Cape Canaveral Light
Centuries before the dawn of the Space Age, Cape Canaveral was considered an important landing place for navigators. Early Spanish explorers used the quiet lagoons sheltered by this sandy headland as a refuge from stormy seas. Ponce de Leon, during his quest for gold and the fabled fountain of youth, names the promontory Cabo de los Corrientes, or "Cape of Currents," because of the strong offshore currents. Later explores used the name Canaberal (Canaveral), or "Place of Reeds," perhaps in reference to the reed arrows used against the Europeans by hostile local natives. Today, most local residents simply refer to this important landmark as "the Cape."
Over the next 300 years, vessels were continually wrecked on the dangerous shoals off Cape Canaveral. Navigational aids became increasingly important. In 1848, local officials erected the first lighthouse on the Cape, albeit with very little knowledge of lighthouse engineering. The 60-foot structure proved to be so ineffective, by the time ships were close enough to see the light, they were often already upon the very shoals they were trying to avoid.
In 1860, approval to build a 145-foot cast iron tower was given by the Lighthouse Board. Construction was unfortunately halted by the onset of the Civil War. The original tower, along with all other southern lights, was darkened for the duration of the war, by order of the Confederate Secretary of the Navy. After the war, construction of the new tower resumed, although somewhat slowly. On May 10th, 1868, the new station finally exhibited its powerful, first order Fresnel lens. With a focal plane of 137 feet, mariners could spot the beacon for more than 18 nautical miles.
Cape Canaveral's most famous and colorful keeper was, without a doubt, Captain Mills Burnham. Captain Burnham, a self-reliant and tenacious individual, faithfully tended the original light, as well as the replacement tower, from 1853 until his death in 1886. For more than three decades, he and his family rescued shipwrecked sailors, fought off Seminole warriors, and endured long periods of isolation. During the Civil War, he dutifully followed Confederate orders and dismantled the lighting apparatus from the tower. He carefully buried the lamps and clockwork in his orange grove, and spent the remainder of the war living off the land. After the war, Burnham dug up the hidden equipment and returned it to its proper place. Everything still worked perfectly! Upon his death, Captain Burnham was succeeded by his son-in-law. Not surprisingly, each of Captain Burnham's five daughters eventually married lightkeepers.
Like many south Atlantic lighthouses, the Cape Canaveral station was built on shifting sands. Beach erosion so seriously threatened the tower, by 1883, only 192-feet separated the lighthouse from crashing waves. Attempts to fight the encroaching ocean with jetties proved futile. Between 1893 and 1894, the Lighthouse Board dismantled the iron and brick tower and re-erected it a mile and a quarter further inland. It has remained active until this day.
In 1964, Cape Canaveral, was renamed Cape Kennedy, in honor of the fallen President. It was John Kennedy who inspired the nation to put a man of the moon by 1970. Local citizens eventually persuaded the government to change Cape Kennedy back to its historic name. 1994 marked the 100th anniversary of the current lighthouse location. From a distance, the old sentinel has often been mistaken for a rocket ship by launch observers, especially when viewed from a southerly direction. During nighttime launches of the space shuttle, the familiar beacon can be seen reflecting off the shuttle's hull…a poignant reminder of our nautical heritage.
Jupiter Inlet Light
Soon after the United States took possession of Florida in 1821,lighthouses began to spring up all along the peninsula's coast. In contrast to the scenic landscape, the waters surrounding Florida are filled with hidden dangers. Treacherous shoals and reefs, unmarked headlands, and shifting sandbanks made navigation a formidable task. In1856, funds were authorized to build a light station on Jupiter Island,15 miles north of present day Palm Beach. Jupiter Island is located at the mouth of the Loxahatchee River, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean. A large reef located just offshore created a major obstacle to westbound ships needing to cross the Gulf Stream before heading north. Difficulties plagued the construction of Jupiter Inlet Light from the onset. Mosquitoes, trouble from native Seminoles, and oppressive heat were only the beginning. Because the shallow inlet waters made it impossible for large boats to navigate, building materials had to be unloaded at another location 35 miles away, and brought in on small shallow draft scows. It was not until July of 1860 that the lantern was finally lit. The 105 foot brick tower raised the focal plane of the first-order Fresnel lens to 146 feet above sea level. Jupiter Inlet Light was designed by George Gordon Meade, a career Army officer who built many of Florida's lighthouses, including the revolutionary screw pile lights on the Florida Reef. The newly installed light was unfortunately short lived. A little more than one year after its lighting, Confederate soldiers removed the lens from Jupiter Light, in an effort to frustrate a Union shipping blockade. In an interesting historical footnote, it was the same General George Made who would later face down Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. Shortly after the Civil War, Captain James A. Armour found the lens buried in nearby Jupiter Creek. By the end of 1866, he had the light reinstalled and fully operational. A year later, Captain Armour brought his new bride to lonely Jupiter Island, and enjoyed a record 40-yearcareer as light keeper. In 1928, a dreadful hurricane pounded the area around Jupiter Inlet, completely knocking out the lighthouses new electrical system. Despite a severely infected hand, Keeper Charles Seabrook somehow managed to reinstall the light's old mineral lamps. Weakened by pain, however, hewas unable to operate the lamps manually. His sixteen-year-old son convinced his father that he could climb the tower and keep the light moving. With the tower swaying 17 feet off center, this brave young lad turned the light by hand for four excruciating hours. Tropical storms are a sobering part of Florida coastal life. Although asign in front of Jupiter Light says at has not missed a night in over100 years, the light was briefly put out of commission after a severe hurricane struck the tower in the 1950s. In 1972, another powerful gale forced a steamer aground just south of Jupiter Inlet. Thanks to the gallant effort of the light keeper, all passengers and crew got off the freighter safely, including 3 orphaned puppies, who were adopted by thekeeper.In recent years, Jupiter Inlet Light has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building itself is actually built on an ancient Native American mound of oyster shells. The distinctive red tower's, without a doubt, on of the most recognized sites on the Florida coast. Although the beacon is now fully automated, the original first order lens is still in place. Visitors are encouraged to visit the famous sentinel and share a part of history.
Key West Lighthouse
Key West comes from the Spanish, ãCayo Hueso,ä meaning ãBone Islandä Wedonât know why Spanish explorers found the remains of so many on this small island...the name conjures up images of pirates and shipwrecks and horrible storms, but what ever the reason, Key West is an intriguingplace.The first lighthouse was built in 1825, but sadly, was short lived. In1846, a hurricane swept through Key West and destroyed the lighthouse and took the lives of many of the townspeople. Not deterred by the tragic loss of her children, Mrs. Mabrity, widow of the original keeper, returned to care for the new light when it went into service the next year. She continued as keeper for the next 14 years, showing commitment worthy of admiration. Key West is wonderfully restored and is open to the public. Please Don't miss an opportunity to visit one of our nation's most exotic and unusual sites.
On the north side of Hillsboro Inlet near Pompano Beach, a spectacular light tower reaches toward the sky. For hundreds of years, particularly before the advent of lighthouses, mariners feared the coral reefs that lie along the Atlantic cost of southern Florida. Pompano Beach marks the northern limit of the reef system. In 1885, the Lighthouse Service made its first request to Congress for a lighted aid at Hillsboro Point. The request was duly noted, and ignored, each year for the next 22 years. In 1907, funding was finally authorized for the station, the last to be erected in Florida. In a pragmatic move, the government elected to purchase a ready-made tower that had been created for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. Standing 132 feet high, the iron skeletal tower was anchored by six huge iron piles, designed to survive the worst possible storm. In the center of the tower, a metal cylinder housed a winding stairway. The bottom third of the cylinder was painted white to contrast with the background trees; the top was painted black to show up against the daylight sky. The crown jewel of the sentinel was its second-order bivalve Fresnellens, often referred to by locals as the Big Diamond. With a focal plane of 136 feet, the optic cast a beam more than twenty miles, serving as a coastal light and guide for ships entering the inlet. The lens was so effective that it sometimes ignited fires when sunlight was concentrated through its precision prisms. Eventually, keepers built a shield on the beacon's inland side. One of Hillsboro Inlet's most celebrated keepers was the grandson of Mills Burnham, the legendary keeper of the light at Cape Canaveral. Early pioneers in southern Florida, such as Burnham, were renowned for their resourcefulness. In 1887, James Hamilton, a barefoot postman who delivered mail from Jupiter Inlet to Miami, died while trying to bring the mail across Hillsboro Inlet. His courage and dedication, commemorated in a famous statue, is an enduring symbol of this area. Hillsboro Inlet Light was automated in 1974. In May 1992, the mechanism that turns the classic lens broke, and the station's duties were takeover by a modern marine beacon. While initially reluctant to repair the mechanism, at the urging of the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society and the Pompano Beach Historical Society, in 1998, the Coast Guard decided to restore the historic lens and relight the beacon.
Shortly after the United States took possession of the territory of Florida in 1819, it turned its attention to navigational aids. Although the western shoreline was sparsely populated, pirates and smugglers abounded. The need for a full-time Naval presence in the Gulf of Mexico became quickly obvious. Unfortunately, the nearest base to call home was situated thousands of miles away on the eastern seaboard. In 1824, a prudent decision was made to establish a deep water Naval Base in Pensacola. The following year, Florida's first Gulf coast lighthouse was erected at the south entrance of the bay, to guide warships in and out of this exceptional harbor. The first lighthouse in Pensacola was relatively small and had little more use than that of a small harbor light. After much prodding, Congress finally approved financing for a new tower. In 1858, a 171-foot brick tower with a modern first-order lens was erected on the north side of the bay, raising the lantern to 210 feet above the sea. The powerful new beacon could be seen up to twenty-one miles at sea. The war between the states brought new problems for this noble structure. Union gunners attempting to rout Confederate artillery men dug in around the lighthouse, found the large tower to be an ideal target. Unable to withstand the constant bombardment, rebel soldiers abandoned their positions, but not before stealing the lens and apparatus. These were carefully hidden and not recovered until after the war. It would not be until 1869 that a first -order lens finally shone again in this majestic tower. Pensacola Light has withstood a war, countless lightning strikes, and even an earthquake. Despite all of this, the resilient black and white tower still appears much as it did more than a century ago. Although long ago automated, the brilliant light beam continues to guide Naval vessels and Coast Guard cutters into port.
Ponce de Leon Inlet
Along the northeastern shore of Florida lies a narrow strip of land, inhabited by native Seminoles when Spain ceded the territory to America. To the west, a long, sheltered waterway beckons to weary sailors. Appropriately named Mosquito Lagoon by the first English-speaking settlers to the region, the quiet harbor provided a safe haven for ships seeking refuge at night from dangerous reefs nearby. In 1834, officials made a determined effort to erect a lighthouse at Mosquito Inlet, the entrance for ships sailing into the lagoon. Despite the oppressive heat, hungry insects and sandy soil, workers built a tower on the south side of the inlet within a year. But before they could install the lighting apparatus, a powerful storm weakened the tower's foundations. By this time, the local Seminoles had become increasingly hostile, preventing workers from repairing the damage. Before long, the tower collapsed and was abandoned. A half century went by before officials ordered a replacement tower on the north side of Mosquito Inlet, later renamed Ponce de Leon Inlet. In1884, when construction began, 60 miles of coastline between St.Augustine and Cape Canaveral were still completely dark. Since local stone was apparently hard to come by, a decision was made to bring brick down from the north by ship. Unloading and erecting a 168-foot brick tower was extremely dangerous work, and before the lantern was lit on January 6, 1888, seven people died, including engineer Orville Babcock, a close friend of Ulysses Grant. These tragic events cast a shadow on an otherwise tremendous achievement. Flashing its white beacon to ships 20miles away, the new tower was the second tallest on the Atlantic coast. Even after the tower was erected, there were still major obstacles. Oil had to be brought in by boat and then hand-carried 203 steps to the lantern room. During the day, the bright Florida sun beat mercilessly on the tower, endangering the first-order Fresnel lens. Curtains were drawn to shield the delicate lens from the sun's rays and to prevent the powerful prisms from starting fires. After the lighthouse converted to electricity in 1933, a third-order Fresnel replaced the original lens. Ponce de Leon Inlet Light was decommissioned in 1970, after a modern aero beacon was added to the coastguard station at New Smyrna. Thirteen years later, the beacon was restored, as condominium development obscured the light at New Smyrna. Deeded to the town of Ponce de Leon in 1972, the tower, keeper's cottages and outbuildings have been wonderfully restored as a maritime museum. Visitors can climb the tower steps and peer out from the 160-footobservation deck, although the still-active lantern room is off-limits. The most impressive sight, though, is the lens exhibit building, featuring the original lens from Ponce de Leon, as well as the beautiful lens from Cape Canaveral, one of the finest Fresnel in the world. Volunteers spent two tireless years polishing and restoring the magnificent six-ton lens to its former splendor.
On the far western tip of Brittany lies the windswept island of Ouessant,known for its spectacular flowers and migratory birds. With its towering cliffs rising 60 meters from the ocean surface, the island is well known and often feared by sailors. Dangerous rocks abound in the waters off the island, waiting silently for unsuspecting ships heading to and from the English Channel. Despite the risks, for centuries mariners have challenged these hazardous waterways, considered the busiest in the entire world. In 1699, Breton authorities ordered a lookout tower and light station tube established on top of Stiff Cliff, an imposing rock on the northeastern corner of Ouessant. One hundred and twenty-three years later, a French physicist, Augustin Fresnel, perfected a revolutionary graded lens system, resulting in immense improvements in light magnification. Ship pilots could now spot the Stiff beacon from miles away and steer clear of peril. Nevertheless, on a fateful day in 1896, a British vessel struck a deadly rock off the island causing terrible loss of life. Realizing that only a light established directly on the troublesome rock could prevent further catastrophe, a generous benefactor offered to finance a costly and difficult construction project. In 1903, Charles Eugene Patrol, a member of the French Geographic Society, bequeathed4,000 francs to build a lighthouse on the rock known as La Jument or "them are." In the agreement, it was stipulated that the work to commence inarch 1904 must be completed within seven years time. For any other location, this would have been more than adequate. Landing boats with materials and workers on La Jument, however, was incredibly difficult, and it required most of the seven years to complete the task. In the first year alone, strong currents and bad weather allowed only 17landings on the islet. On October 15, 1911, the first keeper lit the lamps at La Jument.Measuring six meters in diameter, the hexagonal tower has spent a good portion of the past nine decades partially submerged in water. Huge waves constantly bombard the lone sentinel, forcing keepers to spend much of their time indoors. Just two months after the beacon was first illuminated, a powerful storm rocked the station. The lanterns were extinguished and much of the mercury and paraffin leaked into the keeper's quarters. After a daring rescue by some local boat builders, the keepers were soon back at work, despite mercury poisoning and exhaustion. Sometime in the 1930s, the base of the lighthouse cracked. A collar of reinforced concrete was poured around the base of the tower, and three thick wire cables were attached from the light platform to the rock. Today, after years of merciless pounding by an unforgiving Atlantic, the lighthouse still stands strong. One of the last manned lighthouses in Europe, keepers still stand watch, making sure that the flashing red-light does not fail to warn ships away.
On the northern coast of the beautiful island of Kauai, flocks of frigate birds descend on Kilauea Point, much as their ancestors did thousands of years before. One hundred and eighty feet below the point, waves break against the rocks, while humpback whales, spinner dolphins and monk seals play in the distant surf. As commerce increased between the Hawaiian Islands and the Orient, the U.S. government recognized a growing need for a lighted navigational aid to guide mariners arriving from the west. In 1913, a light station was established near the cliffs at Kilauea Point, quite clearly the most strategic location on Kauai. Officials elected to separate the keepers quarters and the tower, building the dwellings some distance from the light. The tower and foundation were constructed of solid concrete, able to withstand the gale force storms that frequent these islands. Rising 216 feet above sea level, the beacon, illuminated by a second-order Fresnel lens, was visible for miles. Kilauea Point Light wasn't only the northernmost sentinel in Hawaii; it was also the first landfall spotted by mariners traveling at night. In 1930, a radio beacon was established at the station, working in tandem with the signal at Makeup Point. By the early 1970s, budgetary restraints and improved optic technology convinced the Coast Guard to automate the light at Kilauea Point, Hawaii's last manned station. In 1976, the light was replaced by anaero-marine beacon, erected on a simple pole a few feet from the historicsentinel.In 1985, the Coast Guard transferred ownership of the station to the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service. Since then the lighthouse has remained a popular feature of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area for endangered birds. All but the towers bottom floor is off limits to the public; however, a visitors center maintains some fascinating lighthouse exhibits. In 1992, Hawaii was struck by a devastating hurricane. Although the tower was left unscathed, the center was severely damaged, Three years later, the facilities were reopened to the public. Today, visitors can learn about lighthouses, walk amongst the indigenous wildflowers and, from almost any vantage point, enjoy one of the most spectacular ocean views in the world.
Built in 1899 on the southwest side of the extinct Diamond Head volcano, this senior Hawaiian lighthouse stands a sentinel to Honolulu Harbor, flashing a welcome to mariners from East or West. Built on a cliff overlooking the harbor, it can be seen as far away as 17 miles. In 1917, fissures throughout the original square masonry tower prompted the Lighthouse Board to build a replacement. They removed the lantern and watch room, and placed it temporarily on a wooden tower. They dismantled the old tower, and on the old foundation, built a new reinforced concrete tower with a new iron staircase. The original third-order Fresnel lens was placed in the new tower and relighted. The replacement tower stands55 feet high, with a focal plane 147 feet above sea level.
First lighted in 1873, Grosse Point was built to serve Lake Michigan with a second-order Fresnel lens. The light beam shines 121 feet above lake level and has a range of up to 21 miles. This light station also employed fog signals to warn of the dangers of the coast. The first were steam sirens, which were replaced by steam whistles in the 1890s. The signals no longer grace their original buildings, but we chose to include one in our sculpture, as a nostalgic reminder of the past. The original buildings were brick, which was later covered in concrete to protect against further deterioration. The light is now under the authority of the Evanston Historical Society and is open to the public on weekends. It is a working lighthouse, anode of the last to utilize its original lens. The fog buildings now house Maritime museum and Nature center.
Michigan City (East Pier Light)
The original Michigan City lighthouse began operation in 1837 and was later replaced by a two-story brick dwelling in 1858. In October 1904,the East Pier Light was added to increase navigation safety and dislocated at the end of its ãdog-legä pier in Michigan City, Indiana. Its fifth-order Fresnel lens shone 55 feet above lake level, and is now housed in the Lighthouse Museum at the Old Michigan Lighthouse. The museum is open year-round. The steel sheathed brick building features an octagonal tower from the center of its pyramid shaped roof. The lighthouse is closed to the public, but may be seen from the water's edge. The pier is undergoing repair, so visitors will again have access to the lighthouse grounds. The East Pier light is the only active lighthouse in Indiana.
Traveling through the windy roads of beautiful Wexford County in southern Ireland, it may seem to some as if time itself has stood still here. Tradition and history are very important here; buildings that have stood the test of time are left intact for future generations to enjoy. Many of the oldest structures date back to the fifth and sixth centuries. At the entrance to Waterford Harbour, a wonderful old lighthouse sits on the rocks near the edge of the water. While it is impossible to prove the exact date of its construction, the Tower of Hook is, without a doubt, the oldest active lighthouse in the British Isles. Shortly after a poor shepherd named Patrick converted much of Ireland to Christianity, a monastery and church were established at Dubhan, nearWaterford Harbor. Around 421 A.D., a monk lit fires on the hill overlooking the harbor, as a guide to ships traveling through Saint George's Channel. Seven centuries later, after the arrival of theAnglo-Normans in Ireland, the old monastery was rededicated as Saint Savior of Rendeuan. Around 1172, with the help of a wealthy benefactor, Raymond le Gros, the monks erected Hook Tower, one of the first navigational light towers ever constructed in Europe. There is little historical information about Hook Tower during its first130 years. These were bloody times, with constant feuding among the nobles. Raymond le Gros died a violent death and never saw the fruit of his great work. In 1307, the Tower was officially placed in the custody of the Sovereign of the Town New Ross. Although owned by the town, the Tower and its surrounding twelve acres, known as Church town, were left in the hands of the monks. For the next three centuries, Hook Tower and its beacon were faithfully maintained by the monks. In 1641, war broke out between Ireland and its English colonists, causing terrible bloodshed throughout the island. Even the monks, who had stayed in Church town for more than a thousand years, fled their monastery. Hook Tower remained dark until 1677, when a determined engineer, Robert Reading, repaired the tower and relit the beacon. It has remained in operation ever since. Thick fog has always been a nightmare for mariners off Hook Head. During particularly bad weather, guns were fired every ten minutes until the fog lifted. In 1972, the old station was ushered into the modern era. A state-of-the-art foghorn was installed, and paraffin vapor finally gateway to electricity. Hook Head was finally automated in 1996. Its keepers, no longer needed, were retired. To visit the lighthouse today, near the village of Fethard-On-Sea, is a rare privilege. Rising eighty feet off the rocks, with a thick forty-foot diameter, the old limestone tower must have been a remarkable engineering feat in its time. Over the centuries, improvements have been made as technology has developed, but the tower itself remains structurally intact after eight-hundred years.
When the United States took possession of Florida in 1821, the waterways around the peninsula were among the busiest on the continent. Unfortunately, the Spanish had neglected to build permanent navigational aids anywhere along the hazardous Florida coast. Congress quickly moved to remedy the situation. Florida's busiest port at this time was the beautiful city of St.Augustine. Founded by Spanish settlers in 1565, it is the oldest city in the United States. Determined to quickly establish a lighted aid at St.Augustine, officials at first attempted to place a lantern in an old watch tower. Built sometime in the 17th century, the tower was, unfortunately, structurally unsound. A local customs collector convinced Washington to provide funds for a solid brick light tower. Completed in1824, the new lighthouse was only useful as a harbor light. Rising 73feet above sea level, the tower was eventually provided with a fourth-order Fresnel lens, although still not much use to sailors on the open sea. Like most southern lighthouses, St. Augustine was darkened during the Civil War. By 1867, however, the sentinel was threatened by a more formidable foe. Steady erosion brought the sea to within forty-eight feet of the tower base. The Lighthouse Board soon found a secure location for a new light on Anastasia Island, half mile away. Although construction of the new tower began in earnest in 1872, funding soon ran out. While officials waited for more money from Washington, the sea was quickly encroaching upon the old lighthouse. Makeshift jetties, quickly erected by a determined work crew, saved the sentinel from disaster, if onlytemporarily.After funding finally resumed, construction at the new site moved rather swiftly. A conical brick tower, reminiscent of stations on the North Carolina Outer Banks, was erected on an octagonal foundation. Rising 165feet, the solid brick tower was pointed with the familiar barber stripes of Cape Hatters Light. Completing the new station was a handsome brick keepers duplex, one of the most splendid ever built at a Southern light station. On the 15th of October, 1874, keepers lit the new lamps, powered by a state-of-the-art first-order Fresnel lens. Projecting its beacon from a 161-foot focal plane, ships could see the new light from 19nautical miles. After automation in 1955, the grounds and keeper's house gradually fell into disrepair. In 1980, the Junior Service League of St. Augustine signed a 99-year lease with the county and federal governments, and began the painstaking process of restoring the historic site. Over a ten-year period, tremendous amounts of volunteer effort and money were poured into renovating the stately Victorian dwelling. Currently serving as one of the finest lighthouse museums in the south, the elegant keeper's quarters is an absolute must see for visitors to St. Augustine. In 1992, six years after a vandal almost destroyed the classic Fresnel lens, the State of Florida released funds for its costly and difficult repair. On May 22,1993, the beautiful lens was back in active service guiding mariners safely to their destinations.
On the west coast of Florida, across the water from the popular resort town of Fort Myers, a lovely island rises from the Gulf of Mexico. At one end of the island, an extraordinary sentinel shines its steady beacon to grateful sailors. Still active after a century of service, Sanibel Island Light enjoys a colorful and distinguished history.>From the early 1830s until the dawn of the twentieth century, cattle boats dominated the waters off western Florida. Punta Rassa, a deep water port near Sanibel Island, was one of the principal cattle shipping points to Key West and Cuba. As early as 1833, settlers asked the government for a lighted navigational aid in the area. More than 170 miles of shoreline between Key West to the south, and Egmont Key to the north, remained dark at night. Although the Lighthouse Board finally asked for a light to be established near Sanibel Island in 1856, another twenty-one years passerby before congress responded. Government surveyors visited the area in 1877 and settled on a location at the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, known as Point Ybel. Another six years of bureaucratic wrangling went by before Florida agreed to cede the property to the federal government. Finally, in 1883, construction began. Early into the project, the ship carrying iron work for the tower sankoff the island's eastern shore. Fortunately, the captain was able to off-load a good portion of the cargo before the ship settled to the bottom. A substantial amount, however, including the lantern, went down with the ship. Rather than resigning himself to further delays, the district engineer came up with a creative plan to salvage the lost cargo. Hiring a couple of tenders and an experienced diver, he was able to recover almost all of the missing parts, except for a couple of small brackets. These pieces were duplicated in New Orleans, and amazingly, work proceeded on schedule. On August 20 1884, the third-order beacon at Sanibel was displayed forthe first time. Rising 98 feet above sea level, the skeleton tower is one of the most unique on the Florida coast. On either side of the 102-foottower, detached frame keeper's cottages were built atop iron pilings with wide verandas and pyramidal roofs. The tower and cottages have survived numerous tropical storms, hurricanes, and high tides, and remain the oldest surviving structures on the island. Residents and stranded fishermen often sought refuge at the lighthouse during storms, knowing it was the one building on the island where they could be safe. In 1939, after the Coast Guard absorbed the Lighthouse Service, there was some question as to the future of Sanibel Light. Local residents and mariners lobbied hard to maintain the beloved station and the matter was settled. Sanibel Light has remained an important seacoast light ever since. Today, the light is electrified and automated, and the property is maintained by the Town of Sanibel.
With the dawn of the nineteenth century, shipping increased significantly along Georgia's coast, particularly at the port of Darien, sixty miles south of Savannah. In 1819, to help guide mariners safely into Darien, the federal government authorized a lighthouse to be established onSapelo Island, a barrier island north of Doboy Sound. Construction was completed a year later. Standing 80 feet tall, the conical brick tower was originally fitted with a simple lamp and reflector apparatus. In 1854, the light was replaced by a state-of-the-art fourth-order Fresnel lens. With the outbreak of the Civil War, the Confederate army removed the Fresnel lens and destroyed the reflector system. Following the war, the station was repaired and reactivated. In 1869, the tower was painted with its familiar red and white stripe design for the first time. On a fateful day in 1898, a hurricane tidal wave descended upon the tower with all of natures fury. The keeper's dwelling was completely demolished, and the base of the tower was undermined. In 1994, after nearly a century of abandonment, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources initiated a restoration effort. Construction commenced in November 1997, and was completed nine months later. Renovations included a new spiral pine staircase, electrical wiring and a fresh coat of white and red paint for the tower. Upon completion the beautiful sentinel looked much as it did one hundred years earlier. On September 6,1998, the beacon was relit before a crowd of enthusiastic lighthouselovers.Today, the beacon if fully operational, and acts as a private aid to navigation. Ferryboat excursions to Sapelo Island, one of Georgia's most scenic natural wonders, are conducted throughout the year by reservation. Tours of the lighthouse are held on select days.
As were many of our Southern lights, the original lighthouse at St.Simons was destroyed during the Civil War, in an effort to keep it from the Union forces. After the war, a new 100-foot tower was erected and put into service in 1872, employing a third-order Fresnel lens. St.. Simons is best known for an emotional duel fought there in 1880between the head keeper and his assistant. The details of the scandal will be discreetly dismissed here, as propriety demands, however, it is the sad fact that Keeper Fred Osborn lost his life in this fight. To make strange matters worse, 27 years after that duel was fought, the current keeper's wife was busily preparing dinner, when she heard her husband descending the tower stairs. She rushed to place his plate on the table, only to find, after awaiting his arrival for some time, that hewas still servicing the lens, up in the lantern room. Ever since that time, phantom footsteps have been hard in this lighthouse. Maybe you will hear them when visiting this beautiful site with fully restored tower innkeepers quarters.
Tybee Island Lighthouse
Among the first Southern lights, Tybee was originally lit in 1791,although that wooden tower had three short-lived predecessors, which were used as daymarks. All four wooden towers became victims to fire which took them one by one. In 1892, after the last of the wooden towers went down in flames, a brick tower was built, and fitted with Argand oil lamps. This fine light burned until it was snuffed out during a fierce Civil War battle fought on that sight. The Union Troops had taken Tybee Island, and when forced to leave the area, the lighthouse was destroyed in an explosion and resulting fire. Although intent on rebuilding this important light, the work crew was lost in a cholera epidemic, and all efforts to rebuild were set aside until after the war.Todayâs tower stands 145 feet above sea level, and boasts a first-order Fresnel lens. This light was put into service on October 1, 1867, and has burned steadily ever since. The tower, grounds, and museum are open to the public.
During the War of 1812, Fort Dearborn and most of the settlements near the mouth of the Chicago River were destroyed. After the war, pioneers, fishermen and entrepreneurs flocked to this beautiful lakeside destination. Attracted by its deep-water harbor and growing commercial activity, Lake Michigan mariners soon began to count Chicago among their most important ports of call.
In 1832, Chicago Harbor's first lighthouse was established. Over the next few decades, a number of sentinels were constructed here, both on the mainland and upon piers in the harbor. Commerce grew at an almost frenzied rate, bolstered no doubt by the completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848, and the birth of Chicago's railroad yard in the early 1850's.
During the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, crowds were treated to one of the Nineteenth Century's greatest technological marvels, the Fresnel lens. Originally intended for the Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego, this beautiful optic won first prize at an earlier exposition in Paris. After the Expo, officials decided to keep the third-order lens in Chicago. With the completion of a new lighthouse near the entrance of the Chicago River a few months later, the extraordinary lens found a permanent home. Built to withstand the bitter Lake Michigan winters, the new 48-foot lighthouse tower was plated in steel and lined with brick. Rather than building a separate keeper's quarters, engineers ingeniously designed a residence within the tower.
Originally, the lighthouse was established on the mainland, not far from where the first station stood in 1832. In 1919, at the close of the First World War, officials decided to move the tower to the middle of the harbor, where it would be more effective. Placed at the south end of the north breakwater on a concrete pier, the new location placed the focal plane of the beacon at 82 feet about mean lake level. Shortly after the move, a fog signal building and boathouse were attached to the tower.
Although automated in 1979, Chicago Harbor Light still relies on its century-old Fresnel lens to focus its powerful beacon. Today, this proud, yet unassuming sentinel provides guidance for ships from every corner of the world.