John Roose TREWAVAS
- Born: Bef 27 Aug 1843, Paul, Cornwall, England
- Marriage: Mary H. ERIDY on 19 Oct 1872 in Clackamas, Oregon, USA
- Died: Sep 1879, Tillamook, Tillamook, Oregon, USA
Located more than a mile offshore, near Oregon's magnificen
t TillamookHead and about twenty miles south of the Columbia River, thisstorm-dashed bastion clings to a scrap of rock totally in the grip of thesea. In a gale, mountainous waves sweep over the rock and pound the wallsof the lighthouse. Few buildings anywhere in the world are so exposed tothe whims and power of wind, weather and sea. Yet the Tillamook RockLighthouse has now stood, more or less intact, for more than a century.
Completed in early 1881, the structure surely ranks among the foremostengineering triumphs of the late nineteenth century. But there were manywho said the lighthouse could never be built. in fact, the public tooksuch a skeptical view of the project, that there was a general outcryagainst wasting money on so vain and foolish a venture.
Well before the first stone was laid, tragedy threatened to convertpublic opposition to outrage. A master mason from Portland with previousexperience in building seemingly un-buildable lighthouses, John Trewavaswas put ashore on the rock one morning in September 1879. Trewavas hadbeen asked to survey the site, but he never even got started. whileclimbing up the rock's sheer eastern face, he slipped and plunged intothe ocean. The water immediately closed over him, and he was never seenagain.
News of the mason's death raised such a storm of protest that governmentofficials felt they could only proceed with the project in secret. Theconstruction chosen for the job was sequestered and housed in an isolatedlocation.
Even some of the workmen --- some of whom were tough veterans of otherdangerous construction jobs --- questioned the wisdom of attempting tobuild something on this sea battered outcropping. The task before themwas indeed Olympian. The first two workmen put ashore on the rock becameso frightened by the giant waves crashing into it that they jumped intothe ocean and had to be rescued by lifeline.
By New Years Day, 1881, the station's enormous first order Fresnel lenswas being installed meticulously, one delicate prism at a time. Laterthat day a tremendous gale blew in, bringing the work to a complete,though temporary, halt.
That night workers began to hear strange noises above the roar of thestorm. They thought they had heard voices, men calling to them from thedarkness. They also heard, quite distinctly, a dog barking. Suddenly, outof the gloom, a large sailing ship came into sight. It reeled and crashedover the waves, obviously out of control. Then, as quickly as it hadappeared, the ship was gone.
A day later, when the storm had passed and the sun came out, the fate ofthe mystery ship and it's crew had become all too apparent. It'sshattered remains littered the rocks of nearby Tillamook Head. Theunlucky ship had been the Lupatia, bound from Japan to the ColumbiaRiver. None of it's crew of sixteen lived to tell the story of thedestruction. Only the ship's dog survived.
The Lupatia calamity proved a somber initiation for the almost completeTillamook Rock Lighthouse. No doubt the disaster chilled and depressedthe construction crew. After all their struggles they had missed by onlya few days having the light ready and shining on the night it would havebeen most needed by the Lupatia.
The oil lamp inside the big Fresnel lens was fired up for the first timeon January 11, 1881. the light shined almost continuously for the next 76years. It was finally extinguished in September 1957, when the lighthousewas decommissioned and replaced by a buoy.
There is some evidence to suggest that John Roose had at least oneson as the Trewavas name appears in later records for Oregon. Furtherresearch in this area required.
Noted events in his life were:
• Baptism, 27 Aug 1843, Paul, Cornwall, England.
John married Mary H. ERIDY on 19 Oct 1872 in Clackamas, Oregon, USA.