Chief's Island and Arago Light

Chief’s Island and Arago Light

Tales from the Finish of a South Oregon Coast Lighthouse: Chief’s Island and Arago Mild

Printed on 28/10/22 at 17:33
By the employees of the Oregon Coast Seashore Connection

(Charleston, Oregon) – On August 3, 2013, there was a big second in Oregon Coast historical past that’s now considerably below the radar. It was when the native tribes recovered one thing invaluable that had been stolen from them some 150 years earlier than. Cape Arago Lighthouse – close to Coos Bay – initially referred to as Chief’s Island, was ceded to the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Decrease Umpqua and Siletz. In a ceremony led by Captain Mark Reynolds, Commander of Coast Guard Sector North Bend, the promontory which had housed a lighthouse for the reason that 1860s and even a Coast Guard station for a time returned to good arms. . (Cape Arago Lighthouse close to Coos Bay, courtesy Manuela Durson – see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for extra)

European historical past round this southern Oregon Coast landmark dates again to 1778, when Captain Robert Cook dinner handed by and named the spot Gregory Level. Regional tribes date again a lot additional right here. In keeping with carbon courting, Chief’s Island was occupied by people between 1,500 and a couple of,100 years in the past.

Chief’s Island / Gregory Level has quite a lot of tales to inform.

Tales from the End of a South Oregon Coast Lighthouse: Chief's Island and Arago Light
Above: Lighthouse glow, photograph Oregon Coast Seashore Connection

The realm was named Chief’s Island by the native tribes because it was historically the place the chief had his abode. But there are various indicators that it has been an intermittent village over these 1,000 years or extra. It’s a recognized archaeological web site, which partly explains why it’s thought of so vital.

Going again even additional, the island is made up of a sort of sandstone and geologically unstable. Some predictions see the realm with the lighthouse collapsing over the subsequent decade.

The Cape Arago Lighthouse is actually not the one story on this small island off the southern coast of Oregon. But it surely’s an enormous one. You may see the complete historical past of the Cape Arago Lighthouse right here, Surprise Story: There Were Three Cape Arago Lighthouses on the Southern Oregon Coast .


Photograph courtesy of Oregon Journey Coast

The final days of the island within the arms of america illustrate this fragility nicely. In keeping with a 2005 article within the Statesman Journal, a neighborhood had seen a brand new gap within the space emerge. A storm in February of that yr introduced it to note. Waves began crossing to the opposite facet, and all of a sudden you could possibly see throughout the small island.

On the time, the Bureau of Land Administration mentioned you could possibly throw hundreds of thousands of {dollars} on the factor and it will nonetheless go down.

Close by, on the cliffs overlooking Lighthouse Seashore, an aged girl witnessed the instability of this space. The cliffs are made from the identical materials as Chief’s Island.

Irene Fast had purchased land by the ocean there within the Nineteen Forties, beginning by constructing a cabin there. Working water did not come till the Nineteen Seventies, so for thirty years they’d an dependancy to what was known as a “million greenback view” of the lighthouse. A full home was ultimately constructed, however within the meantime the cliffs continued to erode. 35 toes has disappeared over the many years, even taking the outhouse with it.

The lighthouse itself was a sufferer of this collapse. A minimum of one of many construction’s reconstructions was tied to erosion of the realm, forcing officers on the Oregon coast to rebuild the subsequent one again.

Fast was 90 when the Statesman Journal spoke to him. She additionally recounted one other tantalizing tidbit: Chief’s Island was generally nonetheless walkable throughout extraordinarily low tide occasions.


The bridge over Cape Arago Mild, many years in the past

Within the mid-2000s, she was fortunate sufficient to be one of many final folks to cross the rickety bridge to see the lighthouse. At the moment, it had been closed for years. This was largely as a result of archaeological significance of the place, the truth that it was sacred to the native tribes as a result of so many ancestors have been there, and safety issues. Within the bridge’s later years, nonetheless, it was harmful, fragile, and slippery. Even native tribes needed to get hold of permits to cross for ceremonies or visits with their ancestors.

A bunch in November 2003 was one of many final forays throughout, and in line with studies, the Coast Guard solely allowed two or three at a time to stroll throughout this unstable bridge.

For a time, constitution boats have been closing in to get a greater view, however weren’t allowed to make landfall.

Whereas the Cape Arago Lighthouse was listed on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations in 1993, its days as a visual attraction have been numbered. Even then, the method was slowly brewing to deliver it again to the tribes and minimize off all entry. Within the early 2000s, this course of started to maneuver ahead in earnest, slowly transferring via Washington, D.C.

The sunshine was deactivated in 2006.

In 2012, a yr earlier than the signing ceremony, the bridge was lastly dismantled. Simply previous to this, Coast Guard Engineering Officer Lt. Jennifer Lopez was interviewed by The Related Press saying the lighthouse was being repaired and prepared for retirement. The partitions have been repaired, sealed and repainted to enhance its situation and make it watertight.

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