Monday, February 18, 2008

Anybody Check Indian?

~Photo by J. Horne


S WIND 15 KT. WIND WAVES 3 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 15 SECONDS.
Today's post was initially intended as a brief recap of today's surf...
A surf that was special most in the sense it was the first in a couple weeks...
But then, of course, looking for the right image everything changes...
Surfing the web for a shot that showed a rock I had noticed failed...
But this shot basically was the view during every paddle back out...
Pretty majestic but also a maelstrom of sorts...
The waves definitely felt a bit bigger than the 5 foot forecast...
But they were rideable, if a little bit messy...
Seeing the shot of Terrible Tilly...
Made me think of other iconic Oregon images...
The Haystack Rocks, whether at Cannon or Cape K...
The Glenesselin and the Peter Iredale...
Coves and capes, points and spits...
Taken together this famous lighthouse carries some weight...
And here's an excerpt from the site I poached the shot from:
It was September 1, 1957, just past the stroke of midnight when Keeper Oswald Allik darkened the light on Tillamook Rock for good. He had been ordered to extinguish a light that had served mariners for over seventy-five years. Also silenced was the steam fog siren that helped mariners during times of low visibility. A not-so-personal whistle buoy was replacing the lighthouse called “Terrible Tilly”; Oregon’s only offshore light located roughly 1.2 miles off Tillamook Head.

As its name implies, the lighthouse is on a rock. It is situated about twenty miles south of the Columbia River on less than an acre of basalt. It guided ships safely along one of the state’s most hazardous sections of coastline and directed them into the Columbia River shipping lanes.

We’ve all heard the saying, “its not just a job, its an adventure!” That must have been exactly how the men felt, working on the isolated island. After being on duty for up to three months, they were granted leave. But the leave was only for two weeks. They probably felt as if they never left the Rock.

The real adventure was when they left or returned to the Rock. They were placed in a sling-type rigging called a breeches buoy that was tethered to a derrick. If the person was lucky, the sea was calm. Many times the conditions were too dangerous to offload crew or supplies. More than once a person lost his life. One killed on "Tilly" was a master mason trying to survey the rock prior to construction.

In 1881, with Tillamook Rock Lighthouse’s construction completed, the revolving first order Fresnel lens was lit for the first time by the Principal Keeper, Albert Roeder. The construction proved to be an engineering feat, taking over 500 days to complete. At the time it was the most expensive West Coast lighthouse ever built. Later that honor was bestowed upon the St. George Reef Lighthouse off the northern California coast.

Through the years, the Rock was assaulted by violent storms with damaging winds and huge waves. More than once storms proved to be too much, flooding the tower with a torrent of water with debris large enough to smash the windows of the lantern room over 130 feet above sea level. In 1934, one of the most damaging storms to hit the Rock destroyed the original lens. Chunks of concrete leveled parts of the tower railing and ripped up the landing platform. The lighthouse was left without a means to communicate with the outside world. One of the keepers put together a makeshift radio to deliver an urgent message to officials requesting assistance and notifying them of the storm damage. Even today, winter storms continue to batter the Rock. The only sounds you will hear coming from the Rock today are the barking of sea lions and the calls of the birds that make the Rock their home. It is now a part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

3 comments:

Chum said...

That's a great story. I've always looked at that huge building on the rock and wondered about its history. They have a great big picture of it at the Lumberyard where you really get a good look at how substantial the structure is - almost like a mini Alcatraz.

Sorry to hear that Indian wasn't better...

Foulweather... said...

Is Indian a location for surfboard riding?

Checked it at LT and it looked pretty horrible. However, there was a nearby wave that looked pretty damn filthy. Yet, with terrible Tilly looming in the background and being solo, I piked it on the chance to paddle out into some solo A-Frames...

Gaz said...

Col story Doc, rock tossing at 130' puts Surfline hi-jinks to shame!