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Today’s post goes up at the theoretical sunrise on the shortest day of the year in the sixth boro;  the solstice is here, and I’m grateful the days can’t get any shorter this year.  It’s 58 degrees (!!) but blustery, rainy right now, so there won’t be an observable sunrise.  Now we start moving back to those long evenings, which can’t come soon enough for me.  Maybe 2019 will bring the summer midnight sun for me, if I commit to going where that happens.

And what captures the spirit of the winter solstice better than lighthouses.   Obviously I didn’t take the shot below.  The last lightship named Ambrose was retired in August 1967, and a tower stood from 1967 until 2008.  This photo was likely taken in 1967.  The first tower was hit by a tanker and seriously damaged in 1996.  Three years later, a new tower was built nearby, but in the next decade that tower was struck TWICE by ships, and it was razed;  technology, one assumed, had rendered those sorts of markers at the entrance to the sixth boro obsolete.  If you have more of this history, and especially photos showing the damaged structures and the demolition process,I’d love to hear, read, and see.

The entrance to the Buffalo River once had this odd 1903 “bottle light,” which some call the Jules Verne light.   Again, I’d love to read more about decisions that led to this design.  It’s no longer active but still visible.

I took all the photos in this post except the first one and the last two.  Behold the end here!!   At the east end of Long Island stands Montauk Light, along with the shorter WW2 lookout tower.   Montauk is the site of NYS’s first lighthouse.

Chicago Harbor Southeast Guiding Wall light is just outside the USACE lock at the “source” of the Chicago River; previously, the source we’d call the mouth.  Click here for more info on Centennial Wheel over on Navy Pier.

Ship John Shoal is named for  . . .  a vessel named John that came to its end there in 1797.  Somewhere–and I wish I could locate where–I read last summer that many of the lighthouses on shoals of Upper Lake Michigan came to be sited because of wrecks, and therefore can be thought of as memorials and cautionary tales.

Some day I hope to take a closeup tour of Waugoshance Light, west of Mackinac City.  Supposedly no keepers wanted serve there after frequent reports of hauntings.  She was made obsolete by a stronger beam, taller light and abandoned.  In WW2, the tower and crib were used for bombing practice, detailed here.  Given that, I’m surprised how intact it seems in 2018.

This is White Shoals light, the one that replaced Waugoshance.  In the distance, that’s the 1000′ Indiana Harbor, eastbound and heading for the Soo. A few months ago, the Detroit News ran a story about the light’s new owner, with lots of closeup and interior photos;  to read it, click here.

Big Sable Point Light . . .  stands in front of the dunes north of Ludington MI.  Some miles to the south is Little Sable Point Light.

Two Rivers Point Light (Rawley Point) is located near the town made famous by the marine products of Kahlenberg.

Poverty Island Light, on an island in the chain between the Door and the Garden Peninsulas,  is hard to get to and seriously endangered.  Better pics here.

Round Island Passage Light stands on a shoal between Mackinac Island and Round Island.  In the distance, that’s Paul R. Tregurtha arriving from the east, the entrance to the Soo. Round Island Passage, despite being quite narrow, is very heavily trafficked by vessels large and small.

The Erie Canal –and I know this number will be challenged–has three full size lighthouses, the most prominent of which–especially as seen from the west–is Verona Beach Light.

Toro Point is the skeletal light located on the Caribbean side of the Panamian isthmus in what is referred to as Fuerte Sherman, a place to see to appreciate the speed with which the jungle overtakes a clearing.

This photo comes from my daughter, taken near Salvador, Brasil.  I love the photo but can’t tell you more.

.And finally, to close out this solstice post, which I hope has brought you some light and cheer, Muanda Light in the DRC, taken by a friend who has spent most of his life there. I never got to see it while I was working there in the mid 1970s.

Happy solstice!!   Build a bonfire!  Light some candles!!  Click on some bright bright lights!!  Click here for my previous summer and winter solstice posts.

Thanks to Steve and Myriam for their photos;  all others by Will Van Dorp, who alone is responsible for any errors.

Also, if there are readers out there with photos to share of lighthouses from Europe, Asia, Oceania, and Australia, please send them along.



Let’s start with some goat names . . .  Capricornus Leader and

Onego Capri.  In the background and in true Chekhov’s gun fashion . . . that mark on the horizon, well . . .


that’s the intriguingly named Ship John Shoal. 

I always wonder what self-propelled machines are encased in these ROROs.

Again . . .   following Chekhov’s rule . . .   but first, would you guess this vessel is approaching?

It turned.  Now that blur off to the right of Minerva’s bow, I


can’t tell you because we never caught up.

The waters have many moods . . . That’s the also intriguingly named West Bank Light off in the distance.

And finally . . .  Bora Bora.  Could you locate that namesake place on a map of the world?

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

If you need help with Bora Bora, here’s a clue.


Ever since learning that the official name of the “little red lighthouse” was Jeffrey’s Hook Light, I wondered who this Jeffrey was.

That is . . . until now.

From a report written in 1991 by Betsy Bradley and Elisa Urbanelli, I offer this:

So it might be another example of anglicized Dutch “colonial” term. Other examples are in the Kills.  Juffrouw is a common Dutch word even today.  Dutch influence lives on in many names in the Valley. Click here for many many more.

Photos by Will Van Dorp.

For many more lighthouses, click here.

Here’s a Hudson down bound set of three posts I did five years ago, in a different season.

This trip starts at Scarano’s just south of Albany, where a crew picked up excursion boat Kingston for delivery to Manhattan.   Last fall after delivery up bound, I posted these landmarks.

Spirit of Albany (1966), operated by the Albany Port District Commission, is a regular for the Waterford Tugboat Roundup parade.

High above Castleton, name going back to Henry Hudson, is that Sacred Heart Church?

Two bridges cross just north of Coeymans are the Berkshire Spur of the NY Thruway and the Alfred H. Smith Memorial Bridge, the furthest south operational rail bridge over the Hudson.

Katherine Walker performs spring buoy planting south of Coxsackie.

I’ve heard a story behind the “parked” marine equipment in Athens NY, but need a refresher.  Anyone explain how this came to be frozen in time here?  The view is only possible if your draft allows you to navigate the channel on the west side of Middle Ground Flats.

Hudson-Athens Light is one of the lighthouses saved from demolition at a point when all lights were being automated.  Back when I did more hiking, I looked down on the Hudson and some of these landmarks from the heights, in “what Rip saw,” as in the long sleeper.

South of Catskill Creek, you can see snow still covering the slopes of the Catskills.

Marion Moran pushes Bridgeport upbound.  That’s the east shore of the Hudson beyond her.

By the time we get to Saugerties, snow seems to be creating whiteout conditions on the Catskill escarpement.

We head south, here meeting Fells Point pushing Doubleskin 302.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.  For more on the lighthouses, click here. In the next in the series, we head farther south.

And for what it’s worth, I’m still in the market for some “seats” photos.


Some previous posts with lighthouses can be seen here,  here and here, but  more hide in the archives of this blog.

Question:  any guesses what/where this structure is?  Answer follows.

Dry Tortugas Light on Loggerhead Key–three miles from Fort Jefferson– first illuminated navigators in 1858, this month 143 years ago.

This National Park Service pdf about Loggerhead Key details its interesting history since the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty, when La Florida was transformed Spanish to United States territory.

The first light in the Dry Tortugas-a place to stock up on turtle meat-was first lit in 1826, but according to the tour guide, that brick light tower was razed in 1877 because its location too often directed approaching vessels over reefs to their doom.

Fort Jefferson-the unfinished coastal fortress also known as the second largest masonry structure on Earth (after the Great Wall of China)–would never have been started if the US government had heeded the 1825 recommendation of US Navy Commodore David Porter (adoptive father of the future Admiral David G. Farragut!!) because of its lack of fresh water and stable bedrock for foundations.  Four years later, the US government accepted the recommendation of the next Commodore–John Rodgers–and began construction of the structure that failed in the ways Porter predicted and was obsolete before it approached completion.

By the way, Porter had an intriguing career, including being prisoner of both the Barbary pirates (1803-5)  and the British Navy (1814) but also  Captain of US naval vessels, court-martialee after his unauthorized invasion of Fajardo, commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy (1826-29),   and US ambassador to the Barbary States and Turkey.  Imagine someone trying to do those things in that order today.

In the foto below, notice the different colored bricks.

The iron light tower  built into a wall of Fort Jefferson served from 1877 until 1912.

The bricks of different colors reflect the origin of the brick:  again . . . according to the tour guide, bricks produced in the South before the Civil War have resisted time well.  After 1861, bricks came here from Maine (!) and have fared less well in this climate.

If you imagine you see window air conditioners where guns should be, you are NOT imagining that.  National Park Service employees live inside the Fort and have added contemporary creature comforts.

Dry Tortugas is 70 miles west of Key West; only six miles out is Sand Key Light, shimmering astern of Western Union beyond the green buoy.

Key West Light–through various remodelings– has stood here since 1847.

Less than a block away is the house where Hemingway lived in the 1930s.

You might call it a “cat house” today, where the dozens of poly-toed cats have names like Picasso and Dickinson and Truman . . .

A mariner who shall remain nameless claims to have briefly sat in Hemingway’s chair and typed on his keys.  Well, be advised . . . that’s just not possible any more.

Time for a few Hemingway quotes?    “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”    And   “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

But check out this title!   I’d imagined he’d say something like “There is no way to make good pictures . . . the best way to make them is  . . . to make them.”

At least Hemingway had taste in naming his boat . . . which I hope to see some day, not easy to do because Pilar is at Finca Vigia in  Cuba.  More fotos here.  Pilar was once in Brooklyn!  Brooklyn’s Wheeler Shipyard (I believe it was in or near the Navy Yard) made out a bill of sale to the writer on April 18, 1934 for a “38-foot twin cabin Playmate cruiser” with “one [75 hp] Chrysler Crown reduction gear engine” and “4-cylinder Lycoming straight drive engine” for trolling for a grand total of $7455.  For a thread on a discussion board related to Pilar, click here.    Pilar was Hemingway’s q-boat.

My question is this:  How did Pilar get from Brooklyn to Key West?  Did someone make a delivery by water?  Ship?  Train?   And does anyone know if Valhalla, Pilar’s sistership, has been restored after its accidental sinking in 2007?

So that first building . . . here’s the rest of it as seen from Jacksonville Beach.  It’s the 1946-built Art Deco life saving station, not a lighthouse at all.  A beauty though.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

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