Saturday, May 3, 2008
LIGHTHOUSES I HAVE KNOWN AND LOVED
This could turn into a very long post. I think I'm indulging myself, recounting most of the light houses I have visited.
In 1956 I was living in Rockville Centre, NY. When Ralph and I started dating, I was rooming with a family and he was temporarily staying with his sister and her family, so we were always looking for places to spend a day together. One day we decided to drive all the way out to the end of Long Island, to Montauk Point. It was the first time I had ever seen a lighthouse close up. At that time Montauk Point Lighthouse was sadly neglected, standing amid tall weeds and surrounded by a chain link fence. Not much to see, but something about it excited me. The sea and the shore are always beautiful - and the fact that it was a bright autumn day, and we were in love, might have had something to do with it. Today, Montauk Light has been fully restored and is surrounded by a state park. I have been back several times with children and grandchildren.
While I lived in New York, I did visit other lighthouses. Fire Island is a wonderful one. I was first there with a Girl Scout troop, with Rita.
I've been to Jeffery's Point, the " Little Red Lighthouse Under the Great Gray Bridge" of children's literature fame that started out in New Jersey, and was moved to the Hudson River, only to be straddled by the George Washington Bridge. That's a fun place to go, situated where it is in Spanish Harlem.
I've visited the Statue of Liberty, which is also a lighthouse.
And my oldest daughter, Ruth, and I spent some time driving around the north shore of Long Island, searching for lesser known lighthouses. We found a couple.
I've also visited a few in California with Kitty and her family: Pigeon Point was very interesting to explore.
I've talked about Point Sur Light Station in this blog before.
Point Pinos is one of the delightful places to visit in Pacific Grove.
Santa Cruz is in a lovely spot on the coast.
I've seen a few in the San Francisco Bay area. Beautiful to look at. I have never been inside one there.
I have lived in New Jersey for thirty years, and have managed to visit most of this state's lighthouses. Missed a few, like Tinicum, Finn's Point and Ambrose Light Tower. But one of the best things I've done is take a couple of lighthouse cruises on the Delaware Bay. It's a great way to spend some time on a summer day, if you're in Cape May. There are quite a few lighthouses out in the water. But before you get far offshore, you can see East Point Lighthouse, in Heislerville, at the mouth of the Maurice River. That one can also be reached by land of course. A particularly nice place to visit in early October, duriing the butterfly migration.
Out in the water you can see Ship John Shoal,
Fourteen Foot Bank,
Elbow at Crossledge,
and even the remains of a light now taken over by gulls, which I think is called Twelve Foot Bank. Can't swear to that. I believe there are others as well. The captain keeps up a monologue, naming the lights and giving you a bit of history. He brings the boat around to let you take pictures. The cruise usually ends with a visit to Cape May Light, where the bay and the Atlantic meet. Gives you a whole new perspective when you see it from the water, especially nice if the sun is setting at the time.
Cape May Light is also, of course, fully accessible by land, situated in a state park which has a small museum and visitors' center, a hawk watch platform, and nature trails. Click picture to see all the birds in this one. My house is located halfway between Cape May Light and Hereford Inlet Light.
Hereford is really a very delightful place in summer, surrounded by gardens. The house itself is a museum, filled with artifacts and photographs.
Continuing up the coast, Absecon is next. I don't have a decent photo of that one. It is no longer on the water, but in the midst of a residential neighborhood, and within sight of the Atlantic City casinos. It has been restored in recent years.
Next is one of my favorites - Barnegat Light. A real beauty. I made it halfway up the steps once. There are also a few really interesting places nearby, including a museum.
Continuing north, Sea Girt is a brick house, sitting at the end of the town's boardwalk. A rather attractive building. It was closed to the public when I was able to make my way up there, so I can't tell you about what is inside.
Continuing up the coast, to the Highlands, we find two lights. Sandy Hook is the oldest and seems to be the most famous of New Jersey's lights. Laura tells us about Sandy Hook and its environs in her blog, Somewhere in New Jersey. I've made only one visit there, and again, it was closed at the time. But if you've made the trip that far north, you are within a short ride to another.
The second is my favorite of all in this state: Twin Lights of the Navesink. I find this one really exciting. The Twin Lights sit high on a cliff, looking like a medieval castle. Unless you are on the water or in the air, or hanging off the side of the cliff, you probably won't be able to photograph the entire building except at a great distance, seeing it on the horizon. But there are opportunities for all sorts of interesting shots of its towers and other architectural components. Inside are fascinating objects and pictures. Outside is a lovely little park, complete with picnic tables. And when you stand near the cliff's edge, the twin lights are at your back, off to the right you see Sandy Hook, and to your left, over the water, on a clear day, you can see three more lights which are in New York Harbor.
For the lighthouse enthusiast, New Jersey has a lot to offer.