It’s time to visit the first of Oregon’s 11 historic lighthouses. The Umpqua River Lighthouse at the mouth of Winchester Bay/Umpqua River probably has the most interesting history of all the lighthouses.

In 1851 Congress appropriated $15,000.00 and 33 acres of land on the Oregon Coast and construction on the Umpqua River Lighthouse was begun. There were many delays along the way due to a foundering materials ship in September of 1853, and due to Native Americans stealing critical tools. The Natives wanted to avoid an attack from nearby Fort Umpqua so they worked to stop construction activity in this manner. These lands for centuries were prime hunting and fishing grounds for Native Americans and they resented the progress being made on the building of this important coast lighthouse.

At the time it was believed that this port would become very important due to the “green gold” that extended everywhere nearby—that being the timber.  Native Americans believed this was their land and acted accordingly. The construction workers did not want a confrontation as they were outnumbered. But when one saw his sledge hammer leaning against a Native hut and went to retrieve it he was jumped by the residents of the village. Mayhem broke out between Natives and workers but a quick thinking foreman lit a stick of dynamite frightening away the Natives. The Native threat was mostly over but long winter storms continued delays until the spring of 1857 when the lighthouse was finally completed making it the first light on the Oregon Coast.

The sandy soil location for the lighthouse was poorly chosen and following a winter gale combined with record mountain runoff in 1861 and more violent storms in 1863, the structure’s foundation was undermined and it came crashing down.

For 20 years there was no light here and commerce was stalled. In 1888 Congress appropriated $50,000.00 to build another Umpqua River Lighthouse, this time inland on the headlands above the mouth of the river. It is the farthest away from a river or ocean of all Oregon Coast lighthouses. And yet it is a beacon for ships out at sea that can be seen for miles.


The lens of a lighthouse is its most important feature. The Umpqua River Lighthouse lens is a special one. Manufactured in 1890 by a company in Paris, France, it truly is a thing of beauty. With twenty-four bull’s eye panels it completes a revolution every two minutes producing a signature of two white flashes followed by a red flash. The inside is as beautiful as the extended beams of light in the night. The lucky visitor will be permitted to step up inside the lens to view the revolving light that produces real butterfly images as it goes around.


Over the years this unique and very beautiful light has been threatened with being decommissioned. In 2010, Douglas County, Oregon, took over ownership of the lighthouse. In a ceremony in 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard officially turned over control of operation and maintenance to Douglas County. U.S. Coast Guard families are still housed at the lighthouse but work down the road at the Coast Guard Station in Winchester Bay. This important Oregon Coast lighthouse which operates 24/7 is a destination for visitors both local and out-of-state. When you visit Umpqua River Haven, this is a “must see!”



Let’s Go Fishing!


Every once in awhile we are going to take a break for “Fishin’ Tails.”  So you can learn about and enjoy the year around fishing offered on the Umpqua River and the seasonal ocean fishing.

Meet Rob.  Rob is a native Oregonian but also a native to Scottsburg here in Douglas County.  Rob has lived here his entire life.  He has worked here that long and reared 2 children here with his wife.  Doesn’t get any more native than that unless you are actually Native American which Rob’s wife partially is.

Rob has worked in lumber mills most of his career and often works the night shift.  He frequently works security when the mills shut down for short periods which makes him the only one on the premises.  He’s just good at what he does.

Rob and his family love bass.  Small mouth bass fishing on the Umpqua is considered as some of the best in the world!  It’s possible to catch more than 100 bass in the summer months by a reasonably capable fisher person.

Rob knows a very secret fishing hole where catching bass is easy at the right times.  He hasn’t shared his secret with very many people but if you visit us in your RV at Umpqua River Haven, we might be able to entice Rob to tell you where one of the best bass fishing holes in the world is!

Traveling The Umpqua River Highway To The Coast



Heading out of Umpqua River Haven traveling west on Oregon State Highway 38, every inch of the scenery is breathtaking.

We travel past the local volunteer fire station and 2 miles on into Scottsburg, quickly passing through town and onto one of Oregon’s historic bridges crossing the river.

In winter the river is sometimes brown with its bottom having been stirred up by rains and water runs from the inland Cascade Mountains carrying along logs and debris.  But in calmer weather the river is a distinct green.  The river bottom is covered with a layer of rock on which water moss forms.  Add that to the reflection of all the green trees on the mountain sides and you have a very pretty green river.  When the sun shines it is literally dazzling.

Two miles down the road after crossing the bridge is the Scottsburg park with a large parking lot for vehicles and trailers that have launched boats there.  Grassy picnic areas surround the parking lot and there is a modern rest room facility.  The locals often take their children and grandchildren to the park to swim.  The traditional 4th of July Scottsburg Community picnic is held here each year.


 A bit further along the highway is the Umpqua State Park.  A very pleasant place to rest and view the river though not as fully developed as the Scottsburg Park.

Moving on down the road about 11 miles from Umpqua River Haven there is a turn off to go up to Loon Lake.  This is a small, inland lake up in the Coast Mountain Range with a very nice public beach maintained by the BLM.  Boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming are all available at Loon Lake.  Stop in at the lodge for a sandwich.  The drive up is a few miles from Highway 38 and traverses along the picturesque Mill Creek.

One of the owners at Umpqua River Haven took this photo of Mill Creek:


The photo at the top of the page shows a river barge dredging the river bottom for rock.  Periodically rock is removed mostly for commercial purposes and you can see the barges doing their job.

When traveling this highway during the rainy season, many small and sometimes not so small waterfalls appear along the mountain sides.  It can be quite spectacular to come around a curve and see water splashing downward toward the river.

Four or five miles from the coast is Brandy Bar Landing.  These long established condominiums are on the river with fantastic views.


Coming close to Reedsport on the Coast we find the Dean Creek Elk Preserve.  Seldom do I pass without seeing the largest elk in the world—the Roosevelt Elk.  They are beautiful animals.  At the right time of year they can be seen locking antlers vying for position in the herd.  Mostly they are peaceful grazing on the lush grass.  There are several places designed for viewing and picture taking.  Do be careful on the highway here as the elk are not hampered by fences and occasionally can be found lunching alongside the road. 


Here, too, are found the Aleutian Geese from both Canada and Alaska.  They migrate here in abundance during cooler months before flying north in warmer weather.


Our 18 mile road trip concludes when we reach the coast town of Reedsport.  Reedsport was built on the Estuary of the Umpqua River which was partially filled with sand to create the town along the Southern Pacific Railroad line extending to Coos Bay.  It was a camp for railroad construction workers and also has a long history with the timber industry.  Today Reedsport thrives with tourism, is a sea port mostly for repairing boats and boasts two grocery stores, a hospital, an Old Town District with antique stores and a variety of restaurants and motels.  It is a quaint, small Oregon Coast town that is part of “Dune Country” and is fun to visit.


 One of our favorite places to visit in Reedsport is Mumbly-Peg.  Mumbly-Peg stocks cutlery and collectibles and buys and sells gold and silver jewelry.  The owner is fun to visit with and has many stories to tell.


 We also like the Myrtlewood Gallery with its unique display of all things Myrtlewood.  Some of it is made right there on site.  More about the unique and rare Myrtlewood trees of Oregon another time.


These are just two of the interesting places to visit in Reedsport on the Oregon Coast.