Cape Arago Lighthouse now owned by tribes

Cape Arago Lighthouse now owned by tribes
Coast Guard Capt. Mark Reynolds, commander, Sector North Bend, signs a copy of Public Law 110-364, Oregon Surplus Federal Land Act of 2008, completing the land transfer of the Cape Arago lighthouse to the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians at a ceremony held on the lighthouse grounds southwest of Coos Bay, Ore., Aug. 3, 2013. The public law signed in 2008 directed the Coast Guard to transfer the land, within five years, to the Confederated Tribes, returning historical and traditional important lands to the tribes. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley)

COOS BAY, Ore. - The Coast Guard transferred ownership of the Cape Arago Lighthouse and grounds to the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians at a ceremony held on the lighthouse grounds southwest of Coos Bay Aug. 3, 2013.

Coast Guard Capt. Mark Reynolds, commander, Sector North Bend, signed over the property comprising approximately 24 acres of land including Gregory Point Chief's Island and the lighthouse located there.

Several lighthouses have called this area home since 1866.  The third and current lighthouse, built in 1934 and now decommissioned from service, still stands on Chief's Island. 

"We are honored to have been able to work with the Confederated Tribes in returning this land to the tribes," said Capt. Reynolds.  "We and honored to be able to pay respect to current local tribal heritage and their ancestors who called this land home."

Oregon's first lighthouse was built not far from Cape Arago at the mouth of the Umpqua River in 1856.  In 1861, the lighthouse collapsed due to erosion from the river.

Due to the growth of the Coos Bay area, a new lighthouse was built at Cape Arago on Chief's Island in 1866.  In 1909, a new lighthouse was built due to erosion endangering the current structure.  In 1934, the current lighthouse was built.

Chief's Island was also the home of a U.S. Life Saving Station from 1878 to 1891, before it was relocated to the mainland.