Construction of the Rubjerg-Knude lighthouse in Jutland, Denmark straddled the last two centuries, beginning in 1899 and finishing in 1900. It was built on a dune-less cliff 200m away from the sea and 60m above sea level, but as the years passed the sea drew closer, and with it came the dunes, which gradually began to swallow up the base of the lighthouse. Initially it was 23 meters tall, but by 1968 only some 15 meters was accessible – the rest, including all the entrances, were stopped up and buried, finally shutting the lighthouse down.
Efforts were made to protect the lighthouse over the years, with sand pine grates installed and lyme grass planted on the dunes in an attempt to halt their encroachment. It didn’t work, and the lighthouse was shut down, but life around it didn’t halt completely – after 1968 the surrounding buildings were converted to a sand drift museum and coffee shop, which continued operation until 2002.
Now though the sand has swallowed them too, caving in their roofs with its weight.
Soon, as the sea draws closer and the winds endlessly blows the dunes inland, there will be nothing left of the Rubjerg-Knude at all.
2. Tillamook Rock
The Tillamook Rock Light was built in 1881 on a rock off Oregon coast called Tillamook Head. It was born in blood; with its grand opening overshadowed by a nearby shipwreck just days before its guardian gas-light was lit. 16 people died when the barque Lupatia wrecked on the rocks in a storm, proving the necessity of a lighthouse there.
Due to the extensive surveying and blasting necessary to build a lighthouse on the Tillamook sea-crag, combined with the erratic weather conditions, it was the most expensive West Coast lighthouse ever built. It soon became known as ‘Terrible Tilly’, for the dangerous commute required for Keepers bringing supplies back from the mainland.
Tilly has proved a popular model for both painters and modelers. In fact both pottery and paper models of lighthouses are available in the States as collectibles. Over the years ferocious storms damaged the lighthouse, shattered its Fresnel lens, and eroded the rock it stood upon, causing it to be decommissioned in 1957 and sold into private hands – ultimately beginning its final lease of life as a columbarium; a final resting place for urns filled with the ashes of the dead.
The Eternity at Sea Columbarium interred only 30 urns between 1980 and 1999, before the company lost its license.
To this day they have not got the license back; but those ashes still remain, sitting on wooden boards overlooking the raging Pacific Ocean.