Friday, August 12, 2011

Booty: Lighthouses in Peril

My friend CTHawkman, one of those mysterious guys who may actually be a superhero (follow him here on Twitter), sent me this article from the online version of NBC’s Today Show. The print version reads rather like a transcript from the show but that does not dilute the interest of the subject: U.S. lighthouses being rescued by U.S. citizens.

The Coast Guard, who is generally tasked with the upkeep and running of lighthouses on all U.S. coasts and waterways has run out of resources to do just that. Due to the almost universal use of GPS by all but the smallest craft, the need for lighthouses has dwindled. This has put many of these beautiful structures out of work, and they are essentially rotting away along with a huge piece of America’s maritime history.

When municipalities, states and charitable organizations failed to step in and help out, the Coast Guard took a very American approach to the problem. They began putting the lighthouses up for auction to U.S. citizens, with the caveat that the structures be restored to working order, historical detail in tact. Not surprisingly to my mind – although NBC’s Bob Dotson seems almost shocked – average Americans have stepped up to the task. The article focuses on two families who have decided to take the plunge and rearrange their lives to restore and preserve two east coast lighthouses.

I won’t rehash the details here as you all can read them at your leisure. One quote from the article did strike me particularly, though. Pete Jurewicz's father, who is helping his son’s family restore Thimble Shoals lighthouse in Chesapeake Bay, brought the big picture of preservation into perspective when he said:

I was a lifelong Navy man. When the sailors aboard ship saw the Thimble Shoals beacon it meant: “Next stop, family!”

And that is exactly what these lighthouses have meant to the men and women who braved the ocean for centuries. From pirates to patriots, from whalers to privateers and for immigrants hoping to find the American dream, our lighthouses meant home. If that isn’t worth preserving, maybe nothing really is.

If you’re curious, The American Lighthouse Foundation has a plethora of information about their subject. They also occasionally post information on lighthouses up for auction. Should any of the Brethren decide to bid, let me know; I’d love to keep track of your accomplishment here at Triple P. Oh, and if you're looking for an enjoyable read of a Friday afternoon, click over to Hawkman’s Blog; you might not always agree with him but he will make you think.

Header: Thimble Shoals lighthouse


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! A big thankee to you and to Mr. Hawkman for bringing this to all of our attention. These are definitely an important part of our history and need to be preserved. Well done, indeed.

I will definitely be checking out the Hawkman's Blog when I have a little more time, too.

Pauline said...

What I'm most enthusiastic about is that, as usual, it's the average American who steps in and does the right thing.

Undine said...

I had no idea this was going on! If I ever have the opportunity--not to mention the money--I'd love to do this myself. I've always had a weird obsession with lighthouses.

Where's a winning lottery ticket when you really need one?

Pauline said...

I'm totally with you! If I could, I'd be the proud owner of a (hopefully west or Gulf coast) lighthouse in a heartbeat. Maybe we could go in together? I'm sure my Saint Bernard would be a gentleman to your kitties.

Charles L. Wallace said...

Ah, I THOUGHT that I recognised the light in the header photo: it's none other than Thimble Shoals Light, which I pass by on a regular basis.... can't really discern it in this photo, but there is not one, but TWO barbecues on the catwalk. What an excellent location!! Except, I am always working, so no booze (and no goofing off, either! :-) Good, good stuff.

Pauline said...

It seems like it would be a lot of work to restore one of these, but well worth it to live there!