Terrible Tilly, A lighthouse for the ages.




“Honorary Lighthouse Keepers Wanted,” the advertisement for Eternity by the Sea reads. “We are currently not accepting new keepers, but you can add your name to the waiting list.  .  .”

It is interesting to me that, to this day, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse remains rather selective about her occupants. Although, I always found that a bit of a mystery in and of itself, because me and that lighthouse, well, we always got along just fine for nearly twenty-years. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Introductions appear to be in order.

If you know anything about the Pacific Lighthouse history, then you’ve no doubt heard that one story about me, Oswald Allik, keeper of Pacific lighthouses. But please, do call me Ossie, I don’t stand much on formality. Yes, if I recollect right, the story goes something like this:

“There was this upstart Coast Guard assistant who took some sort of offense to the order that I gave him. Don’t remember exactly what I said that made him so piping mad, red faced and that doubled up fist, ready to take a punch at me. Well, I just stared him in the eye and said: ‘If it will make you feel better, you have my permission to strike me.”’

Tis true, for the most part, I suppose. But I’m still here, unfazed and no permanent marks to show for it. It has also been said of me that I never smiled much. Perhaps that is because inside, I was always beaming.

But you’re not here to find out about me, now are you? No, you want to know about my favorite lighthouse.  That solemn sentinel of hope dubbed the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and later known as “Terrible Tilly.” She stood proud and firm in at the Southern end of what was known as The Pacific Graveyard.


Ay, many a ship’s crew has lost its life near where Oregon’s Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of ships have been wrecked in a forty-mile area north and south of the river’s mouth. Inclement weather, fog, sudden gale force winds and a rocky shoreline are all contributing factors. Thus, the need for lighthouses along that stretch in the early part of the 20th century. Nowadays, those lighthouses are museums or, as is this present case, they are in need of honorary keepers.

(For more info, see library)

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