coquille River is no different. The locals simply call it Bandon Light.

For a relatively young lighthouse (by lighthouse standards), the Bandon Light has seen more than its share of Oregon history.

The area was first visited by trappers who arrived in the region in 1826, however the first settlement wasn't until 1853. At the turn of the century the area not only prospered with its forest related industry but became a much sought after tourist destination and the term "Bandon by the Sea" became a household word.

When the Bandon Lighthouse first became operational in 1896 its first keeper was J. Frank Barker who was transferred from Heceta Head Lighthouse. The station had a long wooden walkway across the sand which connected the lighthouse to the Keepers Quarters which are no longer standing today.

On September 26, 1936 a devastating fire hit the town of Bandon. The lighthouse which is on the opposite side of the river escaped the fire, and from its station, many of the residents sought refuge. The fire which left only 16 of the 500 buildings in town standing literally bankrupt the community.

Although the locals began rebuilding, the area suffered a down turn with the decline of coastal shipping. In 1939 with the end of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, the Coast Guard discontinued the station.

As with other abandoned lighthouses the station was left open to the elements and vandalism for the next 30 years. It was finally in such bad condition it was thought it could never be saved and restored.

But restored it was, and it now even boasts a solar powered light from its tower which was relit during the 1991 Bandon Centennial celebration. Today as part of Bullards Beach State Park, the station is open to the public.

As part of the 100th birthday celebration this June 28-30 there will be lighthouse tours, a lighthouse artifacts display, living history story telling, lighthouse flea market, photo contest, bar-b-que, lawn concerts and much more. It sounds like a weekend you don't want to miss! After all how many 100 year old lighthouse birthday parties does anyone get to attend?

The extremely interesting stories surrounding this lighthouse could literally fill a book, so many we can't possibly relate them all here. However, to learn more about this rugged lighthouse we would recommend the book, Oregon's Seacoast Lighthouses, by James A. Gibbs. It is available from Lighthouse Depot as item #31519 for $14.95 plus 4.95 shipping by calling them toll free at 1-800-758-1444 or writing to them at P.O. Box 427, Wells, Maine 04090.

Happy 100th Birthday to the Bandon Light!

For additional information contact, Bullards Beach State Park, P.O. Box 569, Bandon, OR 97411 or call them at 541-347-2209 or you can fax them at 541-347-4656.

This story appeared in the May 1996 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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