Tuesday, July 27, 2010
On the road again
This armchair traveler is hitting the road again, heading south to Delaware to explore Fenwick Island lighthouse!
In my research into this lighthouse, I discovered that the establishment of the State of Delaware was actually the culmination of a 1700s version of "family feud." Two of the most prominent families--the Penns of Pennsylvania and the Calverts of Maryland--disputed where the easternmost border should lie between the two colonies. A land survey of 1751 finally settled the issue: a stone monument was placed at Fenwick Island, with the Penn coat of arms carved into its north face and the Calvert coat of arms inscribed in its south face. King George III of England himself ratified the border in 1769. It was from the three lower counties of Pennsylvania that Delaware was subsequently created.
By 1856, the U.S. Congress had determined the need for a lighthouse along the unprotected 60-mile stretch of Atlantic coast between Cape Henlopen, the light at the southern entrance to Delaware Bay, and Assateague Island lighthouse in Virginia. The sum of $25,000 was appropriated for the Fenwick Island lighthouse, a 75-foot brick tower with a third-order Fresnel lens first lit in the summer of 1859.
Unlike Cape Henlopen, its lighthouse neighbor to the north which crumbled into the Atlantic Ocean in the 1930s, Fenwick Island lighthouse withstood the test of time and the elements until 1978, when it was deactivated by the Coast Guard and its lens removed. Ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the State of Delaware, which supported the efforts of the Friends of Fenwick Island Lighthouse to reactivate the station.
Restoration work was begun in 1997, and the following year a rededication ceremony was held in which the original third-order Fresnel lens was once again illuminated.