Heceta Head is named after the Spanish explorer Don Bruno
de Heceta, who passed the area during an expedition in 1775.
In 1862, the US Coast Survey formally named the point after
the Spaniard. However, the site was not designated for a
lighthouse due to the lack of anticipated commercial potential
for the region. When the site was finally selected for a
lighthouse in 1888, it was to fill the gap in navigational
aids between Cape Arago
and Yaquina Head.
Construction of the lighthouse was an arduous task, since the
lighthouse was extremely isolated. The first task was to build
a wagon road to the town of Florence. However, this road
was often impassible in the winter. Some building materials
were brought by sea, but unloading supplies was difficult
near the lighthouse site. If materials were unloaded further
away, they were transported overland with great difficulty.
The light was first lit in 1894. The tower was identical in
design to the Umpqua River
light. The 56-foot tower displayed a first-order Fresnel lens built
by Chance Brothers in England, which was unusual since most
US lenses were built in France.
Two residences were built - a single home for the principal keeper,
and a duplex for two assistant keepers.
Early keepers at Heceta Head did not stay long. However, some
did remain for extended stays. Olaf Hansen served at Heceta Head
from 1896 to 1902, and again from 1904 to 1920. Hansen served
as lighthouse keeper, postmaster for the small local post office,
and school board member for the school built nearby in 1916. Of the
fourteen children at the school, nine were from the lighthouse,
and six were members of the Hansen family.
The schoolhouse and post office at Heceta Head were built due to
the station's isolation. This changed in 1932 when construction
of the Oregon Coast Highway (US 101) linked Yachats and Florence.
The road passed the lighthouse, linking Heceta Head with
the nearby towns. Electricity reached the lighthouse in 1934.
The second keeper's position was deemed unnecessary, so both keepers
moved into the duplex, and the principal keeper's residence
was torn down.
The lighthouse received additional visitors during World War II.
Patrols assigned to the coast between Florence and Yachats
were stationed in barracks built on the site of the principal
The lighthouse was automated in 1963. The last keeper was Oswald Allik,
who was also the last keeper at Tillamook Rock.
The Coast Guard continued to maintain the tower, but the remaining
residence fell into disrepair. The residence was eventually leased to Lane Community
College. More recently, the residence was turned into a bed and breakfast.
Today, the lighthouse is part of Heceta Head State Park.
The residence "Heceta House" has been beautifully
restored and welcomes overnight guests year round.
Oregon's Seacoast Lighthouses, Gibbs pp. 95-97, 108
Umbrella Guide to Oregon Lighthouses, Nelson pp. 34-37