Keeper of Cape Meares Lighthouse on Oregon’s Tillamook Coast

Back in the day when Freddie Graves was a child, no public roads led to the Cape Meares Lighthouse, but that didn’t stop Graves and her family from enjoying it. Visiting the coast from their Molalla home, the family would wait until dark, then drive as close as they could to enjoy the flashing light from afar.

“We’d watch it go round,” recalls Graves. “It was always a beacon letting us know it was keeping the coast safe.”

These days, Graves, 85, doesn’t have to settle for a distant view. She’s one of the founding members of the Friends of Cape Meares Lighthouse and can be found there regularly welcoming the visitors who come from all over the world – just as she has for more than two decades.

“It’s amazing how many visitors we get,” Graves says. They come from all over the world:  Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and throughout the United States. Most say, ‘Oh what a spectacular view.’ They usually are pretty happy with what they find out there.”

And Graves is just as happy to share her knowledge about the Cape Meares Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge, as well. She’ll tell them that the lighthouse was built in 1889 and, at 38 feet tall, is the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. Its signature flash was 30 seconds of fixed white light, followed once a minute by a flash of red for five seconds.  She’ll tell them, too, about the trails and wildlife, the seabirds and the nearby octopus tree.

The lighthouse is open April 1 through October. The park and grounds are open year round. You can download a walking trail map.

“It’s an open state park that does not have a fee,” says Graves. “It’s a nice place for people to come have lunch. I’ve never been here when there wasn’t someone enjoying what Cape Meares has to offer.”

For more information and photos about Cape Meares and the Three Capes Route, visit tillamookcoast.com/cape-meares-lighthouse

Photo: Freddie Graves standing in front of Cape Meares Lighthouse

Lori Tobias

Lori Tobias is a journalist of more than 25 years, most recently as a staff writer for The Oregonian for which she covered the Oregon Coast for a decade. She currently writes a regular column for Oregon Coast Today and freelances for numerous other local, state and national publications. Her novel “Wander” is due out from Red Hen Press in 2016.

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