Thursday, July 3, 2014

Lighthouses of the Low Country 7/2/14

     For those of you that love lighthouses, today is a treat.  Here are all of of those that remain standing in the Low-Country.  

      First up is the Georgetown lighthouse.  Built to 72 feet in 1812, it was rebuilt and raised to a height of 87 feet in 1867.  This is the oldest continuously operated lighthouse in the United States.  It lies on a small island about 7 miles from town across Winyah Bay, and marks a small opening between North and South Islands that ships must navigate.  The original lens for this light has just been returned to Georgetown and will be installed at a local museum on 7/18/2014.  More on this lighthouse and the efforts of Georgetown locals over the next two days.


     Next up are the two lighthouses on Cape Romain, which were raised in order to warn ships away from the dangerous shoals that lie off this point.  The smaller lighthouse on the right was built in 1827 to a height of 87.5 feet.  It was neither high nor bright enough to do its job effectively.  

     The second lighthouse was built in 1857 with a height of 161 feet.  Access to this lighthouse requires a boat ride of about six miles.  There is a ferry that runs out to it about once every six months operated by Coastal Expeditions.

     Of all the lighthouses in this article, these are the ones in greatest need of help.  Tommy Graham, a McClellanville SC native is leading the charge to try to keep them standing in the hopes that at some point in the future some group will help restore them.

     Sullivan's Island lighthouse was completed in 1963, with a focal height of 163 feet.  This is the only one of these lighthouse that is not made of masonry - it has a steel structure and an aluminum skin.  This lighthouse was built to help guide mariners into Charleston Harbor after the lighthouse on the other end of the harbor became defunct.  This lighthouse is easily accessed by land but is not open for tours.

     This is the only lighthouse in the USA with an elevator, and was the last lighthouse built by the US Government.

     On the other side of Charleston Harbor lies the Morris Island Lighthouse.  This was built in 1876, although the site had previous lights operating since 1767.  This lighthouse now lies in open water at high tide; on a sandbar at low tide.  Numerous donations from private parties have covered the expense of preserving this structure.  It is not open to the public.  The lighthouse keeper's house was demolished in 1939, and a portion of the old lens is on display at Hunting Island Lighthouse.  

     Next up is Hunting Island Lighthouse, built in 1875 with a focal point of 132 feet.  This lighthouse replaced an earlier lighthouse that was destroyed in the civil war, and had to be moved further from the shore in 1889 due to erosion.  This tower is easily accessible by land and is open to the public for tours.

     Hilton Head's lighthouse, with a focal point of 70 feet, was built with private funds in 1970 by Charles Fraser.  Located inside a gated community, it is open for tours with an admission fee paid to Sea Pines Plantation.

     Daufuskie Island Lighthouse was built in 1872 with a focal point of 47 feet.  This is on land now owned by a private gated community - Haig Point.  Neither the tower or the house are open to the public, but the community has spent a lot of money to keep it preserved.  

     Cockspur Island Lighthouse was built in 1849, but had to be rebuilt in 1855 after it was destroyed by a hurricane.  With a focal plane of 25 feet it is by far the shortest of the towers.  It sits at the mouth of the Savannah River and can be approached to within about 150 yards by walking a nature trail at Fort Pulaski.

    Tybee Island Lighthouse was built in 1773 and almost completely rebuilt in 1867 at a height of 144 feet, replacing structures that dated back to the 1730's.  These lighthouses pointed the way to the opening of the Savannah River.

    This lighthouse, one of only 7 lighthouses in the USA that survive from the Revolutionary War era, is easily accessible and open to the public.

     There were other lighthouses, such as the one at Parris Island where all that remains is a small pile of rubble.  I hope you enjoyed this collection, and also hope that I can keep up the string of getting photos of every lighthouse as I circle the United States.

Have a great Thursday !!

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