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Oregon Field Guide

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse



Producer: Jule Gilfillan   Camera/Editor: Nicholas Fisher   Volunteer Series Coordinator: Naseem Rakha   Volunteer Photography Specialist: Tom Hubbard

Video and Photographs Courtesy of: Cannon Beach History Museum, Columbia River Maritime Museum, Family of Forrest Wesley Ginn, Brad LaChappelle, Roy Lowe, Jim Scott, Jim Thode, James and Karen Young,  US Coast Guard

Special Thanks: Capt. Len Tumbarello and Tongue Point Job Corps


Built in 1879, locals call the lighthouse precariously perched on rugged Tillamook Rock “Terrible Tillie.”
Lighthouse keepers were left on the storm-prone outcrop for a month at a time, to endure the job’s hazards and monotony. The lighthouse closed permanently in 1957 and was transformed into a “columbarium” - a sort of burial at sea for human cremains.
In the 1990s, the island became a bird refuge for as many as 12,000 common murres and part of the Oregon Islands Wildlife Refuge system. Today, the “columbarium” is defunct and refuge has fewer murres, probably due to the recovering bald eagle population. The island is rarely visited but remains a source of mystery right off Tillamook Head.

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Part of Episode

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, River Snorkeling and The Ship Report (2808)

Oregon Field Guide: Episode #2808
Most Recent Broadcast: February 2, 2017