Fort Stevens State Park Camping Trip

Saturday morning it was time to get out of town and take a trip to Fort Stevens State Park on the Oregon Coast. I know what you are thinking, camping on the coast at the end of December sounds cold, wet, and miserable and you would get one out of three correct – it was cold (very cold) but the weather was absolutely beautiful, nice bright blue skies with sunglasses required.

One of the first stops I made was at Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach. Blue skies provided a nice backdrop for the Tillamook Rock lighthouse. First lit on January 21, 1881, after 525 days of labor, “Terrible Tilly” as the lighthouse came to be known, shone her light for 77 years before finally being extinguished on September 1, 1957. Located 1.3 miles off of the coast, “Terrible Tilly” is an amazing construction feat – workers accessed the rock by crossing a 4 1/2″ line from the Thomas Corwin to the rock; no easy feat on open water.

Sitting 1.3 miles of the coast at Ecola State Park, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse became known as "Terrible Tilly".

Sitting 1.3 miles of the coast at Ecola State Park, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse became known as “Terrible Tilly”.

Also in Ecola State Park is Indian Beach where there were a couple of surfers braving the frigid Pacific Ocean in search of a wave to ride.

A surfer catching a wave at Indian Beach in Ecola State Park.

A surfer catching a wave at Indian Beach in Ecola State Park.

From there it was on to the little town of Garibaldi, where people were crabbing and fishing from the historic pier. It’s also where I found a bulldog engine that used to be operated by the Great Northern Railway. Engine 274 was built in 1950 by the Electro Motive Division of General Motors.

The pier at Girabaldi, Oregon.

The pier at Girabaldi, Oregon.

Great Northern Railway Engine 274 at Girabaldi, Oregon.

Great Northern Railway Engine 274 at Girabaldi, Oregon.

Crab pots, buoys, and rope on the pier at Girabaldi, Oregon.

Crab pots, buoys, and rope on the pier at Girabaldi, Oregon.

Along the way, I also stopped at the Cape Meares lighthouse. Construction began in 1888 and the light was first lit on January 1, 1890. Though only 38 feet tall, it sits on top of a 217-foot tall cliff, making the light at Cape Meares is visible for 21 miles. The lighthouse has been struck by vandals through the years with the most recent act of vandalism occurring in 2010, when two people fired several rounds into the lantern room, breaking fifteen panes of glass and several prisms in the Fresnel lens. Just over a month after the vandalism, the perpetrators were caught.

Standing just 38 feet tall, the lighthouse at Cape Meares is one of the shortest I've seen.

Standing just 38 feet tall, the lighthouse at Cape Meares is one of the shortest I’ve seen.

I also visited the wreck of the Peter Iredale, a four-masted steel barque sailing vessels that ran aground on October 25, 1906. The final voyage departed Salina Cruz, Mexico around September 26, 1906, with a crew of 27, two stowaways, and 1,000 tons of ballast. On June 20, 1942, several shells were fired at Fort Stevens from Japanese submarines. The next day rolls of barbed wire were strung from Point Adams south to hamper invasion and the Peter Iredale remained wrapped in barbed wire until the end of the war.

The remains of the Peter Iredale rest on the sands of Fort Stevens State Park.  This was taken at night under an almost full moon.

The remains of the Peter Iredale rest on the sands of Fort Stevens State Park. This was taken at night under an almost full moon.

All in all, a fun adventure on the north Oregon Coast and a great way to welcome in 2013.

…..until the next adventure….

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