Voices of Lighthouses Blog
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Built in 1907, the Hillsboro Lighthouse has an idyllic setting. Swaying palms trees and calming azure water, belay it’s noble purpose. The lighthouse was built after four centuries of wrecks on area reefs. It has a black and white day mark. The top of the lighthouse is painted black to make it visible above the trees. The bottom white half contrasts against the trees.
The lighthouse, also called "Big Diamond" is unique. With of a beam of 28 nautical miles, it is has the strongest light beam of all US lighthouses. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.
The lighthouse was built after four centuries of wrecks on area reefs. It has a black and white day mark. The top of the lighthouse is painted black to make it visible above the trees. The bottom white half contrasts against the trees. My painting contrasts the day mark of the lighthouse against a peaceful and tropical setting.
I painted Cape Florida Lighthouse after a week of rain. I drove to Key Biscayne to see the lighthouse on a sunny Florida. Standing behind a canopy of palm trees, the beautiful lighthouse towered against a clear blue sky. The lighthouse was surrounded by mangroves and not condos, thanks to the park's namesake, Bill Baggs. The Bill Baggs State Park was opened in 1967 foiling efforts by developers.
Cape Florida Lighthouse has witnessed many struggles, hardships, and endured a fire. It has withstood more than 4 dozen hurricanes, including Hurricane Andrew. Its existence predates the founding of the of Miami. During the Second Seminole Wars in 1836, the lighthouse was destroyed. The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1846-47.
After falling in the Gulf of Mexico, Cape St. George Lighthouse was restored in 2011 with the support of the local community, state and federal governments. The current lighthouse was constructed from the remains of the second lighthouse in 1852.
In the 1800s the Gulf Coast of Florida the third busiest port in Florida for transporting cotton. The Cape St. George Lighthouse was built in 1833 to mark Apalachicola Bay. Because the mariners could not see the lighthouse it was rebuilt in 1852 at the southern extreme of St. George Island. After powerful storms, the lighthouse was rebuilt in 1852. Hurricanes, storms and beach erosion would eventually take its toll on the lighthouse. In 2005 the 1852 lighthouse collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gay Head Cliffs in the town of Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard are so spectacular that they make it to the bucket list. It's no wonder that Gay Head Cliffs and Lighthouse are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The beach near the lighthouse was featured in the movie, "Jaws." There's a shot of the lighthouse in the movie.
By happy circumstance, I was visiting Martha's Vineyard when they were moving the lighthouse. It was in danger of falling off the magnificent cliffs.
Moving it was nothing short of a miracle. The lighthouse was put on a track to move it to a safe place. What a feat. After cheers and champagne, the Gay Head Advisory Committee got a list of more needed repairs.
This is not the first time the lighthouse was moved. After being completed in November 1779, lighthouse was first moved in 1844.
After a short boat ride, I arrived at Anclote Key State Preserve and debarked at the pristine beach. A scenic nature trail to Anclote Key Lighthouse. I drew several sketches and took photographs of the fuel house before scaling the 102 foot lighthouse. The steel framed lighthouse offered a panoramic view of the tiny pristine island. I was delighted to be able visit during the reopening.
When I painted the lighthouse I thought about the signs that I had read along the nature trail. They warned that Florida’s natural habitat was being endangered by invasive erotics. These erotics endanger the vibrant ecosystem that supports some of Florida’s great wildlife, such as manatees, sea turtles and shore birds. This inspired me to used green in the painting to symbolize Florida’s lush natural habitat and to add a few palms trees that were prevalent on the island. The swaying palms seem to protect the lighthouse from the invasive erotics.
Anclote is the Spanish word for anchor. The lighthouse was built in 1887. The tower was fabricated in the north and shipped to the island. It took just three months to assemble it. (www.lighthousefriends.com)
My trip to Amelia Island Lighthouse reminded me of playing “peekaboo” with my children. The impossible task of hiding behind a mere pair of hands came to mind as we were driving in circles trying to find a 67 feet tall lighthouse. It seemed like there was a decision to make the lighthouse inaccessible and hidden.
Surely this caper was a ploy by the US Coast Guard and the upscale neighborhood to keep visitors at a minimum. True to form the were no directional signs for getting to the lighthouse. The GPS was cahoots with their plan and proved useless in the search. Still the paper map indicated the lighthouse was nearby.
Finally, after noticing a narrow unmarked road, my sister and I discovered the beautiful lighthouse at the road’s end. The lighthouse stood on a peak behind a forest of trees. I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed a dose of Florida sunshine and blue skies.
In the painting above, the Amelia Island Lighthouse is camouflaged. This contradicts the mission of a lighthouse. It sole purpose is to be seen.