Talking about all kinds of subjects related to lighthouses: history, preservation, technology, navigation, the arts, and who knows what else – basically anything and everything that ties in with the subject of lighthouses in some way, with guest authors, preservationists, and more.
Light Hearted ep 136 -Carol & John O’Neil, Point Sur, CA
Point Sur juts out from a rugged portion of the California coast 25 miles south of Monterey Bay. The Lighthouse Board had considered a lighthouse at Point Sur as early as 1856, but the terrain was daunting.
Point Sur, photo by Jeremy D'Entremont.
Congress finally appropriated $50,000 in 1886 and another $50,000 in the following year. Stone for the buildings was quarried near the site, and a steep railway—708 feet long—was built to transport supplies to the top of a volcanic rock that rises to a height of 361 feet. At the top, after a roadbed was blasted out of the rock, another 480-foot railway was built to the lighthouse site. The station went into service on August 1, 1889.
Point Sur Lighthouse, photo by Jeremy D'Entremont.
The light was automated and the personnel were removed in 1972. In 1984, the Coast Guard turned over most of the station to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Point Sur State Historic Park was soon born.
Carol and John O'Neil
A nonprofit organization, Central Coast Lighthouse Keepers, was formed in 1993 to support the preservation of the light station. State Parks volunteers lead tours at Point Sur Light Station and operate the visitor center.
John and Carol O’Neil have been working as Point Sur State Historic Park volunteers for about 27 years, and John serves as chair of the Central Coast Lighthouse Keepers while Carol is the historian.
Carol wrote the book Point Sur, published by Arcadia Press in 2003.
Light Hearted ep 135 – Josh Liller, “The Florida Lighthouse Trail”
Josh Liller has been the Historian and Collections Manager for the Loxahatchee River Historical Society and the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum in Florida since 2014.
Jupiter Inlet Light Station has a museum on the site that features 5000 years of local history.
Josh also serves as historian for the Florida Lighthouse Association, and he gives presentations related to local history throughout the year.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, Florida (courtesy of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum)
He’s the co-author of the revised edition of the book Five Thousand Years on the Loxahatchee, and he was the editor of the second edition of the book The Florida Lighthouse Trail.
Josh is also a regular contributor to the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s journal, The Keeper’s Log, and his column Bright Ideas appears on this news blog.
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Light Hearted ep 134 – Lisa Nolan and Gerry Abbott, Block Island Southeast, RI
Block Island, south of the Rhode Island coast and east of the entrance to Long Island Sound, lies in the middle of major shipping lanes. A lighthouse was established at the island’s northernmost point in 1829, but it did nothing to aid vessels heading past the south side of the island. Congress appropriated $75,000 for a first-order light and fog signal in 1872, and a brick dwelling and attached 67-foot-tall brick tower were built. The light went into operation on February 1, 1875.
Early postcard of Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, Rhode Island. (U.S. Lighthouse Society)
The architecture of the lighthouse has been classified as the High Victorian Gothic style, with Italianate influences. The building is an architectural showcase that’s totally unlike any other lighthouse ever built in the New England region. It was also a technological showcase and was regarded as one of the best-equipped stations on the coast, with a huge first-order Fresnel lens from France.
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, photo by Jeremy D'Entremont.
Block Island Southeast Light Station was one of the last in the country to be automated and de-staffed. In December 1989, the navigational light was relocated to a steel skeleton tower. At that time, the lighthouse building was severely endangered by erosion of the bluff. Funding was secured for a move of the lighthouse to safer ground, and the move took place in 1993. The lighthouse was returned to service as an aid to navigation following the move.
The first-order Fresnel lensThe lens remains in use
Restoration has been ongoing, and most recently the interior of the building has been renovated and new exhibits have been installed. Lisa Nolan is the executive director of the Southeast Lighthouse Foundation, and Dr. Gerald Abbott is the president.
Lisa Nolan and Dr. Gerald Abbott
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Light Hearted ep 133 – Greg Stone, Lighthouse Inn, Cape Cod, MA; Ralph Krugler, Florida historian/author
Early photo of Bass River Lighthouse, Massachusetts (National Archives)
Congress appropriated $4,000 for a lighthouse near the mouth of the Bass River on Cape Cod in 1850. Oxen hauled building materials across the local marshes, and the Bass River Light went into service on April 30, 1855. The government deemed the lighthouse unnecessary after the advent of the Cape Cod Canal and a new automatic light was established on the Bass River west jetty at the entrance to the river. The light was extinguished in 1914 and the property was soon sold at auction.
The Lighthouse Inn, formerly Bass River Lighthouse, in West Dennis, Massachusetts. Photo by Jeremy D'Entremont.
The third and fourth generations of the Stone family involved with the operation of the Lighthouse Inn. Greg Stone is at the far right.
In 1938, the property was bought by State Senator Everett Stone and his wife, Gladys. The Stones began to have overnight guests, and their hospitality became so popular that they soon opened it to the public as the Lighthouse Inn. Bob and Mary Stone managed the Inn for many years.
In 1989 the Stone family had their lighthouse relighted as a seasonal aid to navigation, with a 300-millimeter optic providing a white light that flashes every six seconds.
Members of the Stone family remain involved with the inn’s operation today. Bob and Mary’s son Greg is president, and his wife, Patricia, is the general manager.
Ralph Krugler is the historian for the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society in Florida. He’s spent several years researching the history of the light station and he’s put together an extensive book on the subject.
Volume one is now available, and he also has a new children’s book called Let’s Visit the Lighthouse.
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Light Hearted ep 132 – Meghan Agresto, Currituck Beach, NC
The Outer Banks, a 200-mile-long chain of barrier islands, stretch from southeastern Virginia to most of the North Carolina coast. The islands were a haven for piracy in the 1600s, but later an important commercial fishing industry developed in the region. Currituck Beach Lighthouse—the northernmost of the light stations on the Outer Banks—began service on December 1, 1875, to fill a 40-mile gap on the coast between the lights at Cape Henry, Virginia, and Bodie Island, North Carolina. It was the last major brick lighthouse built on the Outer Banks. Until 1933 when it was electrified, the station had a principal keeper and two assistants serving at a time.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.
After automation in 1937, the site fell into disrepair until the nonprofit Outer Banks Conservationists renovated the station’s buildings and opened the site to the public in 1990. In 2003, the U.S. Department of the Interior awarded the organization the ownership of the lighthouse.
Meghan Agresto has been the resident site manager of the Currituck Beach Light Station for more than 16 years. Because the nearest schools are far away on the mainland, she started a school for local children and she continues to serve as board president of the Corolla Education Foundation.
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Light Hearted ep 131 – Randy Polumbo, Orient Point, NY; George Latimer, Tarrytown, NY
Orient Point Lighthouse is a cast-iron, so-called “sparkplug” type lighthouse in a location known as Plum Gut, between Plum Island and Orient Point at the northeastern tip of Long Island, New York. After its 1958 automation, the Coast Guard considered tearing it down and replacing it with a simple pipe tower, but a public outcry saved the structure and some restoration work was carried out.
Orient Point Lighthouse, New York. photo by Jeremy D'Entremont
In 2013 the property was auctioned under the guidelines of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. The winner of the auction was Randy Polumbo, an artist and the founder of the New York City eco-construction company, Plant. Randy’s work has been exhibited nationally and abroad. Over the past few years he has transformed the interior of the lighthouse, adding a kitchen and studio space. He’s installed a spinning, glowing sphere on the watch room gallery, and a colorful grotto inside, which he calls a “walk-in kaleidoscope." Randy plans to make the lighthouse available for artists, writers, and composers who want to be “lost at sea for a week or more.”
Click here to read more about Randy Palumbo and Orient Point Lighthouse
Tarrytown Lighthouse, New York. photo by Jeremy D'Entremont
Tarrytown Lighthouse went into service on October 1, 1883, about 20 miles north of New York City on the east shore of the Hudson River. It’s a cast-iron caisson structure, with four stories inside and a light 56 feet above mean high water. The Tappan Zee Bridge, spanning the Hudson River at its widest point, was completed in 1955. The bridge, with powerful lights and a foghorn on its center span, rendered the lighthouse virtually obsolete. After years of abandonment, the lighthouse was acquired by Westchester County. It has again fallen into disrepair in recent years, but Westchester County recently announced a major restoration project. Westchester is led by County Executive George Latimer, who took office in January 2018 as the ninth County Executive.
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