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In 1856, the First Order Fresnel Lens was lit, and the first lighthouse on the peninsula began warning vessels of the hazards of the sandbar exiting the Columbia River going into the Pacific Ocean and what was known as "The graveyard of the Pacific." Prior to that time, only marking on trees, oil pots and small flags, warned Sea Captains of the dangerous tides, rocks and bars. A giant Brass bell was used to warn ships during foggy times, but because of some faults, it's use was discontinued. In 1937, the giant first order lens was replaced with a smaller lens, but still had power because this one was electrically powered. This lens was later replaced with an Aero Beacon Lens, which proved more powerful. In 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard, took over operation of both Cape Disappointment and North Head Lighthouse, located a short distance to the North. Both lighthouses are still in use, and have become two of the most favorite tourist attractions in Ilwaco and the mighty Columbia River as it greets the Pacific Ocean.
February 11th, 2011
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