Saturday, May 14, 2011

YAQUINA BAY LIGHTHOUSE AND OLD TOWN NEWPORT

Old town Newport is called Bay Front. Remnants remain of  old rotting docks if you look hard.  A few old buildings remain to remind you of its much busier and more colorful past.  A working dock, still,  but gussied up for tourists such as we to enjoy dockside restaurants,  art galleries, quaint shops and souvenir places.  Multiple murals or bright paint cover up the old warehouse look of the place and its kitschy and fun.
We watched this very modern shrimper come in with the tasty morsels packed in ice and mechanically moved dockside.
Workers then loaded them into a refrigerated truck.
Crab rings stacked around town gave evidence that crab is still big business here. Dungeness. We spotted a crabber advertising live crabs for sale.
We walked down the ramp to buy one,  but no crabs.  Only a phone number for their other boat. Crabbing is slow right now. They were available in the store, but we forgot to stop and pick one up before we returned to the motor home.
A story board about Mo’s restaurants is on the street. Mo was a hard-working, big-hearted, chain-smoking woman,  who opened a seafood restaurant of some renown. There are now six of them up and down the coast.  We stopped in for delicious  bowl of chowder. A woman once crashed into her restaurant with her car. Mo simply covered it up with a working garage door and turned it into a sidewalk cafe in summer.
I swear this batch of seals was trained to amuse us, they posed, barked, kissed, cuddled and basked for everyone on their own little dock; methinks, waiting to be thrown a morsel of some type.

A walk around this part of town is a must if you visit. The place is full of murals. It was hard to pick a favorite.
We moved on to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse which is the smallest lighthouse on the coast. It was one of only four built of wood with the house and the lighthouse the same structure.
Poised on a bluff on Yaquina Bay overlooking  the Yaquina River as it dumps into the ocean, the small light- 8 to 10 mile range- was invisible to ships approaching from the north. It was commissioned, built and put into service for only three years, from 1871 to 1873. It was replaced by the Yaquina Head Lighthouse we visited yesterday which has a bigger light with a 21 mile range.
The inside of this two-story “house” is charming . The Charles Pierce family of nine that lived here had to be in tight quarters even so. Cooking on a wood stove, pumping water up from rainwater in a cistern. It has four bedrooms and no indoor plumbing.
The furnishings are not original, but indicative of the times.  The chamber pot, the rope bedstead. Trunks held clothing and linens. People spent more time outside than they do now. I’ve seen a lot of lighthouses, many on the East Coast last year, but this is my favorite. I’m so thankful that the citizens of Newport rose up and protested its demolition and formed a historical and preservation society. It had several uses before it fell into disrepair. Saved in 1946, it didn’t get restored until 1976. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places. What a treasure.

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