Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Briefly, it was constructed in 1913 and has greeted visitors to Los Angeles ever since. Being at the end of a 1.5 mile breakwater (chained off to the public), Angel's Gate has seen its share of weather and erosion, earthquakes and even collisions. Here are some glimpses of its stunning and beautiful life:
There are twelve steel columns supporting the cylindrical top. There are no other lighthouses like it, although I believe at one time a Texas lighthouse existed, built from a similar plan.
Angel's Gate cost $36,000.00 to build.
While this is a stunning photo, the signs of wear and rust are evident in this shot, supposedly taken during one of L.A. fire seasons. I am seeking the photographer of this great shot.
Here is our beautiful beacon after completion of a recent $1.8 million refurbishment.
Did you know that most, if not all, of our coastal lighthouses were commandeered by the military during World War II? Darkened, and some painted camouflage.
Inquiring minds wonder: What would it have been like to be inside Angel's Gate Lighthouse during a cold February, 1946 night, its light extinguished, no sound but the waves splashing against the rocks below... when suddenly the hum of Japanese fighter jets approached from the west...
If it sounds like the great beginning of a mystery novel, you are in luck: ANGEL'S GATE by Anne Carter is coming soon from Beacon Street Books!
Friday, July 8, 2011
Thank you for allowing me to be the guest blogger on Legendary Lighthouses. This time I will talk about a couple of the lighthouses on Lake Michigan.
Did you know that the state of Michigan has more lighthouses dotting the shores than any other state in the USA? If I were to guess I would have said California, or Florida or maybe even Maine. Before I had visited the Great Lakes I thought of American lighthouses as being either on the east or west coast.
Several years ago my husband and I took a driving vacation up the the shores of Lake Michigan and I was delighted to see the wide variety of lighthouses. We visited 7 lighthouses on that trip and each of them had their own distinct features. Here are two of my favorites.
My favorite lighthouse was the one in Holland, Michigan. It is nicknamed Big Red and is a three story bright red building that is very unique in appearance. Although we could not get right up to Big Red, I was able to photograph it from across the harbor. I got some great shots from the sand dunes and was able to capture the lighthouse framed by colorful fall leaves.
The three-story Holland Harbor light is on Black Lake and was built in 1907. It is covered with red steel to protect it from the heavy pounding it gets during rough weather. The current light tower was added to the top of one gable in 1936. Big Red sits on a pier that runs along the south bank of the channel connecting Lake Macatawa to Lake Michigan.
The lighthouse in South Haven is on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth to the Black River. The current 35 foot tower has been operating in South haven since 1903, when it replaced a wooden frame tower that was built in 1872.
The day we visited South Haven was a clear, but chilly fall day. As you can see in the photo the waves were beating up against the pier. It was a cold walk down the long pier to see the lighthouse up close, I can imagine how the lighthouse keepers must have felt when they would come to service the lighthouse in the winter months.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
It's Day Two of my 2010 Blog Tour! I'm really mixing it up this year, in an effort to reach all sorts of readers and like-minded people. Here is an updated article about how I discovered the setting for my latest book.
I don’t remember the first time I saw or heard about St. George Reef Lighthouse. I was likely looking at Battery Point Lighthouse (in photo at left) on-line, since we have a funny family memory of staying at the Curly Redwood Lodge in Crescent City many years ago. It was a foggy night, and, well, the foghorn at Battery Point was very efficient. Not only at warning the ships at sea, but at keeping us awake all night long. To this day, my husband mimics the horn with a deep, throaty hum whenever I talk about lighthouses. Which is often.
So Battery Point leads us to St. George Reef. Off shore, six miles off the nearest point of land, the lighthouse sits perched on a wave-washed rock it shares with a large family of seals. Like the similar French lighthouse “Phare de la Jument”, St. George has seen some magnificent waves it its day as well. As I looked at photo after photo, and read about the tumultuous history of this extraordinary beacon, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to be out there, all alone, abandoned in that water-locked tower.
Thus began the imagery for my romantic mystery, CAPE SEDUCTION, set for publication this winter. Once research began, I ran across a wonderful resource, SENTINEL OF THE SEAS by Dennis M. Powers, which is the history of St. George Reef Lighthouse. Powers did extensive digging, came up with great stories and photos retelling the life of this mysterious light station.
As my novel required lots of details about the interior workings and accommodations, I contacted Mr. Powers for more information. He kindly referred me to one of the last U.S. Coast Guardsmen to man the lighthouse. John “Gibby” Gibbons was delighted to hear from me, and spent a long time on the telephone describing the engine room, the galley and sleeping quarters. He answered all my questions, then asked for my address. He later sent me this wonderful photo of SGRL taken from a helicopter in the 1950’s, and several snapshots from his years in residence. I am incredibly grateful to this generous man.
St. George Reef Lighthouse has some interesting stats. It’s largely considered the most expensive American lighthouse ever built—$700,000.00—and the most dangerous as well. This direct quote from Powers' SENTINAL says it all: “St. George Reef was the peak of a submerged volcanic mountain six miles off the northern extreme coast of California. Rough weather with howling winds and crushing waves could create mists that obliterated the peaks with great risks for mariners. In 1792 the British explorer George Vancouver had dubbed the reef-strewn area “Dragon Rocks,” and over time the reef became known as St. George Reef, in the hopes “that the dragon might one day be slain.” This is a must-have book for lighthouse enthusiasts.
My novel takes place partly in 1948. I had to know if it would be plausible for a person, a woman in particular, to live alone in a place such as St. George Reef Lighthouse back then. What challenges would she face? Was there electricity? Telephone? Radio? For these answers I turned to former keeper Gibbons, who explained that the station generated its own electricity, both for the living quarters and the light beacon. Large diesel fuel tanks, located outside on the catch deck, were refilled every six months. These tanks were used to fill smaller tanks located in the engine room, which fueled massive generators, keeping the batteries charged. All part of an intricate system for keeping the lights going. Steam engines powered the foghorns.
Gibby mentioned that a bunch of the guys pooled their money for a small television, only to discover that there was no reception at sea. He also described for me the treacherous procedure for gaining access to the rock; small launches would arrive and endeavor to position themselves at the appropriate spot—amid rollicking waves—to be plucked from the sea by the lighthouse’s 50 foot boom. As the waves crested, lifting the boat to its highest level, the mariners had to quickly snag the boom hook with a huge O ring. They typically had 20 to 45 seconds. If they missed, they were at risk of being dashed against the rocks. At best, it took countless, dangerous minutes to reposition for the next wave. Once connected, the boom would swing the launch to a concrete boat deck. The process was repeated in reverse to return the boat to the waters which was even more dangerous. In 1951, a rogue wave slammed into the launch just as it was reaching the water. Three men died.
The keepers at SGRL were clearly at the mercy of the weather. Savage storms and typhoon force winds battered the rock, sometimes for weeks on end. Despite a schedule that provided for ten-day stints at the lighthouse, the men couldn’t count on getting off the rock when high waves blew in and swept against the tower. During the winter of 1955, Coast Guardsmen were shut in for four weeks. Christmas dinner consisted of a can of Spam and crackers!
In the end, I decided that my heroine could, indeed, survive at St. George, but it would be harrowing and dangerous. Just the kind of drama that makes a mystery story a page-turner!
Be sure to leave a comment below and get entered into my celebration contest drawing! You could win a $25 gift card from Barnes & Noble, or 5 ebooks + flash drive from Echelon Press!
Tomorrow's blog stop: Wednesday, Sept 1: Enjoying the Waves with Susan Griscom!
Pam Ripling, who also writes as Anne Carter, is a self-proclaimed Lighthouse Nut and the author of Beacon Street Mysteries CAPE SEDUCTION and POINT SURRENDER, in paperback or for your Kindle; also for your nook, iPhone, Sony eReader and other formats at Omnilit. Visit Pam/Anne at Beacon Street Books.
Friday, August 20, 2010
This is a bit of the history that sparked the idea for Nikki Leigh’s Lilah and the Locket – an Outer Banks mystery which includes plenty of Outer Banks history and flavor.
Travel back to the 1950’s on the coast of North Carolina with my guest blogger, author Nikki Leigh!
The Civilian Conservation Corps work mentioned in this story actually took place. In the 1950's,
this work was completed and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore opened to the public. Multitudes of people vacation along the Outer Banks of North Carolina each year.
The characteristics the Outer Banks make it difficult to protect the area from nature. They are basically a chain of sand bars along the east coast of North Carolina. The Atlantic Ocean lies on the east and Pamlico Sound lies to the west. At times the ocean water washes into the sound and back to the ocean. This makes the area very vulnerable to bad weather and hurricanes.
The beating surf and fierce undertow cause serious erosion which threatens the coastline. Local inlets shift from south to north with each passing season. Over the years, especially fierce hurricanes have closed some existing inlets while they create new inlets. Hatteras Inlet and Oregon Inlet are the most notable examples.
People and events from real life and my imagination inhabit this story. It offers a glimpse into the rugged coastal experience people enjoy when they visit the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It also illustrates the changes in this stretch of coastline in the last fifty years.
Anyone who has read much non_fiction or history about the Outer Banks of North Carolina should be familiar with David Stick. He has written numerous books about the region. These books tell us why this stretch of the eastern seaboard is called the graveyard of the Atlantic. The reader learns about various events and people over several hundred years along with his personal experiences living in this picturesque area.
He is best known as an Outer Banks historian. Many documentary specials about the area contain at least one interview with David Stick. In addition to being a renowned historian, he was also the first licensed real estate broker on the Outer Banks. His company, Southern Shores Realty, was instrumental in developing the town of Southern Shores between 1956 and 1970. This is the same town where he served as mayor.
But, was David Stick the only person in his family to assist in the development of the Outer Banks? If we research back a little further we learn about his father. David Stick followed in the footsteps of his father Frank Stick. In 1929, Frank moved to the Outer Banks. He was an artist and became an entrepreneur on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
In the 1930's Frank Stick knew Dare County was on the brink of bankruptcy. He wasn't the kind of man to stand back and watch the area go belly up. Love for the area prompted his desire to discover a way to regenerate the Outer Banks in addition to finding a way to protect and preserve the natural beauty of the area. Was there a way to bring in tourism revenue while still being able to preserve the things he loved about the area?
One of the biggest problems on the Outer Banks was transportation and the difficulty in getting from one area to another. To remedy this immediate problem, better roads and more bridges were needed. In truth, any paved roads would be a big improvement. Travelers were met by sandy paths which led in all directions and many went in circles. Many areas along the lower Outer Banks were isolated from the upper Outer Banks and the mainland. Bridges were a more effective way to connect the barrier islands which make up the Outer Banks. Sporadic and slow ferry service could only transport a limited number of people per day.
The barrier islands presented various difficulties. These flat and low-lying sandy islands had no protection from the rough surf that eroded the sand and would wash out any new roads.
Frank Stick worked with Washington Baum and they made some progress. Mr. Baum chaired the Dare County Commission and could help the project. In 1928 a toll bridge linked Manteo and Nags Head. This allowed people to travel from the mainland to the beach. Soon, a toll bridge connected lower Currituck County and Kitty Hawk. This provided two routes for tourist to reach the upper portions of the Outer Banks. Although, there was still no good way to access the lower section around Buxton, Hatteras and Ocracoke.
In 1933, Frank Stick unveiled his plan. Cape Hatteras would be the focal point of a National Seashore that would extend over 100 miles. It would begin just south of the Virginia state line and extend past Cape Lookout, NC. The small villages scattered along the coastline would remain separate from the National Seashore. Several wildlife refuges were located throughout the area.
The first paved highway would extend the full length of the Seashore and bridges would link the islands in order for tourists to experience everything the area had to offer. Large sand dunes could provide protection for a paved road and would be aesthetically pleasing. Bridges would provide a better way to link the islands. The plan offered a chance to increase tourism and provide thousands of jobs.
What better time to promote this idea, than in the middle of a nationwide economic depression? The government saw the plan as a wonderful way to provide employment for thousands and they bought existing bridges in the area and removed the tolls. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore Commission bought land needed for the project. There was some animosity about how this was handled by people who owned property in the area which would become the National Seashore.
Frank Stick headed various projects on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. One of the first priorities was to build 115 miles of sand dunes to protect the islands and future roads. The project required 600 miles of fence, 140 million square feet of grass, with two and a half million small bushes and shrubs to build the dunes and anchor them against the forces of nature that would assault them. When the dune line was complete, they built paved roads.
During this time, the United States was experiencing a major economic depression. Untold numbers of people were unemployed in 1932. The people of the United States were desperate for some relief and they needed to find work.
New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt planned to protect the environment, by putting the masses of unemployed people to work. He called an emergency session of the 73rd Congress to announce his plan. Thousands of unemployed young men joined the peacetime army to fight the destruction of our natural treasures. Over three million men worked on the various projects.
Work camps were set up and myriads of young men traveled to areas of the country for specific types of work. The Civilian Conservation Corps were born. This story focuses on one project: the creation of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.
I've been reading a lot about how the seashore came into being and it was a fascinating time with a wide variety of people who were involved. There were different reasons why these people worked to help the seashore be formed. But, I think that is a story for another time.
Before the project could be completed, World War II broke out in Europe. The war forced the United States government to shift its focus. One of the many projects they abandoned was the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
"The first morning of Kristie’s vacation she jogs along the beach with her German shepherd, Lilah. At the base of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, Lilah finds a human bone below the sand dune. Kristie’s plans for a quiet week are forgotten as she joins in the investigation. Ocean breezes blow across the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Kristie uncovers a personal connection to the murder victim and her locket.
"She meets a handsome government worker named Nathan who is working to complete the National Seashore project in 1954. Do his co-workers know something about the crime? Will Kristie and the Deputy find the guilty party? Join Kristie on the rugged shores of Hatteras in the search for a murderer."
Read more from multi-talented author Nikki Leigh here. Her Cape Hatteras Series blog is also a great spot to check out!
Thanks so much, Nikki, for sharing your wealth of info on the history of the Outer Banks.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The state of Florida is a long narrow peninsula that separates the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It also includes a panhandle that stretches along the Gulf. This shape gives the state over 1200 miles of coastline.
The coastline of Florida is mainly low and sandy which requires the lighthouses along the coast to be tall in order to have good visibility away from the shore. Today there are 30 lighthouses remaining along the Florida shores. In this article I will give you some insight into three of these stately beacons.
St. Augustine is located on the Atlantic coast near the northern edge of Florida. We were traveling home from a visit in southern Florida and took a detour over to St. Augustine so that I could photograph the lighthouse.
I was delighted that in addition to a beautiful black and white lighthouse, the lighthouse grounds also included trails to walk and photograph from various angles and a wonderful museum. The lighthouse in St. Augustine was built in 1874 and is comprised of a 165ft black and white spiral tower. Visitors are welcome to climb the 219 steps to the top of the tower. The grounds also include a keeper's house and several out buildings. One of the buildings houses a museum detailing the history of the lighthouse. In the museum were several Fresnel lenses on display and it was great to see the lenses up close.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
We have stayed in Jupiter several times during the winter months so I have been fortunate to tour the Jupiter lighthouse and photograph it at various times of the day and night. It is a beautiful, stately, dark red lighthouse that is 105 feet tall and has 112 steps.
The Jupiter Lighthouse was established just prior to the Civil War and was lit only a year when the light was put out by confederate raiders. After the war, lighthouse keeper James Armour found the lens hidden in a nearby creek. He restored the lens to its proper place and the lens was back in operation by the end of 1866.
The lighthouse is on the Coast Guard grounds and you can purchase a ticket to climb the lighthouse at the nearby lighthouse museum shop. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the lighthouse and was able to photograph some great views of the coast from the windows as you climb the lighthouse.
The Cape Florida lighthouse is located on the southern tip of Key Biscayne in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. This lighthouse was built in 1825 and at that time was 65 feet tall. After a fire, it was rebuilt in 1847 and in 1855 it was elevated to 95 feet. It is a white conical structure that stands on the edge of the Atlantic coast.
I have photographed many lighthouses and I found this one to be particularly accessible. I was able to capture the lighthouse at various angles and had a clear shot of the lighthouse from the beach. I also was able to go inside the lighthouse and the replica of the keeper's house.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse at three of Florida’s historical lighthouses. For more information on Florida lighthouses you can check out my article at http://www.squidoo.com/floridalighthouses .
Mary Beth Granger is a photographer and lighthouse enthusiast. You can visit her lighthouse blog at http://lighthouse-photos-mbg.blogspot.com/ .
Copies of her photographs and designs are found in her shop at http://www.zazzle.com/lighthouseenthusiast
Friday, August 6, 2010
But back to NLD. What's it all about, actually? Well, back in 1988, Senator John H. Chafee (Rhode Island) sponsored a joint resolution that was introduced to Congress on April 28th, designating the day of August 7, 1989 as “National Lighthouse Day.” The enactment of the resolution would coincide with the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Lighthouse Act and the commissioning of the first Federal lighthouse in the United States. The Hon. William J. Hughes, House of Representatives, who co-sponsored the resolution, proclaimed it would "provide some long overdue recognition for the important role which lighthouses played in the history of our country, and the values of safety, heroism, and American ingenuity which they represent." See American Lighthouse Foundation for more.)
Traditionally, those lighthouses open to the public plan special events and celebrations every August 7th. This year is especially fun because the 7th falls on Saturday, a day when lighthouse visitation is already high. One particular lighthouse, however, will remain shuttered today, as it does for most of the other 364 days a year: St. George Reef, the inspiration for CAPE SEDUCTION.
Unlike most on-shore beacons, St. George Reef Lighthouse cannot be worked on at-will. While it needs countless hours of heavy restoration work, the good folks working at this tedious project are only allowed access to the water-locked sentinel during occasional, brief visits. As if it isn't hard enough to restore a lighthouse that can only be accessed by helicopter, this station has become home to numerous marine birds and mammals that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources says cannot be disturbed.
Still, the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society, (SGRLPS, founded in 1986) has assumed responsibility for this majestic, weather-beaten beacon, and continues their efforts despite heavy restrictions and foul weather. To raise a little cash (and satisfy lighthouse fanatics like myself) the SGRLPS ferries interested parties out to Northwest Seal Rock for a quick look-see at the lighthouse for around $200/pp. Visitors must steer clear of the sea lions and harbor seals, of course.
In my new novel CAPE SEDUCTION, a lighthouse very much like St. George Reef plays a big role. Just looking at it inspires a mixed sense of wonder and dread. Can you imagine being inside this wave-washed tower, surrounded by angry seas, alone and possibly... abandoned?
Donations to St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society are welcomed here.
See my author website for details about my upcoming blog tour and contest to win free books!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
How do I begin to describe it? The feeling of walking through what could be a portal to times past, a gateway to a long ago era when courageous men and women endured unimaginable loneliness and hardships unknown to most in their day. Some say there is romanticism to lighthouses, those proud, aging protectors of coastlines worldwide. Others feel apprehension in their shadows, a sort of unidentifiable uneasiness, as if the beacon’s searching white beam could lay open one’s innermost secrets.
I tend to fall in with the former. Lighthouses are romantic, mysterious and intriguing. From the first time I set foot inside Admiralty Head on Whidbey Island, Washington, I was entranced, staring upward at that marvelous nautilus stairway, dizzy at the prospect of climbing the iron steps to the top. But oh! The reward. Stunning does not begin to describe the view from the top.
From that time on, I was hooked. I began collecting all things “lighthouse.” Facts, stories, models, photos. I became somewhat of an expert within my sphere, and I sought entry to as many light stations as I could in my limited travels. Very nearly got thrown off the grounds of one, too.
My brother and his wife own and operate a lovely Victorian era bed & breakfast in a small, historic seaport near the northern entrance to Puget Sound, Washington. Port Townsend was once destined to be the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad, but later lost their bid to the more conveniently located town of Seattle. Still, Port Townsend remains a delightful relic of what could have been, with its stately nineteenth century estates, parks and small inlet.
There are two lighthouses located in Port Townsend. One, Point Wilson, is a traditional white tower on low ground, not open to the public and jealously guarded by its caretakers. “Photos from afar,” if you will. The second lighthouse is in town, built on a small bluff that overlooks the ferry landing to the north and the paper mill to the south. Built in 1990 and fashioned after the popular 1906 Mukilteo Light, Dimick Lighthouse does not have a 3rd order Fresnel lens or a foghorn, but it is “real” nonetheless, and as a friend of the Dimick family, I am invited to stay in their lighthouse whenever I visit.
A few years back, my romantic mystery, Point Surrender, was foundering. Stubborn, tucked deeply away in the black hole of my laptop, my novel steadfastly refused to come to life. I figured I needed some time away and possibly some inspiration. Port Townsend seemed like just the ticket, and to my delight and good fortune, Dimick Light was available for a short stay.
Dimick Lighthouse is a small house consisting of one large living area, a bathroom, and the light tower. The living area provides a double bed, separated from the sitting area by an antique, leaded glass folding screen, and the small kitchenette pretends to be a room behind a small bar. The steps leading to the gallery are wooden, and there is one small window half way up.
Immediately upon arriving, I raced to the top, through the lantern room and outside to literally gulp in the fresh air as I explored again the gallery. Worked “like a tonic” on me, as my grandmother might have said. I sat down there, my back against the lantern room glass, my knees drew up as I contemplated the view of Puget Sound, the Kitsap Ferry and a smattering of sail boats crossing to Marrowstone Island. Breathing actually felt different. Better. Clearer.
So did my mind. With the exception of a couple of meals and one afternoon of Port Townsend jazz, I did not leave the lighthouse for 3 days and nights. The keys on the laptop open on the small kitchen table drew my fingers like magnets. I didn’t know I could type that fast. Words traveled like electric currents from my brain to my fingertips, even as my eyes grew red and swollen. Climbing the steps at Dimick Lighthouse, I could “see” through the eyes of my heroine, Amy Winslow, as she forced her feet to move up Point Surrender’s curling staircase, fearful of what she might find at the top; could “see” just how Liam Jenner’s body might have looked at the bottom, twisted into an unnatural shape from the violence of his fall…
Point Surrender came to life that weekend in Washington, as my connection to lighthouses became a bond that will always remain. So much so, that I felt the urge, the demand, to write a second book wherein one of the main characters was a lighthouse. Cape Seduction was that story... to be continued.