Journey to Alaska Episode 05 – Cape Disappointment, Washington

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Journey to Alaska Episode 05

Join us in this episode, “Our 2019 Journey to Alaska Episode 05”,  where we travel from Florence Oregon to Nehalem Bay Oregon and explore a couple of lighthouses along the Washington coast.

You can also follow our journey on YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook

Day Tripping to Washington

Astoria Bridge

We took a short day trip to Long Beach, Washington from our campground in New Nehalem Bay, Oregon. After crossing the 4-mile bridge at Astoria Oregon we made our way to Cape Disappointment to check out the lighthouses.

This is something we wanted to do last summer while we were in Washington but just never made it back. So this time it was on my list of must-sees. Cape Disappointment is only about 1 hour from our campground in Nehalem Bay, Oregon.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Facts

The lighthouse at Cape Disappointment was put in service in Oct of 1856. To guide ships into the mouth of the Columbia River.

The brick tower at Cape Disappointment stands fifty-three feet tall has a focal plane of 220 feet above the sea and tapers from a diameter of fourteen feet four inches at its base to ten feet six inches at the lantern room.

The station was also supplied with a 1,600-pound fog bell but it was found to have little value due to the roar of the surf and the distance at which mariners needed to hear it.

Lighthouse Hiking Trail

The trail to the lighthouse is noted as being a difficult hike. We didn’t find it all that difficult however it does have some steep inclines along the way. We just took it slow and enjoyed the walk.

More details about this hike can be found here

Take this nice hike to the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast, explore bunkers of an old military fort, wander through coastal forests, and take in spectacular vistas, including breathtaking ocean views.

There is even a beach you can cool off along the way.  There were families enjoying lunch and playing on the beach.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Fort Canby

Unaware that a fort once stood here at the cape we were pleasantly surprised to stumble upon what remains of Fort Canby. Fort Canby was established in 1863 during the U.S. Civil War at Cape Disappointment to protect the mouth of the Columbia River.
Fort Canby
The fort consisted of 3 gun batteries holding a total of 22 guns. The post also had a single two-story barracks, 3 small framed officers quarters a guard house and a small 8-bed hospital. The fort was deactivated in March of 1947.
Fort Canby

A Second Lighthouse?

The lighthouse at cape disappointment was really neat but it wasn’t all that
successful in its time. Even with the lighthouse ships continued to run aground at the mouth of the Columbia, coined the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”
Due to the sheer number of shipwrecks, it was determined a second lighthouse
was needed approximately 2 miles away on the northwestern spur of
cape disappointment commonly referred to as North Head.

North Point Lighthouse

North Head Lighthouse

On May 16, 1898, the North Head Lighthouse was put into service as the primary navigation aid at the mouth of the Columbia River.

North Point Lighthouse

Today, the North Head Lighthouse still stands as a sentinel overlooking this
treacherous body of water, the confluence between the Columbia River and
The Pacific Ocean.
The North Head Lighthouse is still an active aid to navigation, although the lighthouse keepers who once tended the flame have been replaced by an automated beacon.
The lighthouse offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Long Beach Peninsula, Columbia River Bar, and the northern Oregon Coast.

 

North Point Lighthouse

You can tour the lighthouse and other buildings at the site are possible however, these buildings are currently undergoing renovation and are closed to tours. A bit disappointing (no pun intended) but we still had a great time walking around the grounds admiring the views.
After a beautiful afternoon of driving along the Oregon Washington coast and
hiking our way to two lighthouses we were ready to head back to the campground.

 

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