Seaside History

Terrible Tilly

November 21, 2012 | by Nate Burke

Can you imagine the experience of being a lighthouse keeper? It took a unique personality, a tough individual who had a strong tolerance for isolation, solitude, and a level head. These traits were especially needed at Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. Nicknamed “Terrible Tilly”, the lighthouse sits like a silent sentry just off the coast of Tillamook Head. It was completed in 1881 and after 76 years of relentless pounding by the ocean, finally decommissioned in 1957.
During its heyday, the Lighthouse was staffed by four brave keepers whose duty was considered extremely treacherous due to the extreme isolation and weather conditions. As this photo from the early 20th century attests, it wasn’t unusual for the small rocky island to be pummeled by giant thundering surf and debris. In 1881, right before the lighthouse was completed, the vessel Lupatia wrecked at the base of Tillamook Head despite the lighthouse staff’s best efforts to signal the ship with lanterns and a bonfire. All 16 crew members perished. The only survivor was the Lupatia’s dog that howled mournfully from the coastline.
In 1980 the lighthouse was privately purchased and converted into a columbarium (a vault for urns containing ashes of the deceased) called Eternity at Sea. Since 1999, the columbarium no longer accepts new urns and the operation has ended. Though now decommissioned and unused, Terrible Tilly still stands tall and is a visible reminder from the Seaside beach of a brave history.  Occasionally, during golden summer sunsets when the sea is calm and glassy, it seems as if the lighthouse hovers on the water.  Like a lonely outpost touching the horizon, it has a front row seat to the swirling clouds and setting sun. At times like these, one can imagine the occasional quiet pleasure of being a lighthouse keeper.

Leave a Reply

and so much more!

Seaside Holiday Spirit
Seaside Holiday Spirit

Seaside holiday spirit is more than evident around town beginning in early November. Ushered in by lights and decorations going up...

Learn More
Camping in Seaside

Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner. One of my very favorite things to do during Memorial Day weekend is to go camping. I love setting up the tents, snuggling in a warm sleeping bag, sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows for s’mores, and smelling like a campfire all weekend. I love every bit of it! If you’ve never camped by the Pacific Ocean then you are missing out! You get to add the salty air, sandy beach, and all the benefits of being near Seaside to add to your camping experience.

Learn More
A Seagull’s View

Aerial shot of Seaside Oregon from the 1920s

Learn More
Playland: Amusements in the 1930s

Recognize this classic Seaside landmark? For just over sixty years, countless kids and adults have come to the Oregon Coast to get...

Learn More
Barefoot beachcombing: a Treat for Your Feet

Historical photo of children doing some barefoot beach combing.

Learn More
“Gee, the Water’s Fine”

A trip to the beach is not only fun, it's good for your health!

Learn More
Seaside OR: Beachside Weddings

The North Oregon Coast is home, and Seaside is an ideal wedding destination! Seaside has incredible scenery, diverse and amazing vendors, and is within close proximity to the Portland airport for those out of town guests.

Learn More
Gone Fishin’

You know you’re in Seaside when . . . this sentence can be completed in numerous ways. Today I’ll finish it with: . . . you see a guy walking down the road in tall rubber boots, fishing pole in one hand, long silvery fish dangling from the other.

Learn More
Episode Two: the Lewis & Clark Salt Works

Join us on an audio walking tour of the Lewis & Clark Salt Works in Seaside, Oregon.

Learn More
A Dog’s Guide to Seaside

Where else in the United States will you find such a welcoming expansive beach, where Fido can run into the tides, kick up some sa...

Learn More
Portland to Seaside by Bus

Visiting Seaside without a Car

Learn More
A Stop on the Art Walk

Capturing what goes on behind the scenes of a First Saturday Art Walk

Learn More
Golden Age Arcade

Seaside's classic golden age arcade.

Learn More
Excellence in Customer Service Tip #1: 3 Key Elements in a Good Greeting

National Tourism and Travel Week begins May 2, 2015. In celebration, the City of Seaside Visitors Bureau is emphasizing the import...

Learn More
Garden Circle Evolution

The evolution of Seaside's Turnaround garden circle.

Learn More
Customer Service and the Bottom Line

As we prepare for a new year and our annual Customer Service Awards Program, we visit the question that most business owners are f...

Learn More
Enjoying the Breaks in Weather

Seaside and Oregon Coast offer unique setting for the rising and setting of the sun.

Learn More
Rebranding Seaside Gives us new Opportunity for Promoting Seaside

How do you describe Seaside to your friends, neighbors and relatives? Better yet, how would you, if asked? You may have an answer ...

Learn More