Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, Ilwaco

4.4
#3 of 10 in Things to do in Ilwaco
The Cape Disappointment Light is a lighthouse on Cape Disappointment near the mouth of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington.
In 1848, a lighthouse was recommended to be located at Cape Disappointment in what was then the Oregon Territory. An appropriation of US$53,000 was made in 1852. After the lighthouse was designed, a first-order Fresnel lens was ordered. When the lens arrived it was found to be too large for the tower. Rebuilding the tower took an additional two years. The first lighthouse in the Pacific Northwest was finally lit on October 15, 1856. In addition to the light, the station was equipped with a 1600lb bell powered by a striking mechanism. The keeper's residence was about a quarter-mile away.
The lighthouse had several shortcomings. The fog bell was sometimes inaudible due to the roar of ocean waves. It was discontinued in 1881 and moved to West Point Light in Seattle, and eventually to Warrior Rock Light near Portland. Also, the light was not visible to ships approaching from the north. This problem was corrected by building a lighthouse at North Head, two miles from Cape Disappointment. The first-order lens was moved to North Head and a fourth-order lens installed at Cape Disappointment.
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Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
207 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • The walk to the lighthouse is about 1/2 a mile from the parking lot and the last little bit is quite a steep climb but its on a paved road so access to all is not an issue. The lighthouse is still an ...  more »
  • While we got a few distant pictures, the area was undergoing substantial renovation and the access to and the ability to visit the lighthouse was restricted... The Volunteer Forest Rangers at the site...  more »
Google
  • Neat little lighthouse next to the Coast Guard observation post. Worth the hike to get to it just for the views alone! Lots of birds for the watchers. I counted over ten species of bird including bald eagles, a vulture, falcon, and cormorant. Remember your discover pass if you're just visiting for the day, and if you forget then you can purchase one at the Cape D entrance ranger station. I believe that it costs ten dollars for one day or thirty dollars for one year. Quite a good deal if you buy the annual pass.
  • The view from the visitors center is great, but the hike to get closer is well worth it! The lighthouse has a bold, dominant look to it.. clearly designed to withstand the unforgiving storms that crash upon this coast. Make sure to see both Cape Disappointment and North Head lighthouses at night for the full ambiance

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