Lighthouse lens celebrates 123rd birthday March 30

Heceta Head Lightstation will host free community party

One of Florence’s most famous destination locations is inviting the community to a birthday party — and the guest of honor is 123 years old.

On Thursday, March 30, Heceta Head Lightstation is celebrating the most important component of the Heceta Head Lighthouse — its lens — which arrived in March 1893.

It was an arrival that changed the course of history for Florence and the state of Oregon.

The Lighthouse Birthday Party, which will take place between 4 and 7 p.m., is the brainchild of Misty Anderson, manager and event coordinator for the Heceta Head Lightstation Bed and Breakfast.

The party is intended as a celebration, an opportunity to learn some local history and to get a start on the spring season.

Anderson is hoping to share the history and beauty of the lighthouse while cel-

ebrating its present.

“I found out that the light was originally lit and everything started here on March 30,” Anderson said. “And the lighthouse is this amazing beacon. It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to our area every year, so I decided we should have a birthday party celebrating its arrival.”

The Fresnel lens that focuses and emanates the light that ships and tourists see from miles away, is still in operation, attracting visitors and warning sailors for more than a century.

While the party is “focused” around the lens, Anderson hopes the party will also be  a networking opportunity for local businesses and residents.

“We have some great local partners involved with the party. Travel Lane County will be here with their volunteers helping us. ... A lot of people are volunteering  their time and donating products to make this event a success,” Anderson said.

Other supporters include Taylor Sausages, who will provide hot dogs; NW Adventures Quest, who will shuttle guests from the parking lot to the lightstation; and Destination Events, who will be bringing a popcorn machine and hot dog roller.

Scheduling the birthday party is one of the first steps Anderson is taking in increasing the options available to visitors to the bed and breakfast and to the central coast in general.

“Our Bed and Breakfast is a ‘Bucket List’ adventure for a lot of our guests. So I want to package all of these types of adventures together,” she said. “So we can say to our visitors, you can go for a horseback ride on the beach or go for a helicopter ride along the coast, and all of these things tie in perfectly with what we are doing in this area.”

Heceta Head Lightstation uses a lens developed by Augustin Fresnel in 1822. It  uses the refractive properties of light to dramatically increase the intensity and throw distance of the light’s beam. This made the Fresnel Lens the perfect fit for the Oregon coast.

At the time of the len’s purchase, it was the most expensive single element of the construction, and it took more than a year from the time the lens was purchased until it was delivered.

Originally, the lens was powered by oil lit lamps but these were upgraded to electricity in 1939.

The Heceta Fresnel Lens is still considered an amazing accomplishment of engineering. It is composed of eight panels with 24 sections which are made up of 392 2-inch prisms. It is 12 feet tall with a six-foot diameter and weighs just over six tons.


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