Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lighthouse Fever - Day One

I've always loved lighthouses; of course, you're probably thinking "who doesn't love them"? Well, I don't know who doesn't love them - this probably falls into Rumsfeld's 'not knowable' category. What is knowable is that lighthouses are loved throughout the world and many countries have lighthouse societies, publications, tours, etc. Lighthouses adorn everything from jewelry to clothing to home furnishings. I've been thinking about lighthouses after having a close encounter with one over the holidays and seeing the sad news about the recent vandalism of the Cape Meares Lighthouse in Oregon.

Is there a lighthouse in your neighborhood? I grew up in northeastern North Carolina and so had several great lighthouses within a two hour drive - the most famous being Cape Hatteras which was actually moved a few years ago. My mom was able to visit during the move and watch this amazing process.

The Cape Hatteras Light weighs 4.8 tons and the move was an engineering marvel - the lighthouse was actually raised and then rolled to the new location. According to How Stuff Works, it's the third largest building ever moved. But, Cape Hatteras wasn't the lighthouse I stumbled during Christmas. Rather, it was this lesser-known light shown below. Can you spot the problem with it?

Maybe this will help - it's a picture of the lighthouse when it was active (circa 1900).

As you can see, this design is more house and less light than most famous lighthouses. This gives us a clue to its original purpose - obviously it wasn't intended to warn large ships at far distances. Rather it helped mariners navigate the Albemarle Sound around Plymouth, NC. It's one of the last surviving inland waterway lighthouses in the state. It's known as the Roanoke River Light and the photo below reveals the problem today - it's not only in disrepair, it's in search of new digs.

After being decommissioned in the 1940s, it was barged inland and converted into housing in the mid '50s. When the owner/occupant died it was abandoned and subsequently suffered storm damage. Many feared it would be lost altogether, but it was rescued and in 2007 moved to its current location in the colonial town of Edenton where it awaits a facelift. Hopefully in the near future you can visit it when it's all spic and span and perched on new pilings!

If you're in the region in the meantime, stop by the Roanoke River Lighthouse & Maritime Museum to visit this lovely replica of an earlier Roanoke Light. Tomorrow we'll look at lighthouse vacations - now is the perfect time to book for summer!!

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures and great story. The tragedy at the Cape Meares lighthouse has weighed heavily on us. Why would anyone want to do this? The Roanaoke River Light serves as an antidote. What a wonderful and unusual building.


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