Skip to content

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 campfire. 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.

and so much more!

What The Oregon Coast Can Teach You From Home

The Oregon Coast is a dynamic, ever-changing place that sparks both imagination and curiosity. While you may not be able to visit ...

Learn More
Support Seaside Shops Online

We in Seaside appreciate the fact that visitors are honoring Governor Kate Brown’s executive order to stay at home in the wake o...

Learn More
The Daddy Train

The Seaside train depot was the major transportation hub before 1938.

Learn More
Promenade Meandering

Strolling on the promenade in Seaside is a time-honored tradition on the Oregon Coast

Learn More
Dining Gluten-Free in Seaside

Potato Leek Soup and Kale Salad from Dough Dough Bakery / photo by Jon Rahl Avoiding gluten doesn’t mean giving up flavor or var...

Learn More
Elevated View

The highest point in Seaside, Oregon in the 1920s.

Learn More
How to Catch Your Dinner: Learning the joy of razor clamming in Seaside, Oregon

The way to dig for razor clams and what to do with them once you catch them in Seaside, Oregon...

Learn More
Hiking Saddle Mountain is one of our four favorite hikes around Seaside.
4 Favorite Hikes Around Town

The sheer variety of trails in and around Seasie Oregon means you have plenty of hiking options, from kid-friendly strolls on the Prom to more strenuous climbs with stunning views.

Learn More
Unique Seaside Spots to Stay

(photo courtesy of the SaltLine Hotel)   From oceanfront studios and restful retreats to in-house spas and pet-friendly suite...

Learn More
Life in the Fast Lane

Riding bikes in Seaside in 1897.

Learn More
Top Things to Do With Teens

Traveling with too-cool-for-school teens? I feel you. I have two teenagers myself. But be assured, you’ll find plenty of totally...

Learn More
How to Treasure Seaside

Learn why one family uncovers more reasons to love Seaside each time they visit. After 40 years of coming to Seaside, there are st...

Learn More
COVID: What to Expect at the Beach and on the Prom

Seaside’s wide-open sandy shoreline has been a favorite playground for generations of visitors. As you plan your next trip, you ...

Learn More
Shopper’s Delight: Selnes Grocery

The hustle and bustle of Holiday shopping in Seaside circa 1926 was not nearly the same as it today.

Learn More
The Sweet Side of Seaside

Above photo: A tray of sweets on display at A Sweet Affaire, held every February. In February, we invite you to bask in the sweet ...

Learn More
A Year in Seaside – Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall Tips

While Seaside is an enduring summertime destination, our beach town increasingly draws visitors to its sandy shores throughout the...

Learn More
Bell Buoy of Seaside offers fresh seafood and features ready-to-eat items in an adjacent restaurant.
Can’t-Miss Dungeness Crab Eats

It’s a short journey from ocean to plate in Seaside, especially when it comes to Oregon’s official crustacean: the delectable ...

Learn More
A Seagull’s View

Aerial shot of Seaside Oregon from the 1920s

Learn More