WINCHESTER BAY, Ore. - The fate of the Umpqua River Lighthouse is up in the air as the Coast Guard weighs the decision of whether or not to decommission the landmark light.
Looking out over the jetty above Winchester Bay, the Umpqua River Lighthouse is just one of four in Oregon considered to be an active Aid-To-Navigation.
With over 600 prisms spinning up top, the powerful Fresnel lens can shoot its red and white beams out more than 20 miles over the sea.
Jim Akre, a member of the newly formed group called the Friends of the Umpqua Light, says to put this lens in a museum would be a disservice to the community.
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He says over 21,000 visitors tour this lighthouse each year and it would be a shame to lose that draw.
"It's the only one that has red in it on the Oregon Coast, it's really been an icon here forever and our concern is, this is such a huge part of our local history that we certainly don't want to lose that cultural awareness that this brings to the area."
But, with maintenance costs and the era of Global Positioning Satellites, the Coast Guard is considering shutting off the light.
Akre says it costs about $6,000 annually in upkeep, but the light is considered priceless by those at sea.
"There are people that say that when the fog is really thick, and even though they have their GPS, it's really a comforting sight to have this beacon available to you out on the ocean."
The Friends of Umpqua Light encourage anyone interested in preserving the lens there to attend the Umpqua River Lighthouse's 116th birthday anniversary celebration on Sept. 24 and 25.
For more information, call the Lighthouse Museum at (541) 271-4631.