Preservation 50 Friday: Would you trust your life to a computer?

(Following several shipping disasters near Evanston, local residents successfully lobbied the federal government for a lighthouse. Construction was complete in 1873.

Following several shipping disasters near Evanston, local residents successfully lobbied the federal government for a lighthouse. Construction was complete in 1873.

I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t trust my life to a computer. In this age of self driving cars like Tesla, I don’t think I’d book a flight on a self driving Jet. Would you?

So when I read an article from Lighthouses of Europe by Daniel Charles that said GPS could replace Lighthouses making them obsolete, I took a pause. Lighthouses have a history of saving countless lives by warning of treacherous reefs and hazards. Mariners can track where they are by the daymark and flashing signal beam. Most lighthouses are now automated.

And GPS? The GPS signal sometimes falters. Navigation systems  err.

Google maps is pretty reliable but recently it told me and my daughter to get off an exit then get back on the highway only to be told to get off the next exit and get back on the highway again. We decided to use common sense and ignore Google maps. It probably wasn’t updated we surmised.

At least It was no life and death matter we were only going to church. I felt like Google was more about fire and brimstone than the sermon we heard that day!

GPS and Google rely on satellites. I think we forget that satellite signals can sometimes be blocked. Granted Lighthouses aren’t full proof either but together with GPS it makes a strong case for safety.

Even self driving cars have the capability of being overridden by a human for safety reasons. Otherwise you’d have computers playing Russian Roulette at an approaching accident and deciding who should live or die. Life is complicated enough.



Preservation 50 Friday: Hurricane Matthew’s Mayhem and Mercy

A view of new Smyrna Beach

A view of New Smyrna Beach along A1A before Hurricane Matthew.

Florida’s iconic A1A is symbolic of the struggles facing Florida after being hit by Hurricane Matthew. Portions of the scenic route will be closed for several months. Some areas face massive damages while others have no or minimal property damage.

The powerful winds and rain caused the downfall of trees throughout the state. Nine people died in hurricane related deaths in Florida. Because much of Florida’s Atlantic coast is at sea level, storm surge caused huge damage and beach erosion in spite of the hurricane staying offshore.

Hillsboro lighthouse

Hillsboro Lighthouse Inlet at Pompano Beach

Beach erosion and sea encroachment are major problems for lighthouses. It led to the demise of Cape St. George Lighthouse on the Gulf Coast. The Hillsboro Lighthouse on the Atlantic Coast was already suffering from beach erosion and Hillsboro Lighthouse Society was raising funds for restoration.

Florida has approximately nine lighthouses on the east coast between Miami and Amelia Island. The St. Augustine Lighthouse is currently open but the phones are down. The Amelia Island Lighthouse, Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, Hillsboro Lighthouse, Ponce de Leon Lighthouse and Cape Florida Lighthouse are open regular hours. There are no lighthouse tours currently scheduled for Jupiter Lighthouse. Check their website for updates. As for status of the two lighthouses located Naval Station Mayport, I was unable to verify anything.

The road to recovery may take a while in Florida. Still Floridians should be thankful for the lives that were spared during Hurricane Matthew.

Preservation 50 Friday: The Closure of Washington Monument


Miami Design Preservation League poster rallying the community.

The iconic Washington Monument is closed indefinitely to the public due to faulty elevators. The National Park Service stated on Facebook: “Despite the continuing work on the Washington Monument elevator, we have not been able to determine the causes of the ongoing reliability issues. As a result, we have made the difficult decision not to reopen the Washington Monument until we can modernize the elevator control system.”

Despite the 555 foot obelisk towering over the city of Washington, I’m sure it was taken for granted like most landmarks. We see them but don’t see them. We want landmarks available for public use but are unwilling to spend the money and expertise needed to upkeep and preserve them. Hopefully the closing of the monument will draw attention to this other public landmarks.

The Coral Rock House before Restoration

The Coral Rock House before restoration.

Sometimes it takes extreme measures to get public attention. I’ve seen my share of boarded up historic buildings in Miami Beach. But thanks to the public and Miami Design Preservation League I have seen many return to their former glory.

Restored Coral Rock House.

Restored Coral Rock House.

I’m hoping the Washington Monument will reopen sooner than later if the public lets officials know how important this landmark is as a symbol of our nation.

Preservation 50 Friday: Southern Fried Rock at St. Simons Lighthouse

St. Simons Lighthouse, Georgia.

St. Simons Lighthouse, Georgia.

Enjoy a “Little Light Music” at the St. Simons Lighthouse, Georgia. Billed as Southern fried rock and boogie, the “Island Garage Band” jams on Sunday, August 14 at 7 pm.

Concert goers are invited to picnic and relax under the stars while celebrating an evening of music. Individual tickets for the concert are only $12 per person at the gate. Children under 12 and Keepers of the Light are admitted free. A Little Light Music season runs May through September.

For more information, call 912-634-7090 or visit

Preservation 50 Friday: The Legend of the Mooncussers

Cape Florida was attacked by Seminoles.

Cape Florida was attacked during the Second Seminole War.

While I knew that lighthouses have often come under attack during various wars in the United States. I had never heard of the Mooncussers. Legend has it that some attacked light keepers and put out the light.

They would also lure vessels onto the dark coastline. Armed with a “Judas Lantern,” these shoreline pirates would situate themselves along the coast, directly behind dangerous rocks.

They would gyrate a lantern to resemble a swaying ships lantern. Seeing the light and thinking another ship had found safe harbor, the deceived captain would stir in that direction and become aground. In rocky seas, the ship would break up and its cargo would be stolen by Mooncussers. Some claim that if the sea was calm, Mooncussers would beat or kill the sailors.

America’s Atlantic Coast Lighthouses by Jeremy D’entremont


Preservation 50 Friday: Sunset at St. Simons Island

St Simons Island Lighthouse

St. Simons Island Lighthouse, GA.

Driving along the Georgia coast, I was headed to St. Simons Island. Having already visited Tybee Island Lighthouse, I was excited about finishing the day with one final lighthouse. Having received faulty information from my auto club, I stopped by the Golden Isles Welcome Center on I95.

I listened half heartily to the directions figuring I could easily find it based on a previous visit. After ending up at Jekyll Island and Sea Island, I laughed at my misadventure and poor memory.

Puzzled about want to do, I remembered Google maps on my phone. Keying in my destination, I was guided effortlessly to the lighthouse.

A view of the ocean

A walkway nearby offers a tranquil view of the Atlantic.

Although the lighthouse was closed, I was delighted to be able to walk the grounds. Stopping on the walkway near the ocean I gazed into the distance. I walked around the lighthouse trying to decide on the best vantage point for my painting.

Lighthouse signage

A marker with the history of the lighthouse.

A little tired after a long day, I welcomed the chance to sit down and draw the lighthouse. As the sun was setting, a blaze of light bounced off the lighthouse. It seemed to refresh the lighthouse and me. For now the lighthouse was receiving light instead of giving it.

Preservation 50 Friday: Tybee Island Light Getaway

Tybee Island Light Station

Tybee Island Light Station

I bypassed Savannah and headed to the coast for a visit to the Tybee Island Light Station. Tybee Island is a quaint beach town with locally owned businesses and a peaceful shoreline.


Stairwell inside Tybee Island Light Station.

Built in 1867, the present-day lighthouse is the fourth lighthouse constructed. War and weather led to the demise of the previous lighthouses. The current lighthouse was constructed using part of the third lighthouse as its foundation.

View of the coast.

View of the coast.

Along with the lighthouse there are several dwellings that offer insight into the lives of lightkeepers. Visit the homes of lightkeepers and see how they lived. Watch a short film and view signage with detailed information on the Tybee Island Lighthouse. Enjoy a breathtaking view from the lighthouse to complete your visit.
America’s Atlantic Coast Lighthouses by Jeremy D’Entremont