North Head Lighthouse

NorthHeadThe Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and Keepers of the North Head Lighthouse invite the public to attend the 115th anniversary of the North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco.

The celebration commemorates the official title transfer of the lighthouse from U.S. Coast Guard ownership to Washington State Parks and also is in conjunction with Centennial 2013, the 100th birthday of the state park system in Washington.


The celebration is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at the North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park, 244 Robert Gray Drive, Ilwaco. At noon, visiting dignitaries and participants will gather on the grounds of the nearby historic lighthouse keepers’ residences to share remarks about the lighthouse and the title transfer. Following the speaker program, participants will move to the lighthouse for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“The North Head Lighthouse is an iconic structure, and we’re very excited to have this historical landmark in our care,” said State Parks Director Don Hoch. “We’re grateful to the Keepers group, which has worked hard to help preserve this significant piece of our state and national history.”

The event will feature food and refreshments, fun for children, an informative exhibit, art auction, the debut of a North Head Lighthouse special-edition poster, a contest for lighthouse-related prizes and self-guided tours of a lighthouse keeper’s residence. Guided tours of the lighthouse will be available for $2.50 for people 17 years and older. There is no charge for those 7 to 17. Children must be 7 years or older to tour the lighthouse. Discover Pass is not required to attend the event; June 8 is a State parks “free day,” in recognition of National Get Outdoors Day.  Parking near the lighthouse is limited.  Signs will direct visitors to alternate parking.

The North Head Lighthouse was put into service as the primary navigation aid at the mouth of the Columbia River on May 16, 1898. The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse had served the function from 1856, however, ships continued to run aground at the confluence of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean, in the area that came to be known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.” Due to the number of shipwrecks, it was determined that a second lighthouse was needed on the northwestern spur of Cape Disappointment, commonly referred to as North Head. With all of the original buildings of the station still standing, the North Head Lighthouse remains the most intact lighthouse reservation in the Pacific Northwest.

The Keepers of the North Head Lighthouse formed in 2009 to promote awareness of the historic icon and to spearhead efforts to restore the structure, which has been damaged over time by the harsh elements. For more information about the Keepers, visit online at or search Facebook: North Head Lighthouse. For more information about the event, call (360) 665-5580 or (360) 642-2502.

Cape Disappointment State Park is on the Long Beach Peninsula, fronted by the Pacific Ocean and lying along the Columbia River. The park is comprised of more than 1,800 acres, offering camping, two miles of ocean beach, two lighthouses, hiking trails and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. As part of a larger art installation, the park also features the Confluence Project amphitheater, designed by world-renowned architect and artist, Maya Lin.

Cape Disappointment additionally offers cabins and yurts for overnight rental. The historic lighthouse keeper’s residences are outfitted with modern conveniences and are available as historic vacation house rentals. For information about the park and its accommodations, visit