Sunday, May 27, 2012

USA

The Hudson River played a strategic military role in the American history: during the Revolutionary War important battles were fought on its banks. After the invention of the steamboat in 1807, the river witnessed an explosion in commercial shipping traffic and passenger transportation and became a vital artery in the development of New York State. Saugerties was a major port with daily commercial and passenger transportation and in 1869, a lighthouse was built on a circular pier offshore in the river (42°4′19.53″N 73°55′46.72″W).
The 46 ft (14m) square tower attached to Italianate 2-story red-brick dwelling received a sixth-order Fresnel lens. When electricity was extended to the lighthouse in the 1940s, the house was “modernized” with steam heat, plumbing and a phone. In 1954, the Guard automated the light and the building was closed up. The unoccupied building deteriorated rapidly and the Coast Guard planned to demolish the building.  A campaign mounted by local residents halted the demolition. In 1979, the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The lighthouse is currently managed by the non-profit Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy which purchased the lighthouse in 1986 and has restored it. The Coast Guard installed a Fresnel lens with solar-powered light and the tower was reactivated on August 4, 1990. The lighthouse is in use as a bed and breakfast inn, but it is also open to visitors and offers a small museum and a gift shop.

USA

The lighthouses of the beautiful and dangerous wilderness coast of Washington are some of the greatest engineering stories of the late 1800’s. Building lighthouses here required extraordinary ingenuity, courage and strength - this is an area of huge waves, high winds, towering cliff faces, rolling sand dunes and pounding surf. Whaling and fishing were major industries and provided some of the impetus for lighthouse building.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

FRANCE

La Vieille (“The Old Lady”) Lighthouse is located in the département of Finistère on the northwest coast of France (48°02′26″N 4°45′23″W). Built between 1882 and 1887 on the rock known as la Gorlebella, it illuminates and improves the safety of the strait Raz de Sein. Fierce tides limited the period in which building work could take place to less than half of each year. The 27m (89 ft) square granite tower was first lit on September 15, 1887 and is situated in a remote position in rough seas. During the World War II the light was extinguished, on 21 January 1944, and reinstated on June 1st, 1945. Although electricity was introduced in 1992, the generators installed were used only by the keepers; the light itself remained oil-powered until its automation on 14 November 1995. La Vieille became the penultimate French lighthouse to be automated, a process delayed due to the lighthouse keepers on the site refusing in protest to carry out the task.
On the left corner of the postcard, we see La Plate Lighthouse, also known as Petite Vieille (“Little Old Woman”), located on a submerged rock about 300 m southwest of La Vieille Light (48°02′21″N 4°45′35″W). The 26 m (85 ft) octagonal concrete tower painted yellow with a black horizontal band was lit in 1910 and is still active.

NETHERLANDS

The West Schouwen Lighthouse is located in Haamstede in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands (51°42′32″N 3°41′28″E). Designed by L. Valk, the tower’s construction started in 1837 and on March 25, 1840, the light was first lit. The 50 m (164 ft) round brick tower is one of the tallest lighthouses in the Netherlands. A stair of 226 steps, in stone and partially in iron, leads to the top. In 1934, the lighthouse was electrified and painted in the red-and-white spiral pattern as a warning to low flying aircrafts. On May 10, 1940 during World War II, the German Army destroyed the lens system and an auxiliary light was installed in the gallery in 1946. The current 2nd order Fresnel lens was installed on May 28, 1953.

SOUTH AFRICA

Green Point Lighthouse is South Africa's oldest lighthouse and is located at Western Cape Beach Road, in Cape Town (33°54’04’’S 18°24’02’’E). It stands close to the Green Point Soccer Stadium (2010 FIFA World Cup) and to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a popular tourist and shopping venue. The postcard shows the residential Sea Point suburbs, the greenish Signal Hill and the spire of Devil’s Peak in the background. 
The light was built by the German architect Herman Schutte and first lit on Monday evening, 12 April 1824. The lantern house was increased in height in 1865, when it was fitted with a circular plane and a cast-iron murette. The 16 m (52 ft) square brick tower, painted with diagonal red and white stripes, rises from the center of a keeper's house. Introduced in 1922, the present and active 3rd Order lens system produces a flash light visible in a range of 25 nautical miles. Since thick winter fog regularly obscures the land, a foghorn was installed in January 1926 in the light station. Useful and welcoming to the ships and noisy and disruptive to Capetonians, the foghorn was nicknamed “Moaning Minnie” or “Bellowing Bill” and was in operation until 1986, when was replaced by a nautophone.  Green Point Light was electrified in March 1929. Since June 1993, the lighthouse became the home of the Lighthouse Services Business Unit of the National Ports Authority and the light keeper’s house was converted into offices, visitor center and a small museum.

Friday, May 18, 2012

USA

Point Judith Lighthouse is located on the west side of the entrance to Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island as well as the eastern entrance to Block Island Sound (41°21′39.7″N 71°28′53″W). This was once one of America’s most heavily trafficked stretches of water and point of frequent shipwrecks.  The first wooden tower built here in 1810 was blown over by a hurricane on September 17, 1815.  It was the third lighthouse in Rhode Island. A 35-foot (11 m) stone lighthouse was erected the following year.
The present 51 feet (16 m) octagonal granite tower was built in 1857 and the lighthouse was originally attached to a 2-story keeper’s house by enclosed walkway. The upper half of the tower is painted brown, the lower half white and the lantern and gallery are black to make the light structure a more effective daymark for maritime traffic. The light was electrified in 1939 and the brick keeper's house was torn down in 1954, the same year the lighthouse was automated. The fourth-order Fresnel lens installed here before the Civil War remains in service. Point Judith Lighthouse is located on what is now the Point Judith Coast Guard Station. The grounds are open to the public, although the interior of the lighthouse, oil house, and fog signal building (seen on the postcard) are not.

FINLAND

Bengtskär Lighthouse is the tallest light in Scandinavia and is located on a small rocky islet at the North Baltic Sea, entrance of the Gulf of Finland.  Bengtskär is Finland’s southernmost inhabited island (59°43,4'N 22°30,1'E).  The construction of the tower commenced in early 1906 using granite quarried from Bengtskär itself.  The 46 m (151 ft) round granite tower was first lit on December 19, 1906 and its light could be seen for twenty nautical miles.
In 1914 during the World War I, all lighthouse keepers and their families were evacuated to the mainland, and the lantern was placed in storage. The lighthouse was shelled by two German ships but was not badly damaged. In World War II, Soviet troops attempted to storm the island on 26 July 1941, but they were driven off after a fierce battle. Soviet air raids damaged the keeper's house but spared the tower. After repairs, the lighthouse was reopened in 1950.
In 1968, the lantern was automated and the lighthouse keepers left the island. The building quickly started to turn into a ruin damaged by storms, wind and the invasion of vandals. In 1983, the lantern was converted to wind-powered electricity. Restored in the early 1990s, Bengtskär Lighthouse was opened to visitors on August 18, 1995 and nowadays is a popular touristic destination. The former 3-story granite keeper's house now hosts a lecture hall, a chapel, conference rooms, a café, a museum and post office.  It is also possible to book overnight accommodations and climb the 252 steps of the spiral staircase leading up to the reflector room.

NORWAY

Slettnes Lighthouse is located on the Barents Sea, at the Nordkyn peninsula, near the fishing village of Gamvik, Norway (71.05.03N  28.13.10E). It is considered the northernmost mainland lighthouse of the world. The 39 m (128 ft) round cast iron tower was first lit on September 15, 1905. During World War II the Germans used the lighthouse as an observatory position, but in October 1944, the German Army in full retreat, blew up the lighthouse station. The new station was designed by architects G.Blakstad and H. Munthe-Kaas and was completed in 1948. The new tower was painted red with two white horizontal bands, has 9 storeys and a spiral 139-steps staircase. Electrified in 1956 and automated in 2005 the lighthouse is protected by a 1998 cultural heritage act, and is situated in a nature reserve rich in migratory birds and Arctic vegetation. From the end of May to mid July, many tourists visit Gamvik to see the natural phenomenon of the midnight sun and it is possible to book accommodation at the Slettnes light station buildings.

RUSSIA

Murmansk is a city and seaport in the extreme north-west part of Russia, on the Kola Bay. A memorial in honor of the 85th anniversary of the city was opened near Lake Semyonovskoye in 2002. The memorial includes a 28 m (92 ft) hexagonal cylindrical tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands, the Lighthouse Monument. This lighthouse is not a genuine aid to navigation. There is a Memorial Hall in the basement part of the lighthouse; each wall of the hall is devoted to the memory of fishermen who perished at sea in peacetime, to sea transport workers, to military seamen, and to pilots of shipborne aviation. There is also a Memorial Book containing the names of those who did not return from the sea. These include the crew of the nuclear submarine Kursk, pride of the Northern Fleet, which sank with the loss of all 118 on board in the Barents Sea in 2000 - Russia's worst peacetime naval disaster and a tremendous blow to national pride.

JAPAN

Hinomisaki  is a port town located at the north coast of Shimane Prefecture  facing  the Sea of Japan. The Izumo Hinomisaki Lighthouse stands on a steep and rocky cape and is the tallest lighthouse in Japan. The construction of the tower stated in 1900 by the Scottish engineer Richard Brunton and the Japanese engineer Yoshihiko Aya. Aya designed a building structure known as “double shell” resistant to earthquakes and the  44 m (145 ft) round stone tower  was first lit on April 1, 1903 during the Meiji Period. The lighthouse survived to the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, World War II air strikes and the Great Hanshin earthquake (or Kobe earthquake) in 1995. Electrified in 1918 and automated on March 31, 1974 the Hinomisaki Light receives many tourists daily attracted to the panoramic view of the Sea of Japan and the beautiful sunset seen from the upper gallery (over 150 steps). The former lighthouse keeper' cottage now houses a visitor center and a gift shop.

AUSTRALIA

Known for its treacherous reefs, rocks and weather, Cape Leeuwin is regarded by mariners as one of the most dangerous coastlines in the world. The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was first lit on December 1, 1896 to safely guide ships travelling to Australia’s eastern ports. It is mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse: the 39 m (128 ft) round limestone tower stands 56 meters (183 ft) above sea level and its light is visible for 26 nautical miles (or 48 km). 
Originally unpainted, the tower had the natural stone color of Tamala limestone, but was painted white in 2004. The lighthouse was totally manually operated until 1982 when it was converted to electricity replacing the clockwork mechanism & kerosene burner, one of the last in the world. It was automated in September 1992.
The lighthouse is located on the headland of Cape Leeuwin, the most south-westerly point on the mainland of the Australian Continent, near Augusta, in the state of Western Australia (34°22′27″S 115°08′09″E). It stands at the point where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. Guided tours are conducted daily at the lighthouse: after climbing 186 steps and seven floors on a metal spiral staircase it is possible to observe rock parrots, dolphins, fur seals and in season, whales. A visitor centre, café and retail shop are contained within the light station.

USA

Petit Manan Lighthouse is the second tallest light tower in Maine and is located on a small island off Petit Manan Point, near Milbridge (44°22′03″N 67°51′52″W). Locally known as 'tit Manan, the 119 ft (36 m) round granite tower was built in 1855 and its light has a range of 25 nautical miles.  The light station has a charming Victorian wood keeper's house, a brick fog signal house, an oil house, a boat house and an engine house.
Petit Manan Light was electrified in 1938 and automated in 1972. The light was out of service for two months in 2001 after a nor'easter damaged its submarine power cable; as a result it was converted to solar power later that year. The light station is part of the Petit Manan Wildlife Refuge, managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and is not open to the public.