Thursday, January 28, 2016

Visit Georgia's Beautiful Lighthouses

Visit These Historic Beacons

I love lighthouses and on a recent trip to the Georgia coast we went on a quest to photograph each lighthouse. I was pleasantly surprised to find several unique lighthouses near the area where we were staying. After further research, not only did I find unique lighthouses but lighthouses that had interesting historic stories. Some lighthouses survived the civil war and others were rebuilt after the war.

One unique lighthouse has a legend of the "waving girl" who greeted vessels for over 46 years. In all I was able to photograph four different Georgia lights and this lens will detail my visit to each of these lights.
photographs by Mary Beth Granger

Tybee Island

State's Oldest Lighthouse

The lighthouse at Tybee Island is Georgias oldest and tallest lighthouse.
The lighthouse is located several blocks off the northern end of Tybee Island. We drove around it several times looking for the right angle to photograph the lighthouse without getting all of the wires and other buildings in the photos. It is a stately looking black and white lighthouse that appears to be very well maintained.
The lighthouse and towers at Tybee Island have had a lot of bad luck over the years. The first tower was built off Tybee in 1733, but it soon collapsed in a storm. The second tower's life was cut short by encroaching seas and a third tower was constructed in 1773. At first these towers only helped navigation in the daylight, since they were not lit. The third tower was lit in 1790. In 1862 the Confederate forces torched the lighthouse to prevent the Union troops from using it. In 1886 a rare earthquake badly damaged the lighthouse. In 1867 the lighthouse was reconstructed using the 1773 structure as a base. It's First Order Fresnel Lens is still in use today.
The lighthouse has undergone several reconstructions during modern times making it one of the best maintained lighthouses in the United States. You can read more of the interesting history of the Tybee lighthouse in the link below under Great Links on Georgia Lighthouses.

Savannah's Old Harbor Light

Guiding Ships through Savannah River

I had read about a light in Savannah harbor that appeared to be more of a giant streetlight than a lighthouse, so I was anxious to see it.
We were driving in downtown Savannah and I was describing the light to my husband while we were at a stoplight. I remembered it was on Bay street and just then I looked up and saw what I thought might be the light. My husband wasn't so sure, but he pulled into the park where it stood and sure enough it was the historic Savannah harbor light.
It is a beacon light that was erected in 1858 to aid in navigation on the Savannah river. It stands 77 feet above the river level and was illuminated by gas. It is a dark green metal and does look like an old fashioned street lamp. I was able to get several photographs of the light. The setting was perfect with the moss hanging off the trees. It seems to fit so well with the character of Savannah.

Cockspur Island

Waving Girl Legend

The lighthouse at Cockspur Island marks the entrance to the south channel of the Savannah River. Cockspur Island is just off the coast from Fort Pulaski and can be seen on the drive between Savannah, GA and Tybee Island.
I could see the lighthouse from the bridge but was uncertain how I would get a good photograph. After some searching we found a small road that led back to an area where I could put on my telephoto lens and capture some great shots of this historic lighthouse.
The first lighthouse was built at Cockspur in 1736 and the current light was built in 1857. Although the lighthouse was right in the midst of a civil war battle it was able to survive the war. Lighthouse Friends details the history of the lighthouse and information on the lighthouse keepers over the years.
One interesting legend of the lighthouse is called the "waving girl". In the legend the lighthouse keepers sister greeted vessels passing the lighthouse with a wave of her handkerchief during the day and by waving the lantern at night.

St Simons Island

The light at St Simons island is 104 feet tall and has a brick keepers house in front of the lighthouse. It is a working lighthouse that along with the keepers house (now a museum) is open to the public. The tower has 129 interior steps. The lighthouse has an interesting history. One lightkeeper was murdered on the grounds when he had an disagreement with his assistant. Another lightkeeper and his wife kept hearing unexplained footsteps in the tower, which sent their dog Jinx into a frenzy. To this day people still talk of hearing strange footsteps in the tower. Read more about the history in the link from lighthousefriend.com in the section Great Links on Georgia Lighthouses.
I enjoyed our visit to St Simons island. It is a nice beach town with a street of tourist and artsy shops. A great place to visit and spend an afternoon!