Terrible Tilly, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast
Tillamook Rock Light is a now a deactivated lighthouse located on the Oregon Coast of the United States.
This lighthouse,nicknamed “TERRIBLE TILLY” took 500 days to construct and it was very dangerous to work on. The Light was officially lit on January 21st, 1881.
At the time, it was the most expensive West Coast lighthouse ever built. Due to the horrendous weather conditions, and the dangerous commute for both keepers & suppliers, the lighthouse was nicknamed “Terrible Tilly” or “Tillie”.
After it’s completion, over the upcoming years, storms have damaged the lighthouse, shattered the lens, and eroded the rock. It was decommissioned in 1957, and has since been sold to private owners. Access to the site is severely limited, with a helicopter landing the only way to access the rock, and it is off-limits even to the owners during the seabird nesting season.
The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 and is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
See the following Video why they call this lighthouse “Terrible Tilly”
A total of 5 men usually worked on it when one night, during a storm, a rock crashed into the glass. The man who found it painted the lighthouse on that rock which can be seen in the Astoria maritime museum. The last people who bought it allowed people to keep the ashes of loved ones in there for a BIG sum of money.
But, because the lighthouse was poorly maintained and,because the ashes where spread everywhere and because there where animals living in there, they could not put anymore ashes in the lighthouse.
Tillamook Rock Light , aka Terrible Tilly can be seen the best from the Ecola State Park trail.
Oral History Interview of James A. Gibbs
Robert Schwemmer, Regional Maritime Heritage Coordinator, NOAA
Walter Jaccard, Submerged Cultural Resources Exploration Team
Mike Racine, Submerged Cultural Resources Exploration Team
Jim Gibbs was a noted maritime historian of the Pacific Northwest and founding member of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
On January 17, 2009, Jim graciously agreed to discuss a wide range of topics concerning his
years in the maritime industry. It was his 87th birthday.
The interview was conducted over several hours in his home, a private aid to navigation called Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse on Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast.
Jim passed on April 30, 2010 and the Northwest lost not only a direct link to the early days of
20th century maritime commerce, but a kind and gentle man.
In this segment, Jim talks about his days as a US Coast Guard lightkeeper at Tillamook “Terrible Tilly” Lighthouse.