In the middle of Mobile Bay, a beautiful lighthouse stands proudly after more than 100 years. Two decades after the end of the Civil War, a screw pile light was built between Mobile Point and Choctaw Point. Like its counterparts on the Chesapeake Bay, Middle Bay Light was designed with six sides perched on seven 16-foot steel casings. The iron skeleton was prefabricated in the North and shipped to Alabama by sea. Using locally grown Cyprus, a one-and-a-half story cottage was constructed on top of the pilings, large enough for a keeper's family. Construction workers struggled with terrible Gulf weather, with gale-force winds and choppy water forcing them to flee several times back to the mainland. Upon completion in September 1885, engineers were startled to notice an abrupt a settling in of the lighthouse. Originally designed with the roofline 63 and a half feet above water, the light eventually sank more than seven feet into the bay bottom before stabilizing. On December 1 1885, a beacon finally shone from Middle Bay Lighthouse. Flashing a fixed white light, with red flashes every 30 seconds, the light enabled mariners to navigate safely through the bay's serpentine channels. The original design was altered slightly in 1905, when the Lighthouse Board removed the lantern and lens, replacing it with an iron post and two lens-lanterns. Middle Bay's keeper faced a practical dilemma in the summer of 1916. His wife, who had recently given birth, was unable to nurse the hungry newborn. Supplies were inconsistent, and there was no refrigeration at the lighthouse. The only solution was to keep a cow on the premises, so they brought in a cow from the mainland and corralled it on a section of the deck. Bovine and baby survived splendidly. Later that year, a terrible hurricane struck the coast of Alabama, and the family and cow were evacuated just before the storm hit. The lighthouse remained unmanned for the next 50 years. Middle Bay Light protected the mariners of Mobile Bay for more than seven decades. After surviving countless storms, including five major hurricanes, this magnificent sentinel faced its biggest challenge in 1967when the Coast Guard decommissioned it and made plans to tear it down. Tremendous local opposition forced the Coast Guard to change its mind. In1974, the Mobile Historic Development Foundation launched a determined campaign to restore the old lighthouse to its former grandeur. Three years later, ownership of the famous landmark was transferred to the Alabama Historical Commission. Under the leadership of former Naval Officer Hal Pierce, local citizens renovated the light in time for a Centennial celebration on December 1, 1985. Restoration work continues to this day.
A Light House and Tower at South Head on the Southern Side of the Entrance into the Harbour of Port Jackson, in which Sydney is situated (a building which is much required and essentially Necessary in the now increased commerce of the Colony) is about half finished. --Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of Australia, April 1817With these words, Governor Macquarie casually informed Lord Bathurst, the Secretary of State for the English Colonies, about Australians first lighthouse. As was his practice with many construction projects, Governor Macquarie sent this communiqué to London after it was too late for the government to intervene. In 1810, Lachlan Macquarie boarded a ship and headed to Australia. A year earlier, his predecessor, Captain William Bligh, who had earned a less than stellar reputation aboard H.M.S. Bounty, returned to England at the behest of disgruntled colonists. Macquarie brought a different sort of management style, quickly earning the respect of colonists, as well as convicts, who did much of the labor in the new land. The new Governor was determined to bring civilization to this wild country. He enlisted the help of a brilliant architect, Francis Greenway, who like many of his countrymen, was a convicted felon. Numerous public works were initiated, including churches, hospitals, and the lighthouse at Port Jackson. On the 11th of July 1816, Governor Macquarie laid the foundation stone for the new light. It was no surprise, considering his considerable ego, that he named the structure Macquarie Tower. Despite a number of delays in obtaining glass and other materials, on November 30, 1818, the revolving lamp was lit for the first time. Visible for 22 miles, the new beacon guided the ever-increasing shipping traffic safely into the harbor. Just a half-mile from the light, the deadly Sow and Pigs Reef lay silently in the water, waiting for unsuspecting ships. Although an iron beacon and several lightships were later employed to mark the reef, mariners were very grateful for the lighthouse. To fund the new sentinel, ships visiting Sydney were exacted heavy fees. Lord Bathurst, already annoyed that MacQuarie built the station without approval, was not about to provide money from London. Over time, as predicted by Francis Greenway, the sandstone used to construct Macquarie Tower gradually crumbled. By 1878, the tower was literally being held together by iron bands. Two years later, the government of New South Wales agreed to fund a modern new lighthouse patterned after Greenway's handsome design, just twelve feet from the original building. On June 1, 1883, the old light was decommissioned, and the new, electric beacon was powered for the first time. Today, after a century of service, the station continues to shine its powerful light, beckoning sailors to visit this exotic and wonderful land.
In 1858, news of the discovery of gold at Fraser River spread like wildfire, attracting thousands of fortune seekers to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The dramatic increase in shipping that resulted further illustrated the dangers faced by vessels traversing the treacherous Strait of Juan de Fuca. Upon request by the provincial governor for two light stations to illuminate these hazardous waters, the British government advanced 7,000 pounds for construction purposes. The first sentinel to be completed, Fisgard Lighthouse, was placed on a hilltop overlooking beautiful Esquimalt Harbour.While engineers constructed the 47-foot brick tower, officials worried where they might find a qualified keeper. Light keeping as a full-time profession was unheard of at that time in western Canada. Halfway across the globe, in England, a lighthouse engineer recommended a man named George Davies for the lonely keeper's job. In August 1860, after a nearly seven month journey, Davies, along with his wife and children, arrived in Victoria. On November 16th, 1860, George Davies climbed the magnificent, spiral iron staircase and lit the fourth-order dioptric beacon for the first time. Grateful mariners could locate the light from a distance of ten nautical miles. George and his wife, Rowina, took alternate shifts watching and caring for the light, wiping the glass and trimming the lampas wick. One of their most difficult duties was the arduous and dangerous task of draining the 500 pounds of mercury bath, used to reduce friction for the rotating lens. Despite a sincere attempt by architects to design comfortable living quarters, exposure to rain, sea spray, and frigid wind was a serious problem in the lighthouse, especially during the colder months. Fisgardâssecond keeper, William Bevis, who served at Fisgard from 1861 until his death in 1879, reported that one violent November gale caused rain to...run through doors and windows...ä On one particularly cold January night, the lantern oil actually froze in the lamp! It took 2 hours for Bevis to thaw the oil by the fireplace. In 1928, automated acetylene equipment was introduced at the light station and Fisgardâs last light keeper, Captain Josiah Gosse, retired. The magnificent beacon at Fisgard Light Station continues to shine brightly today. Now a designated National Historic Site, the lighthouse is located inside Fort Rodd National Historic Park. Although much of the keeper's dwelling was destroyed during a 1957 fire, Parks Canada has beautifully restored the structure and established a wonderful museum and interpretive center.
Alcatraz Island Light
Rising up from the water like a rocky fortress, Alcatraz Island has been standing guard for eons at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. An early Spanish explorer, Juan Ayala, christened the island Isla de los Alactraces, or Isle of the Pelicans, after the large population of sea birds. Three miles to the east, the Golden Gate straight has beckoned immigrants and fortune seekers for more than two centuries. In 1848, the magical word "gold" was whispered in the nearby Sierra foothills, and San Francisco would never be the same.
After the Mexican War, officials came to the sobering realization that there were no lighted navigational aids on the entire west coast. With the rapid influx of settlers into the new territories, congress swiftly enacted legislation to resolve the problem. Funds were authorized to establish sixteen lighthouses between San Diego and Seattle. Several locations, including Alcatraz Island, were chosen in the San Francisco area.
On June 1st, 1854, the first lighthouse on the American Pacific Coast was illuminated on Alcatraz Island. Displaying a third order Fresnel lens, the new light helped ships find their way safely into San Francisco harbor. A fogbell was installed to guide mariners through the thick blankets of fog that frequently covered the Bay. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Army moved onto the island, and the station acquired a distinctly military appearance. Alcatraz Light remained basically unchanged until 1902, when the lens was replaced by a flashing, fourth order Fresnel, to distinguish it from other area lights.
In 1906, San Francisco was rocked by a devastating earthquake. Alcatraz Light suffered serious masonry and chimney damage. It was the work of men, however, and not Mother Nature, that dealt the old sentinel its final blow. Since 1868, light keepers had been sharing the island with a military prison. As the walls grew higher, the beacon was gradually hidden from view. In 1909, Alcatraz Light was torn down and replaced with an 84-foot octagonal tower, built of reinforced concrete. The lens was moved from the original tower and placed in the new lantern room. Combined with the island's natural elevation, the focal plane now reached a height of 214 feet, projecting the light beam for twenty-one miles.
Two decades later, authorities transformed the military penitentiary into a maximum security civilian prison. Alcatraz earned the dubious distinction of housing America's most notorious criminals. Commonly referred to as The Rock, Alcatraz was virtually impossible to escape from. Swift flowing currents and icy waters surrounding the islet spelled almost certain death for anyone attempting to swim away. During a 1946 uprising, immortalized in The Birdman of Alcatraz, the worst breakout occurred just a short distance from the lighthouse. In 1963, the brutal prison was shut down permanently. A few months later, the lighthouse and fog signals were automated. A revolving beacon replaced the old Fresnel lens.
In 1970, an unusual disturbance occurred on Alcatraz. Indian activists, applying an old law that required excess government lands to be returned to Native Americans, occupied the island for several months. For the first time in sixty years, the lighthouse was darkened as officials cut the electric power from the island. Before the Indians were finally evicted, the handsome keeper's dwelling was burned under mysterious circumstances. Today, this historic island has become a popular tourist destination, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Alcatraz Light, with its 200,000 candle-power beacon, remains one of California's most important navigational aids. It endures as a symbol of hope for many.
Saint George's Reef
St. George's Reef lighthouse went into service on October 20th, 1892. Its light measured 104 feet above sea level, and was one of the most expensive lighthouses ever built, due to its difficult location. Constructed six miles offshore, and designed to protect ships from the rocks and reefs of Point S. George in Northern California, it took ten long years to build. The lighthouse was first conceived in 1865 when the Sidewheeler U.S.S.Brother Jonathan went down on the reefs, and tragically 200 people perished. It was 17 years before a survey of the rock was done and not until 1887 was funding granted by Congress. The square tower was constructed of granite stones, the smallest of which weighed 5,000pounds, and the largest 34,000 pounds. Its construction was considered an engineering marvel.
Although lighthouse keeping is usually thought of as a manly task, many courageous women took up this lonely calling during the 19th and early20th centuries. Among these pioneers, sisters Helen and Mary Smith werethe first keepers at Point Fermin Light in San Pedro, California. The last of Point Fermin's keepers was another woman, Thelma Austin. From a family of light keepers, Thelma came to Point Fermin with her parents and siblings in 1917. Upon her parent's death in 1925, she continued to operate the station. Thelma remained at her post until two days before Pearl Harbor, when fear of foreign attack prompted the Coast Guard to darken the light. Point Fermin was named for Father Francisco Fermin de Lasuen in 1793 by his close friend, English explorer George Vancouver. A precarious site, known for the soil sliding into the ocean below, Point Fermin just into Los Angeles Harbor from the Palos Verdes Peninsula. During the gold rush period of the 1850s, many ships heading north along the California coastline never made it to their destination, having their hopes and hulls smashed to pieces on dark and lonely rocks. In response to the serious lack of navigational aids, Congress approved a string of eight lighthouses to be built between San Diego and San Francisco. In the coastal waters lying between Point Fermin and nearby PointVicente, 35 deep sea ships have met a terrible fate, mostly due to fog and dangerous rocks. Because of its strategic location, the cliffs at Point Fermin made an obvious choice for a light station. With the site having been selected by Phineas Banning four years earlier, in 1856,$4,000 was officially set aside for construction costs. Unfortunately, because of unresolved title disputes with the land owner, Don DIegoSepulveda, ground breaking did not begin for another 18 years. Point Fermin is a stunning example of the Victorian architecture of there. Built from redwood, fir, and brick, it is the last surviving Southern California wooden lighthouse of the period to remain intact. While the lumber came from northern mills, many other materials, including bricks and the Fresnel lens, were brought in by sailing ships via Cape Horn. The original oil lamp was replaced in 1925 by an automated electric light, with an 18 mile range. Although the light was extinguished because of World War II, Point Fermin served for the duration of the conflict as a radar station. After the war, Point Fermin was abandoned in favor of the much more powerful light station of Point Vincente, just a few miles away. The building and reservation grounds have been maintained by the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department since 1927. After hearing rumors that the lighthouse might be dismantled, two San Pedro residents, historian BillOlesen and Cabrillo Museum director John Olguin, launched a citizens campaign in 1969 for the preservation of the building. In 1972, Point Fermin was officially recognized by the National Park Service as a protected historical site. Today you will find beautiful Point Fermin Lighthouse restored much as it was 120 years ago. Although no longer open to the public on a regular basis, the ornate light tower and gingerbread-style keeper's quarters can easily be viewed from the city park. It remains one of the most photographed and admired sentinels on the Pacific coast.
Point Pinos Light
On the morning of April 18th 1906, Emily Fish was making her final round sat Point Pinos Light Station. Suddenly, around 5:00 a.m., the horses and cows became quite agitated. A few minutes later, the earth began to shake violently, and she heard the sound of breaking glass coming from the light tower. Sixty miles away, at Angel Island Light in San Francisco, her step-daughter, Juliet Nichols, watched helplessly as buildings on the mainland collapsed and burned. Although the damage at Point Pinos was considerable, the Great Earthquake of 1906 did little to dampen the spirit of Emily Fish. Emily A. Fish was born in 1843, the well-bred daughter of a prominent Michigan family. Some time after the passing of her sister, who died while giving birth in China, Emily married Dr. Melancthon Fish, her late sister's husband. Dr. Fish, an eminent medical doctor, held a consular post in China for a number of years. Unable to bear children, Emily raised her niece, Juliet, as her own daughter. Her husband later served as an Army surgeon during the Civil War. Not content to simply stay homeland wait for her husband's return, Emily bravely followed him from one battle camp to another. Dr. Fish eventually gave up his consular post in China. He established a private medical practice in Oakland, California, and taught at the University of California. Emily was only fifty when her husband died. Still an energetic and attractive woman, she determined to make herself useful. When her son-in-law, Henry Nichols, the area Lighthouse Inspector, casually mentioned the retirement of the Point Pinos Light keeper, Emily jumped at the chance. Henry, so like most people, found it difficult to refuse this determined woman, did his best to secure the appointment. Point Pinos Light was established at Pacific Grove in 1855, as only the second lighthouse to be built on the West Coast. In a style that would be repeated up and down the Pacific coastline, the Cape Cod-style building consisted of a simple, one-story dwelling with a tower rising through the center. Although the tower itself is quite small, the towering cliffs of Monterey Bay allowed the third-order Fresnel lens enough elevation to magnify the light considerably. It is interesting to note that Emily Fish was actually the second woman to tend Point Pinos Light. The first, Charlotte Layton, was widowed when her keeper husband, Charles, was killed pursuing a bandit, as part of a sheriff's posse in 1856.In 1893, Emily Fish moved into Point Pinos Lighthouse, changing the ambiance of this simple bungalow forever. She introduced thoroughbred horses, milk cows, white leghorn chickens, and even several French poodles, to roam the 95 acres of Point of Pines. Emily also brought along her faithful servant, Que, who had been with the family since their days in China. She decorated the house with antique furniture, beautiful paintings, fine china, and leather-bound books. The wind flown lawn was transformed into a lovely garden, with colorful flowers, a cypress hedge, and a picket fence. While allowing workers to care for the grounds and animals, Mrs. Fish took her position as light keeper to hears, personally polishing the precision lenses and keeping the lamps in fine working order. Emily Fish retired from the Lighthouse Service in 1914, remembered not only for her social graces, but for twenty years of serious dedication. Point Pinos Light remains active today, holding the distinction as the oldest, continuously active light on the Pacific Coast.
Old Point Loma
Since the earliest days of California history, the hills at Point Loma were recognized for their strategic importance. Early Spanish settler slit fires here to guide royal supply ships safely into San Diego Harbor. Unfortunately, at the time the United States acquired California in 1848,there were no lighted navigational aids on the entire Pacific Coast. Efforts were quickly made to rectify the situation. In the spring of 1854, lighthouse construction began in earnest at Point Loma. Builders used locally quarried sandstone and brick shipped in from Monterey. Various setbacks delayed completion until November of the following year. When an enormous first-order Fresnel lens arrived at the station for installation, officials were disappointed to discover it was too big for the lantern room. With construction costs already over budget, rebuilding the lighthouse was simply not an option. Reluctantly, the substituted a less powerful third-order lens. Rising 462 feet above sea level, the new light provided the highest focal plane of any station in the United States. On a clear night, mariners could easily spot the signal from twenty-five miles out, and even further. Point Lama's tremendous elevation was actually its greatest liability. Clouds lying lower than the height of the lighthouse often obscured the beacon from view. On stormy nights, when the light was most needed by ships, it was sometimes impossible to find. Old Point Lama's two most famous residents were Captain Robert Israel and his wife, Maria. Together, they served as keepers from 1871 until 1891.On cloudy or foggy nights, when the light was difficult to locate, Captain Israel fired a shotgun to warn ships away from the treacherous rocks below. Officials had neglected to install a foghorn at Point Loma.To earn extra income, Maria sold beautiful picture and mirror frames that she crafted from local shells. Their children and grandchildren contributed in their own way, acting as spotters for local whalers. After serving as a coastal, as well as a harbor light for only thirty-six years, the lantern was extinguished in 1891. A replacement tower was erected at the tip of Point Loma, just eighteen feet above sea level. After laying idle for a number of years, Old Point Loma Light was almost demolished in 1913 to make room for a statue of Juan Carrillo, the Spanish explorer. The statue was never erected though, and in 1933,President Roosevelt signed the historic lighthouse over to the National Park Service. In 1984, the lantern was relit to mark the station's 130thanniversary. Currently the centerpiece of Carrillo National Monument, Old Point Loma Light has recently been refurbished to depict the life of the Israel family in the 1880s. Standing outside, near the lighthouse, visitors can enjoy one of the most spectacular harbor views in the entire world. If you're fortunate, on a clear winter's day, you might see family of migrating gray whales on the horizon.
On a stormy June night in 1853, Captain Azariah Doane was maneuvering the Yankee clipper, Carrier Pigeon, off the coast of northern California. One hundred and twenty-nine days out of Boston and bound for San Francisco, Captain Doane thought he was near the Farallon Islands. It was a tragic mistake. With no navigational aids to guide him, and a thick fog rolling in, the 175-foot vessel ran aground on the shoals near Pescadero. Within minutes, the ship was dashed to pieces on the sharp rocks. Fortunately for the captain and his crewmen, the shore was just five hundred feet away. By some miracle, all hands survived. Several years later, this infamous headland was named Pigeon Point in honor of the doomed vessel. Twelve years later, the British ship Sir John Franklin met a similar fate. Her captain and twelve crew members were not as fortunate as those aboard the Carrier Pigeon. They drowned in the frigid January waters near Pigeon Point. These events, as well as the growing ship traffic between Santa Cruz and San Francisco, finally prompted the Lighthouse Board to take action. Land was purchased at Pigeon Point, and plans were initiated to build a brick light tower on the rocky shelf overlooking the point. In September 1871, a fog signal was placed at Pigeon Point, the first step-in safeguarding these waters. Eight months later, another signal was installed on nearby Ano Nuevo Island. Meanwhile, brick for the future light station was transported from the eastern U.S. by ship around Cape Horn. In the autumn of 1872, the handsome new station was finally completed. Rising 115 feet into the air, the conical white tower shares a unique distinction with Point Arena Lighthouse as one of the two tallest sentinels on the Pacific coast. To provide living quarters for the keepers, a simple Victorian duplex was constructed near the tower. On November 15th, Pigeon Point's new keeper climbed the spiral staircase and lit the lamps for the first time. With a focal plane of 148 feet, the powerful first-order Fresnel lens was able to project its beacon for many miles. For the next nine decades, Pigeon Point Light remained virtually unchanged, except for the addition of electricity. In 1960, the Coastguard tore down the keepers dwelling and replaced it with four bungalows. Twelve years later, in its centennial year of operation, Pigeon Point's beautiful Fresnel lens was removed. A powerful aero-marine beacon was installed on the tower gallery. Today, although the light has since been automated, mariners continue to rely on its 500,000-candlepower beacon. The station is currently leased to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Its four bungalows are operated through special agreement as a youth hostel. Located just off Highway One, this beautiful light station remains one of California's most treasured landmarks.
For centuries, navigators sailing along the northern California coast have noted a spur of land where the coast turns North-Northwest. a In1544, a Spanish explorer, Bartolomi Ferrelo of Spain, called this natural landmark ãCabo de Fortunas,ä or Cape of Fortune, as a tribute to the hardships endured on his journey. Other mariners would later call it Point Arena or appoint Bar of Sand.ä When the United States took possession of the California Territory in 1848, this beautiful, rugged land was largely untouched. Discovery of redwood brought rapid development to the Mendocino area. Large quantities of lumber were harvested from nearby forests and shipped to San Francisco. Unfortunately, the seas remained quite uncooperative. Turbulent waters, dense fog, and hidden rocks struck fear in the heart of the most experienced sea captain. One particular site, Arena Rock, lies just 6 feet beneath the water's surface. This one mile long reef brought disaster to dozens of hapless vessels over the years. In response to the ever increasing navigational problems along the Mendocino coastline, the U.S. Government issued an Executive Order in1868, setting aside Point Arena for the purpose of erecting a lighthouse. Construction began in September of 1869, albeit with difficulty. Much of the building materials had to be brought in from San Francisco and increased costs considerably. On May 1 1870, the lantern was lit for the first time in the 150-foot conical brick tower. Nearby, a two-story gothic dwelling was built large enough for four lighthouse keepers and their families. Mother Nature has always been harsh on Northern California. Dangers on coastal waters were compounded by earthquakes on land. No less than 4earthquakes were recorded at Point Arena between 1880 and 1906. One of these, in 1888, cracked the tower and extinguished the light. The tower was dealt its final death knell with the 1906 quake. Although history remembers the devastation in San Francisco, other areas also sustained considerable losses. Point Arena Light was damaged beyond repair. Reconstruction of Point Arena a Light was a tedious process that lasted the better part of two years. Engineers selected reinforced concrete instead of brick to make the 115-foot tower as earthquake resistant as possible. On September 15th 1908, Point Arena lit up the night sky with its new first-order Fresnel lens. The new tower has remained in active use ever since, and is considered on of the finest on the California coast. Stories surrounding Point Arena Light abound, especially regarding its most colorful keeper, Bill Owens, who kept a faithful watch between1937 and 1952. Following the trend of other stations, automation came in1977. Today, the grand old light is taken care of by a local nonprofit group, the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, who provide daily tours forth public. Erosion has become a serious problem, unfortunately. With the fullness of time, the sea will eventually reclaim the nearby cliffs.
East Quoddy Light
Fishing boats fished Îtil Christmas Eve, but light keepers had to work on Christmas Day. We had to make sure that the light and foghorn were operating. Still, we always had a wonderful white Christmas, with turkey and presents by the tree.ä ...Arthur Allison Stuart, last keeper at EastQuoddy Head Displaying the magnificent red cross of St. George, the lighthouse at East Quoddy Head has lighted the way for mariners since 1829. Officially referred to as Head Harbour Light Station, the historic wood tower is one of the oldest in Canada. The red markings are said to make the lighthouse easier to locate as a daymark when the station is blanketed by snow. Situated at the northern end of Campobello Island, the flashing red beacon warns sailors away from the headlands jagged, treacherous rocks. During the early 1800s, when the United States and Great Britain we reengaged in economic warfare, enterprising citizens of Eastport, Maine, and nearby Campobello Island, New Brunswick, smuggled great quantities of goods between the two countries. By the 1820s, shipping, shipbuilding, and fishing were flourishing throughout Passmaquoddy Bay. Unfortunately, because of fast rising tides, the infamous fogs rolling in from the Bayof Fundy, and the hazardous rocks and shoals surrounding Campobello Island, sailors risked their lives traversing these waters. In 1829, Canadian authorities established a light station on a rocky outcropping at Head Harbour so that trade would be benefited and vessels and lives saved. a 51-foot octagonal white tower was erected, built of heavy timber. Shortly thereafter, to accommodate light keepers and their families, a handsome dwelling was attached to the tower. In 1880, after repeated requests by mariners, the fog alarm was upgraded. Just prior to World War I, a fog signal building and work shed were added to the property. In 1947, a boathouse was completed, the last major structural change to the station. East Quoddyâs last keeper, Arthur Allison Stuart, arrived at the sentinel in January 1984. A veteran light keeper since 1962, Allison served at many of the lighthouses in the Bay of Fundy area. His wife, Betty, the adopted daughter of a light keeper, spent most of her life living in lighthouses. In October 1986, Allison climbed the steps to the lantern room for the last time to say farewell to his beloved light. Although the beacon is now automated, its importance is undiminished byte passage of time. With a range of 13 nautical miles, the light continues to warn ships pilots and fishermen to keep their distance from the craggy headland. Campobello Island is one of New Brunswick's most scenic destinations. Visitors will be enchanted by the beautiful coves, playful seals and flocks of wild birds. No journey here would be complete without a visitor the historic 34 room summer cottage of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It was here, while vacationing at his beloved boyhood summer home, that Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio in 1921. Today, the beautiful house is part of Roosevelt Campobello International Park, wonderful destination for camping, hiking, swimming, and relaxation. Visiting the lighthouse is a feat not to be taken lightly, as can be attested by Harbour Light's own Bill and Nancy Younger. The outcropping's only accessible during low tide and is essentially an island at all other times. Although the tower and outbuildings are closed to the public, there is an excellent view available from the cliff facing the tower. After a three-mile walk along a dirt road, you will need to climb up and down two slippery ladders and cross algae covered rocks. Donâtlose track of the time, as the high tide can rise here at the amazing rate of five feet per hour and leave you stranded! When you finally reach your destination, the breathtaking sight will have been well worth the effort.
At the mouth of the Connecticut River, where fresh water empties into Long Island Sound, settlers of Old Saybrook and Fenwick realized early on that their harbor would never be a bustling seaport. Dangerous sandbars and shallow water prohibited large vessels from safely laying anchor here. Even small boats had to be careful, never knowing when the sand might suddenly shift beneath their hulls. While a small beacon at LyndePoint marked the mouth of the river as early as 1803, it was simply not adequate to warn mariners away from two huge sandbars lying on the east and west side of the rivers entrance. In 1875, the federal government created a plan to construct a pair of parallel breakwaters or jetties at the entrance to the river to hold back the shifting sand. Plans were also drawn to dredge a deep channel between the jetties, allowing safe passage of ships. While the western breakwater was completed in less than a year, the eastern project dragged on for almost five years before the final stone was laid. Upon the urging of the Lighthouse Board, in 1882, Congress authorized $20,000 for a beacon light to be constructed on the western jetty wall. Unfortunately, the funds were barely half of the money that was actually needed. After a four-year delay, adequate appropriations were finally made, and the SaybrookBreakwater Light and channel were completed. Referred to by locals as the outer Light, and the prefabricated cast-iron tower stood 49 feet high and sported a fourth-order Fresnel optic with a flashing green beacon. Although later replaced by a diaphragm horn, in the early days a 1000-pound bell tolled here when fog rolled through theSound.On September 21, 1938, Keeper Sidney Gross and his assistant were faced with a gale force hurricane. Throughout the long night, while the storm destroyed much of the station, they kept the beacon going. Although their wet batteries were useless, they somehow managed to install a backup oil wick lamp and keep it lit, despite the violent shaking of the tower. Thankfully, both of these dedicated keepers lived to see anotherdaybreak.After 1958, the fog signal was converted to remote control, and the keepers were moved to Lynde Point Light, standing watch at SaybrookBreakwater only during inclement weather. Ten years later, the station was fully automated and at long last converted from wet batteries to An electrical current. Today, the old sentinel is still a friend to passing mariners.
New London Ledge
Surrounded by water, a most unusual lighthouse stands guard at the entrance to New London Harbor. Rising three stories from the surface of the water, New London Ledge Light has guided ships away from disaster for nine decades. In 1760, the citizens of New London held a lottery to raise money for much-needed lighthouse. This colonial city, named for the famous European capitol, is home to another English namesake, the Thames River. At the entrance to the Thames, where the river empties into the Long Island Sound, hazardous shoals and rocky ledges lie just below the surface, ready to strike the bow of an unsuspecting ship. New London Harbor Light was considered a marvel in its time. Unfortunately, during fog and inclement weather, the stone lighthouse was simply not adequate to warn mariners away from the shoals. In 1890, the Lighthouse Service recommended that a new lighthouse be established at New London Harbor. Because of Congressional delays, however, eighteen years passed until work actually began. After examining several underwater ledges, engineers settled on Southwest Ledge, located mile from the shoreline, to build the modern, caisson-style sentinel. Standing in twenty-eight feet of water, the foundation was constructed inside a timber crib, 52 feet square and 31 feet high. Architects chose stylish French Second Empire design for the structure, ensuring that New London Ledge Light would never be confused with another station. Built at a cost of $93,968, an exorbitant amount in its day, each corner of the lighthouse pointed toward one of the four points of the compass. On November 10 1909, the fourth-order Fresnel lens was illuminated forth first time. Fueled by mineral oil, mariners could spot the flashing, red and white beacon for more than sixteen miles. As an extra measure of security, a fog-signal apparatus was added in 1911.Although the light was automated in 1986, there are many who believe the old sentinel still houses an unusual resident. As the story goes, an assistant keeper named John Randolph was assigned, along with his wife, to this lonely outpost during the 1920s. Apparently, Mrs.. Randolph was quite miserable spending her days imprisoned in the eleven-room fortress. At the first opportunity, she escaped from the dismal rock with a sailor or harbor pilot. Her husband, embarrassed and distraught, committed suicide soon after. According to the legend, New London Ledge Light has-been haunted ever since. Numerous keepers have reported strange happenings here. One keeper's wife and several children during the 1940sspoke of a bearded man appearing and then simply vanishing. Keepers and locals affectionately refer to the apparition as "Ernie" Strangely, there is no written record of Mr. Randolph serving at the light. Those who have had experiences with the special visitor, however, are quite certain of his existence.
Great Captain Island
Although the funds for the light were first appropriated in 1829, it wasn't actually completed until 1838. The states of Connecticut and New York both claimed the Island as a part of their jurisdiction, and their struggle continued for over 50 years, at which time Connecticut was givencontrol.In 1973, the town of Greenwich, Connecticut purchased the lighthouse and its land from the Federal Government for a price of $42,000. It is open for recreational purposes, only to Greenwich residents, and is accessible from the water.
For the people of Guilford, Connecticut, their beloved sentinel on Faulkner's Island is not simply another lighthouse. For the citizens in this small town on Long Island Sound, this old light station represents an important part of history, a legacy to pass on to their children and grandchildren. Four miles form the coastline, dangerous reefs abound in the waters surrounding Faulkner's Island, creating serious problems for mariners. In1801, the federal government purchased the three-acre islet form the State of Connecticut and commissioned a lighthouse to be established here. A year later, a forty-six foot rubble stone tower was completed on the eastern side of the island. Rising ninety-four feet above sea level, the lighthouse has served mariners for nearly 200 years, one of our nation's oldest active stations. In 1976, a fire destroyed the keeper's house and burned the tower's interior. Soon after, vandals invaded the station, causing further damage. Eventually, the Coast Guard repaired the tower and reinforced the structure to ward off intruders. The island was turned over to the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service in 1985. With the passage of time, wind, rain, and pounding surf have eroded the embankment near the lighthouse. Although the erosion has progressed at a rate of about six inches during normal year, in 1992, ten feet were lost in the tidal surges of one bad storm. Today, the tower is less than thirty-four feet from plunging into the ocean. Although Faulkner's Island Lighthouse was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, the old sentinel is not well known outside of New England. Some mariners call it the forgotten child. Despite its anonymity, however, there has been a determined response form local residents to save the tower. In 1991, the Guilford Preservation Alliance formed the ten member Faulkner's Light Brigade. Their mission is to save the light and a flock of rare, endangered roseate terns that neston the island. In the past five years, more than 1000 people have joined the original ten members, donating time and money to increase public awareness about the lighthouse. Their rallying cry has been Don't Let the Light Go Out September 1996, Congress approved $1.5 million to cover the first part of an erosion control project, to be conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The State of Connecticut has contributed $250,000 and local fundraising by the Faulkner's Light Brigade has raised another $50,000 to restore the lighthouse itself. Although another $3 million will be needed to complete the erosion project, this is a great start and a wonderful example of private sector and governmental cooperation.
Stonington Harbor Lighthouse
As visitors approach Stonington Harbor Lighthouse, it is hard to avoid the impressive display of 19th century cannon, not far from the light. In1814, more than two decades before the old stone lighthouse was constructed, British warships shelled this lovely seaport. Led by the same Commodore Thomas Hardy, who years earlier held Lord Nelson as he lay dying at Trafalgar, the British did not expect much of a response from the quiet fishing village. The tenacious New Englanders, however, had surprise of their own, and repelled the invaders with a barrage of cannon fire. Those guns are now a proud, permanent fixture in Stonington's Cannon Square. Stonington resides near the geographical juncture of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York, on Long Island Sound. Founded in 1649, the picturesque town served as an important whaling center for nearly two centuries. Connecticut's first lighthouse was established on the Westside of Stonington Harbor at Windmill Point in 1824. Consisting of a thirty-foot cylindrical stone tower and house, this early light utilized and fixed white Lewis optic, offering an effective range of 12 nauticalmiles. Within 14 years, however, erosion brought the sea to within thirty feet of the tower. Officials had no choice but to move the beleaguered lighthouse to safer grounds on the east side of the harbor. By 1840, the moving and reconstruction of Stonington Harbor Light at its current site was complete. With the higher elevation of the new location, the beacon was not 67 feet above sea level. Due to the fine stonemasonry, a good portion of the original materials were able to be relocated. A wonderful stone stairway still winds its way through the tower until this present day. Two years after the lighthouse was relocated, Stonington's keeper passed away. His widow, Patty Potter, took up the duties taught to her by her husband, and remained in her post until 1854. A year later, in keeping with the standards instituted by the Lighthouse Board, the antiquated lamp was replaced by a sixth-order Fresnel lens. Ferry steamers, cargo ships, and fishing vessels could now spot the beacon from a gooddistance.As the dawn of a new century approached, it became quite clear that Stonington Harbor had outlived its usefulness. By 1899, construction of a steel tower light on Stonington's inner breakwater, and a cast iron light on the outer breakwater, had rendered the old station obsolete. Keepers from the outer beacons, Stonington Breakwater Light, continued to use the inactive sentinel as a residence until 1908. The old structure eventually found its way into the hands of the Stonington Historical Society. In1927, Stonington Harbor Lighthouse was transformed into the Old Lighthouse Museum. Displaying artifacts dating back to the days of the Pequot Indians, the museum tells the story of early New England. Visitors can examine whaling gear, ship models, antique firearms, naval cutlasses, and boarding knives, as well as old spinning wheels and authentic period clothing Situated at the south end of Water Street on the harbor, it is one of the finest maritime museums of its kind.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Philadelphia's early trade came through Delaware Bay and the Delaware River, where the merchants and ship owners suffered many losses due to shipwrecks. Although there is some evidence of temporary forms of light in the area, like whale oil lamps or kettles of burning tar, no permanent lighthouse was installed, and loss of life and cargo continued for many years along this treacherous coast.
To rectify the problem, leaders of Philadelphia organized a lottery to build a lighthouse at the entrance to the bay, near Lewes Delaware. Even though lotteries were common means of fund raising in those days (primarily for churches but sometimes for improvement to the cities) Cape Henlopen is the only lighthouse ever built by lottery.
Tickets sold for 40 shillings each in 1761 and 1762. Land was purchased in 1763 and construction was completed on the octagonal design in 1765. The solid granite walls of the Cape Henlopen stood 69 feet, 3 inches tall, tapering from 6 foot thick at the base to 3 foot 3 inches at the top.
Cape Henlopen was said to be one of the most important navigational aids in the new world because of its importance of the location to the bay and Philadelphia. When it was built it was the tallest building in the USA
At the time of its construction the 69 foot lighthouse stood atop a high sand dune, about a quarter mile from the ocean and 3,300 feet from the north tip of the Cape.
The light reflector was imported from France for 40,000 dollars, franks, or shillings as I'm now sure which means of currency was use as the recorded amounts unclear in history books. There has been discussion over this over the years. The granite stone was brought over from Mother England before we were a United States in the 1760's.
In 1777, during the Revolutionary War, the lighthouse was gutted by fire and not repaired or returned to activity duty until 1784. No one is certain how the fire began, , but it was said to be the work of a British landing party who requested fresh cattle that were grazing on the lighthouse grass. Angered by the keeper refusing them the cattle, the British crewmen apparently set fire to the lighthouse in retaliation. For the remainder of the war, Cape Henlopen remained unlit and stood only as a daytime landmark.
Repairs were made in 1784 and, once again, Cape Henlopen became fully operational. For more than one hundred years afterward, preservationists battled shifting sands to protect Cape Henlopen from deteriorating, but frequent storms would undo whatever progress has been made. Early in the 20 th century, an inspector warned of serious damage; the solution was abandonment.
During the Revolution, the lighthouse was used as a lookout station to observe incoming vessels and send warnings to Philadelphia if an armed British ship would start up the Delaware Bay.
|Cape Henlopen Lighthouse|
|Circa 1900||1926 about to fall into the sea.||
April 27 1926
Day after Cape Henlopen Lighthouse fell.
|Courtesy US Coast Guard|
Cape Henlopen was last lit Sept. 20. 1924. High tides and strong winds toppled it on April 13, 1926. Souvenir hunters and stone sellers made short work of most of the remains, but in the Zawendale museum, located in Lewes you can see displays of some the artifacts.
In final years of existence, the light house teetered on the edge of an 80 great sand dune. About noon on April 13, 1926 a sudden wind with great velocity and fierce gust swept the lighthouse to tumble it into the sea. This brought tremendous sounds of destruction which could be heard for miles. In a mere five minutes it all but completely tumbled down the dune and into the sea.
Some legends still living today witnessed such a fall near by. Upon the fall many locals immediately gathered to collect the many granite bricks that build the lighthouse.
Because of so much collection, there are many homes in the area with original fireplaces made of the Old Cape Henlopen. There is one family who to this day has a huge pile of such bricks in the back of there once farm yard now home back yard. The bricks were offered to build the recent replica but for some unknown reason was not accepted by the City.
Interesting facts abound the lighthouse. It was tradition in Rehoboth to go to the great dunes on Easter Sunday and have an Easter Egg roll down the dunes. Such pictures appear in many locals personal albums.
The dunes were the sight to many a Sunday picnic and family celebrations all welcomed by the various lighthouse keepers. The sand dunes were as high as the dunes in North Carolina called Jockeys Ridge. They since have dissipated into the sea.
In 1925 an old realtors office located on the first block of Rehoboth Avenue, shaped like the lighthouse replica with extra windows added, was donated to the City for restoration. It was moved to its present location at the entrance of Rehoboth Beach. It was known to mark the entrance to Rehoboth Beach. The project was donated by a local women club, Village Improvement Association. It too weathered damage over the years. In 1996 the replica was torn down after much local controversy and replaced by an exact one third (1/3) replica. It was placed in the same location as the original replica.
The moneys gathered by locals of Rehoboth Beach and the Historical Society of Rehoboth Beach, funded the new replica. It took approximately $15,000 plus countless hours of City employees and many volunteers hours to complete the project. Many of the original pictures and artifacts about the lighthouse can be viewed in the Anna Hazard Museum in downtown Rehoboth Beach on Philadelphia Avenue. The Anna Hazard building is also an original camp meeting cabin (not replica) from the beginnings of the City back in 1874.
A few years earlier before the replica was reconstructed, the old town train station dated 1879, was donated by Dominick Pulieri and was moved from the first block of Rehoboth Avenue to its present location next to the replica lighthouse. The train station was also completely restored and now houses the Chamber of Commerce.
Immediately to the east of the replica lighthouse, approximately 10 feet is a plaque placed over a time capsule. The time capsule is sealed in an air tight vault to be open in 2090, one year before the City of Rehoboth Beaches 200 year bicentennial. It was placed in the ground filled with many local treasures by anyone who attended the ceremony and filled with all the history, pictures, and treasures the 100 year Centennial committee could collect to be placed in the time capsule for future reference. Also in the capsule is the dye of the minted coin made for the Centennial. A good collectors item from the Centennial are these numbered minted silver and gold plated coins. There were only 1000 made and many sold during the Centennial. A few coins are still available for purchase at City Hall in Downtown Rehoboth Beach on Rehoboth Avenue. It is said it will be a very valuable rare treasure, and a wonderful memory of Rehoboth Beach..
The lighthouse is the City of Rehoboth Beaches' seal and on their unofficial City Flag. As a matter of fact Rehoboth Beach was first named Cape Henlopen City and later renamed Rehoboth Beach. The name "Cape Henlopen City" apparently did not gain sufficient appeal during the town's first two years of existence. On May 2, 1893, the State General Assembly formally changed the name to simply Rehoboth. In 1937 another act was passed making the change to what we use today, "The City of Rehoboth Beach".
The Henlopen Beacon
(Copied from the ) Rehoboth Beacon
dated July 1, 1899
Volume I, No I price 3 cents
It is our purpose to present in each of our issues a good illustrations of some building, person or view of interest to the dwellers at Rehoboth and our first illustration is of the old light that welcomes mariner to the entrance of the Delaware Bay. We see the bright gleams and the form of the great lighthouse so plainly that we are tempted on reaching the beach to immediately start fir it, and unless happily warned, we start out and,in weariness and discomfort, find what seemed to be a mile increase about five fold. Fully informed as to the distance, with ample time and proper tides, in proper attire, we start on foot, by stage of wheel and enjoy a pleasant time, wondering at that freak of nature, the great sand dunes about its base, and climbing this we find the half covered house, and our obliging friend, the keeper who lives there and who is always willing to climb the lofty iron staircase and to proudly show us the big reflectors, which were imported from France many years ago at a cost of $40,000, and to pint out the solid masonry which was built in the days of the colonies and with stone bought from Motherland. Now we see the mechanism that supplies the great lamps with oil, and look out upon the expanse of Ocean and Bay. We see the dangerous shoal of the Hens and Chickens and see the Breakwater and something of the operations now on foot to build a second larger stone work to make secure harbor for all manner of craft of the sea. Register your name ere you leave and thank our genial friend Captain Joseph for his hospitality and return to the good food supplied at our Hotels and Cottages, and you cannot but admit that the day has been well profitably spent. Another word: If you have any used magazines papers & take them with you and leave them to cheer the monotonous lives of, the light keepers.
Driving along Highway One, just north of the Maryland border, visitors new to this lovely seaside area are often delighted to notice a quaint brick lighthouse nestled amongst the homes. Just outside of the lighthouse fence is a historic stone marker, dating back to 1751. Known as the crown stone, this colonial monument marked the officialTranspeninsular line, ending a century's old border dispute between the Calvert families, who founded Maryland, and the Penn families, who founded Pennsylvania and Delaware. Also on display, inside the fence, is an enormous original salt pot, once used by local tradesmen to make salt for eager customers in Philadelphia. In the early part of the nineteenth century, coastal shipping, along within bound traffic from Europe, increased dramatically in the Delaware Bay. As ships made their way into the Bay, they were faced with a deadly obstacle, the Fenwick Shoals, lying just off Fenwick Island. Mariners complained bitterly that there were no lighted navigational aids to guide them safely into the Bay. Finally, in 1856, acting upon recommendation from the Lighthouse Board, Congress authorized funding for a light station. Two years later, ate-acre tract of land was purchased near the Maryland-Delaware border. Rather than building the lighthouse near the water's edge, engineers chose a strategic location, three-tenths of a mile inland, the highest point in the area. A handsome keeper's dwelling was completed in 1858,and the tower a year later. Standing 87-feet tall, the sturdy tower is actually two towers in one. The outer tower is conical-shaped, while the inner is cylindrical. On August 1, 1859, the 15,000 candlepower light was illuminated for the first time, casting its much needed beacon to mariners fifteen miles away. In 1878, a second dwelling was added to accommodate the growing keeper's families. Until 1880, when a bridge finally connected Fenwick Island tithe mainland, the only way keepers could shop for provisions, visit relatives, or send their children to school was by boat. Two of Fenwick's most well-known keepers, David Warrington and his son-in-law, Edward Pepper, were Delaware natives and served with distinction throughout much of the latter nineteenth century. Pepper's grandson, Paul Pepper, has-been instrumental in rallying public support to preserve the historic station. In 1978, the Coast Guard deactivated the beacon and prepared to dispose of the station. Public outcry, led by Paul Pepper, convinced the government to turn over control of the sentinel to a nonprofit organization, Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse In 1982, the beacon was relit. Although the keepers dwellings are now privately owned, the tower is open to the public during the summer months.
In Cornwall, at the southwestern most point on the English mainland, lies a rock-strewn cape known as Land's End. Tourists have flocked here for centuries to experience the mild climate, breathe the pure salt air and take in the breathtaking scenery. Roughly a mile and a quarter from the cliffs at Land's End, a chain of small islands rise up from the water. Resembling a fleet of ships, locals call the place Long ships. Standing regally atop Carn Bras, the largest of these rocky islets, is one of England's most famous landmarks, Long ships Lighthouse. Recognizing the dangers posed to ships by the islands and submerged rocky shoals, Lieutenant Henry Smith secured a private license from Trinity House to build a lighthouse on the Long ships in 1795. Mr. Smith intended to pay rent to the government while earning a living collecting fees from passing ships. His tenure, however, was not long at this difficult post, and Trinity House soon took over the operation. Standing just 40 feet high atop the highest point on Carn Bras, the original light cast its beacon from 80 feet above sea level. The heavy seas near Long ships often produced waves that broke higher than the lighthouse, sometimes damaging the station seriously. By 1870, it was clear that Long ships needed larger and sturdier sentinel. After three long years, the 127-footmagnificent brick tower was completed a few feet from the other lighthouse. Timing seemed just about perfect. In 1874, the rock upon which the original light had stood for 78 years split and plunged into the ocean! Work at this lonely outpost was hard and often dangerous. When keepers were given occasional relief, they returned by boat to their families living in the cliffs at Land's End. From the upper windows of the cottages, keepers wives could plainly see the lighthouse on a clear day. To communicate, husbands and wives would send each other messages by semaphore, aided by telescopes. Standing in front of the lighthouse's white door, husbands would return messages of importance and comfort. On a clear night on November 10, 1898, the steamship S.S. Blue jacket ran aground at Long ships just a few feet from the lighthouse. Thanks to the quick thinking of the light keepers and the boatman at nearby Sennen Cove, all 22 crewmen were saved. Although automated since 1967, Long ships Light remains an important aid to navigation. Today, helicopters can land on the tower's heliport, enabling quick and easy access to the station. Flashing its electric beacon white for 18 miles towards the sea and red for 15 miles towards land, mariners can rest assured that their journey will be a safe one.