Photos of the Week – Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

It’s a chilly Sunday afternoon here at our place, and I am enjoying some relaxation while watching a Christmas movie.  Casey and I went to a Christmas party yesterday evening, which was fun, but the hotel we stayed in was rather loud and therefore I am running on only a few hours of sleep today.  For whatever reason, I am very rarely able to nap, (and if I do fall asleep I wake up completely confused as to who I am and what century it is), so I’m just ignoring the fatigue and hoping I’ll sleep better tonight.

As I mentioned a of couple days ago, we recently went on a business trip to Virginia Beach, and I had time to do a little exploring while we were there.  Today and next Sunday I’ll be sharing some pictures from that trip. 🙂

When I first visited Virginia Beach about a year ago, I wanted to stop by the old Cape Henry Lighthouse and didn’t have time.  On this second trip, I made the visit a priority.

Cape Henry marks the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, which has long been of importance for ocean traffic and shipping.  During colonial times in North America, the growing number of ships coming and going from the Bay necessitated the building of a lighthouse.  Sea captains found it difficult to navigate due to fog, choppy water, and hidden shoals.

In 1772 the colonies of Virginia and Maryland began to work together to build a lighthouse on Cape Henry, but the project was temporarily abandoned due to lack of funding and the Revolutionary War.  In 1789, when the first Congress of the United States came together, one of their actions was to pass a bill calling upon the new government to provide the necessary funds to build the Cape Henry Lighthouse, as well as repair other “beacons, buoys, and public piers” in order to aid ships in their navigation and increase safety.  (You can read the bill here.)

The Cape Henry Lighthouse was officially completed in 1792, and a man named Laban Goffigan became the first keeper of the lighthouse, lighting the fish oil lamps to guide sailors to safety.  In 1841, improvements were made to the lantern, but it was damaged by Confederate troops during the Civil War in an effort to keep their enemies from using the lighthouse.  In response, the Union forces repaired the lighthouse and continued to use it anyway.

In the 1870s, an inspection revealed significant cracks in the lighthouse, and questions began to arise concerning its safety.  In 1881, a new lighthouse was erected a short distance away and is still in use.  The old Cape Henry Lighthouse was left standing and became a landmark, and so it remains today.  A small gift shop stands below the lighthouse, and tourists can pay a small amount to climb to the top of the tower.

Below are the steps just behind the gift shop, leading up to the lighthouse.

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Marker telling the history of the lighthouse:

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The cast iron stairs you see below were installed in 1867.  They replaced the original wooden staircase.

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Near the top of the lighthouse:

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Selfie at the top. 😉  You can see the newer Cape Henry Lighthouse behind me.

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~Katherine

For more interesting information, visit this link.

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