Happy National Lighthouse Day! To celebrate, I’d like to share an exhibit I put together for the Park View Gallery at
Glen Echo Park, Maryland. If you live in the D.C. metro area, the show will be up until August 26, 2017.
The contemporary images are mine; most of the historic images are from the National Archives.
Portland Head, Maine, 2013. © Candace Clifford
Although Massachusetts Colony allocated funds for its construction in 1787, Portland Head was completed by the Federal government in 1791. (Maine became a state in 1820.) National Archives image shows tower ca. 1859 before it was raised in 1864.
Montauk Point, New York, 2012. © Candace Clifford
Montauk Point, New York, 2012.Montauk Point Lighthouse was authorized for the eastern end of New York’s Long Island by the second U.S. Congress in 1792 with the support of President George Washington. Designed and built by John McComb, Jr., the station was completed in 1796. The station was transferred to the Montauk Historical Society in 1996 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. Historic image from National Archives
Drum Point, Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons, Maryland, 2009. © Candace Clifford
Established at the mouth of the Patuxent River, Maryland, in 1883, Drum Point Lighthouse was one of many screwpile-type lighthouses that assisted navigation on the Chesapeake Bay. Decommissioned in 1962, the lighthouse was moved to nearby Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons, Maryland, in 1975. Today it is open to the public as one of the Museum’s exhibits. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office
The first lighthouse on Bodie Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina was established in 1847. The second tower was destroyed in the Civil War. The current 164-foot tower was completed in 1871. The tower, located in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the National Park Service in 2000. A nomination for listing on the National Register Historic Places was prepared in 2001 using documentation in the National Archives. The lighthouse subsequently underwent a multi-million dollar restoration.
Cape Hatteras Light Station, also on the Outer Banks, was originally established in 1803. The original tower was deemed inadequate for marking the dangerous Diamond Shoals offshore, so it was raised to 150 feet and a superior Fresnel lens installed in 1859. The present tower, the tallest in the U.S. at 208 feet, was completed in 1870. Transferred to the National Park Service in 1937, storms and erosion eventually threatened the tower’s foundation until it was moved a half mile inland in 1999. NPS photos by Candace Clifford
Point Betsie, Michigan, 2004. © Candace Clifford
Michigan’s Point Betsie Lighthouse was established on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in 1858. The station was automated in 1983 but Coast Guard personnel continued to live there until 1996. The 1882 keeper letter was found in the National Archives.
In 2004 the station was transferred to Benzie County which leased the property to The Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse. © Candace Clifford
Established in 1848, the first tower at Cape Canaveral on Florida’s northern Atlantic coast was a 65-foot brick tower. It was replaced with a much taller cast-iron-plate tower in 1868. After the sea threatened this tower, it was disassembled and moved in 1893. Located on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, the lighthouse is accessible only through scheduled tours. © Candace Clifford 2007
Richard Johnson, former president of the Egmont Key Alliance in Florida, greets visitors in his lighthouse keeper’s uniform. The Alliance was formed in 1991 to preserve and protect Egmont Key and its resources, both natural and man-made. The island at the entrance to Tampa Bay is accessible only by boat. © Candace Clifford 2017
Four towers have marked Cape San Blas on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The first tower was completed in 1848 using material from the discontinued St. Joseph Bay tower. It collapsed in 1851. A hurricane destroyed the second tower and the third tower succumbed to erosion. The 1884 tower was moved in 1918 when threatened by the eroding shoreline and again in 2014 to nearby Port St. Joe where it was opened to the public. © Candace Clifford 2015
Boca Grande Light Station was established on Gasparilla Island on the Gulf Coast of Florida in 1890. The lighthouse and surrounding land were transferred to the State of Florida in 1988 to become the Gasparilla Island State Park. The Barrier Island Park Society opened the station as a museum about a decade later. © Candace Clifford 2016
The original St. Marks Lighthouse dates to 1830 when Florida was still a territory. The current tower was completed in 1842. Its four-foot-thick walls protected the keepers during several hurricanes. Today the station is part of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. © Candace Clifford 2015
Heceta Head Light Station, Oregon, was lit with a first-order Fresnel lens in 1894. The lens, manufactured by the Chance Brothers, in Birmingham, England, has 640 two-inch prisms, arranged in eight panels with bullseyes in the center. The lens was disassembled, dismantled, restored, and reassembled in the tower in 2001. It continues as an active aid to navigation. NPS photos by Candace Clifford
1893 letter from the National Archives
Point No Point Lighthouse, completed in 1879, marks a shoal at the north entrance to Puget Sound in Washington. Located in a county park, the duplex keepers’ dwelling serves as a vacation rental on the side closest to the tower and as offices for the U.S. Lighthouse Society on the other. 2016 photo © Candace Clifford
Notice to Mariners from National Archives
Established in 1870, both a light and fog signal on Point Reyes, California, marked this headland hazard for shipping in and out of San Francisco. 2017 image © Candace Clifford
2017 image © Candace Clifford
Courtesy National Archives
The original lens, manufactured by Chance Brothers, England, is still in the lantern. Although it has been replaced by a modern optic maintained by the Coast Guard outside the tower, the old lens is kept in operating condition by specially-trained National Park Service volunteers in Point Reyes National Seashore. 2017 image © Candace Clifford
On an island in San Franicsco Bay, California, Alcatraz was the first light station established on West Coast. Established in 1854, it was rebuilt in 1909. The Keepers’ dwellings, seen in the architectural plan burned in a 1971 fire. © Candace Clifford, 2017
Plan showing tower with keepers’ dwellings courtesy National Archives
Also known as “Angels Gate,” this unique tower was constructed soon after the San Pedro Breakwater was completed in California. The lantern once held a fourth-order bivalve lens, now on display at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. © Candace Clifford, 2015
Lantern plan courtesy National Archives
Submitted by Candace Clifford,
U.S. Lighthouse Society Historian, August 7, 2017