Sunday, August 31, 2008

Heceta Head Lighthouse: If I Were the Lighthouse Keeper

“We're sorry, but we couldn't find any jobs that match your criteria.

For better results, try broadening your search.”

This message confirmed what I already suspected when I typed the key words “lighthouse keeper” into the job search engine The need for lightkeepers ended long ago. In the 1930s, electricity reduced the need for lightkeepers. And, automation in the 1960s eliminated the need completely. Still I dreamed about the life of being a lightkeeper at Heceta Head Lighthouse.

If I had the opportunity to be a lightkeeper, I would have enjoyed my work.

I would have tended to the clockworks that rotated the lighthouse lamp with strength and discipline to hand crank the 200-pound weight of this clockwork every four hours while on my shift.

I would have kept the wick fueled with kerosene so the lamp burned bright and remained visible some 21 miles out from shore.

I would have carefully polished the 392-prism British-made Fresnel lens to remove all the soot.

I would have looked forward to receiving the portable wooden bookcase, a kind of Book Mobile of the 1800s, delivered by a visiting ship traveling along the coast.

When my shift was done, I would have loved to sit in the isolated house close to the lighthouse enjoying the view of the rugged coast from my curtained window.

The volunteer docents who led the interpretive tours of the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Keeper’s House did much to feed my imagination and my desire to be a lightkeeper. I suppose the closest I will come to being a lightkeeper is to sit upon the Adirondack chairs of the front porch at the Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast, the lightkeeper’s former home.

August 29, 2008

Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Off US 101, 13 miles north of Florence, Oregon

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