Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Over-photographed and/or painted light stations

Maine has the Portland head, Georgia has Tybee Island. Guess it does help to be able to drive right up to the thing -- no inconvenient boat trips involved so it's easy to sit and paint regardlessof what the weather does.

What surprised me was how short it looks is for an east coast light that's not perched on the edge of humongous bluff. Maybe it's the paint job with the broad horizontal stripes because the tower is 145 feet tall. The lens is a first order Fresnel installed in 1867 with a focal plane of 144 feet above sea level.

The massive poured concrete structure behind the book on a stick is part of a series of World War II fortifications/artillery batteries meant to protect the mouth of the Savannah River. They're big, they're ugly, one section that's apparently gone through some interesting rehab for adaptive re-use now houses a local Shriners hall. The batteries kind of kill the ocean view the lighthouse keeper's family would once have enjoyed from their front porch.


  1. In the night when they are needed it doesn't matter what they are painted because you only saw the light anyway. Today they are mostly tourist attractions so they like to make them look good in artists eyes.

    Are they still important? That depends, if all this technology fails for some reason they damn sure will be.

    Just like ham radio operators will be important. They know that and still be here to communicate with the rest of the world when nothing else is working.

    Ever think about that?

  2. Every tower functions as a day marker, too -- and the paint jobs distinguish them.

    I'm always amused by the numerous paintings and photographs that are done of the lightstations that are super easy to get to, like this one that falls within a couple blocks of U.S. 80, but artists always portray as being located in the middle of nowhere. Just like they always talk about "the lonely life of the lighthouse keeper" when he'd have his wife, kids, several assistant keepers, and their families living there, too.

  3. It would be interesting to do a survey of light stations that are co-located with coastal fortifications. It's a natural combination, and I've been to more than a few such sites, on east and west coasts.

    However, some years back I was amused to get an inquiry from a couple of kitchen-table authors who were "writing a book on Wisconsin lighthouses" who wanted to know whether it was true that there were gun emplacements on Raspberry Island. I was even more nonplussed when they actually published, though.


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