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    Lighthouse Obsession

    As a child in approximately the 2nd grade, I remember seeing a film. Yes, remember when teachers actually showed films in class? It was called “Paddle to the Sea” and was based on a book by Holling C Holling. It begins when a lighthouse keeper finds a tiny wooden boat that had washed ashore.  He pulls it from the water and decides it would go great in his collection of boat models.  As he is working on restoring his find, he notices on the bottom, the words carved into the hull,” I am paddle to the sea, please put me back in the water”.  The story goes on to show the small boy carving the figure and tells a story of his dream to travel to the sea.  He does not see a possibility of that happening, so he creates the figure in the boat and sends him on the journey for him. 

    “Paddle to the Sea” is besought by various hazards on his journey.  He is bothered by sea gulls, checked out by a snake, used as refuge by a frog being chased by a large fish and endangered by a raging fire on the shore.  Once out into the open lake, he encounters his first ship, and is then frozen for the winter in the ice and under a blanket of snow.  After the spring thaw, he continues on his journey, through the spillway of a dam and is caught by a fisherman and pulled into a small boat.  He is released once the fisherman reads the message on the bottom and continues on to Detroit where the water is dirty and slushy from all of the garbage being pumped into the great lake.

    The next danger turns out to be Niagara Falls.  Paddle to the Sea successfully navigates the great falls, avoids being used for building material by a beaver and is caught again, this time by a small child who loses him when he decides to play with him in the lake.  As he continues on his journey he comes to the last obstacle where he must make it through the great locks at the same time avoiding the engines of the large ships that accompany him on this part of the voyage.  Once in the sea, he is again captured, this time in a fishing net and again released when the fisherman sees the inscription on the underbelly of the boat. 

    It is at this point in his journey, having now reached the sea, that he his pulled out of the waves by the lighthouse keeper.  The keeper takes him inside the residence and begins to restore him back to his former beauty before he sees the inscription asking to be put back into the water.  Even knowing that Paddle to the Sea has reached his ultimate destination, the keeper is intrigued at the possibilities and puts him once again back into the water.  No one will know how far he will travel but he has piqued the imagination of each of his captors including the keeper of the lighthouse by the sea.

    This story, although not specifically about lighthouses, is what awakened my love for the guiding lights.  It is second, only to my love of the ocean and the beauty that surrounds it.  Over the years, I have found that the lighthouse has become a symbol of the dedication and solitude of the keepers, a phallic symbol that is, mighty, erect and powerful, a safe haven guiding travelers into port and a religious symbol as a light or beacon guiding the lost to faith in more than one religion. For me, its fascination is in its history and in its beauty.  What other structure is valued for both its unique visual appeal, and its usefulness.    

    I was well into my Thirties when I started to collect “lighthouses”.  My first was a candleholder made by a direct marketing candle company.  I started searching stores and online for examples of these magnificent structures in whatever form was available.  I bought lamps, figurines, ornaments, pictures, jewelry, and any other items decorated by any lighthouse.  After a few years, I became a bit more discerning in my quest to own the fascinating beacons and bought only collectibles and no longer just anything with a lighthouse decoration.

    I also began planning trips and side trips to actually see real historic lighthouses.  My husband was born and raised in Rhode Island, so we frequently traveled there from our home in California and later Colorado.  It is there that I started to photograph them, any chance that I was able.  Today, I have photos of about 30 lighthouses.  These don’t even represent a fraction of the number of lighthouses that exist throughout the world.  All but one of my photos was taken in the United States.  The other is in Italy and probably not the best example but the only one I encountered on a trip I took in 2019 with my Mother. 




    This lighthouse was photographed at a tour bus stop in Southern Italy.  It is probably not the best example of an Italian Lighthouse, but it was the only one we encountered on this trip.










    Many of the photos in my collection were taken during the wintertime on a trip to northern Michigan.  I accompanied my husband on a work trip and we spent a few days exploring lakes Huron and Michigan and photographing these glorious structures in the cold. 





    This photo is Forty Mile Point Light located in Rogers Township, Michigan.  It was built in 1897 and is one of my favorites.  I used this photo to create a diamond painting that hangs in home.  It is spectacular and very special since it was printed on canvas in grid format. The colors were applied by myself and my family by attaching tiny crystals into the grid.










    This is the Cheboygan Crib Light on Lake Huron, in the town of Cheboygan. It was originally constructed in 1884. A small keepers house was added in 1897 but was removed when the crib was demolished.  The lighthouse was restored in 2001.











    This one  is Point aux Barques Light in Port   Hope, Michigan, built in 1848 and re-built after a fire in 1857. 









    And the unassuming Charlevoix South Pierhead  light, built in 1948 in Charlevoix, Michigan.












    This is the Mission Point Light built in 1870, also in Michigan.






    And another favorite, Old Mackinac Point Light in Mackinaw City, Michigan.  The one was built from 1889 to 1892. This was one of the first lighthouses we were able to view on our trip to Northern Michigan.  I was impressed  by its beauty as well as its accessibility. 








    As I mentioned above, my husband’s family is from the Providence Rhode Island area.  I have been able to photograph many of the Rhode Island lighthouses during our frequent trips to the area. The most recent are from two boat tours during June of 2019 that I enjoyed with my sister’s in law during a trip without my husband.  The others are from trips with Bob over the years.



    The Ponham Rocks Lighthouse was built in 1871.  I was able to photograph it from the East Bay Bike Path in East Providence








    Best seen by boat, the Conimicut lighthouse, built in 1883 can also be seen from Conimicut Point Park in Warwick, Rhode Island.  I love this view across the sand with the birds in the foreground.







    Beavertail Lighthouse protects the entrance to Narragansett Bay from the southernmost point of Conanicut Island.  It was built in Jamestown in 1856. 










    The Castle Hill Light is near the Castle Hill Inn.  Although the lighthouse is not open to the public, the grounds are.  The lighthouse can be viewed from the grounds, but it is much better to view this one from a boat. It was built in 1890.







    Rose Island is your chance to spend the night in a lighthouse built in 1870.  It is reached by a short ferry ride from Newport or Jamestown.  Rose Island Lighthouse is privately owned and maintained by the Rose Island Lighthouse foundation. 






    Another Rhode Island Lighthouse that is best seen by boat is the privately owned Hog Island Shoal Lighthouse in Portsmouth.  It is located in Narragansett Bay, west of the entrance to Mount Hope Bay. That is the Mount Hope Bridge in the background.







    Goat Island Light or Newport Harbor Light was built in 1842.  It is maintained by the American Lighthouse Foundation. 







    Over the years, I have traveled many times to Chicago on work trips, both mine and Bob’s. This is the Chicago Harbor Light built in 1893.  It was photographed from a harbor cruise boat.










    On a driving trip from New York to Rhode Island in 2015, we discovered and visited two easily accessible lighthouses in Connecticut.  The first is Stratford Point and Lighthouse in Stratford, established in 1822. 








    The second is a bit of a mystery.  We remember visiting but cannot find this one on the internet to identify it.  Perhaps you can help?







    Of course, who could miss the most recognized Lighthouse in the United States, also known as the Statue of Liberty.  She was gifted to the United States by France in the late 1800s and dedicated on October 28, 1886. 









    Last, but not least, we traveled to Canada, through Michigan in September of 2018.  On the way home, we were able to visit and photograph three lighthouses, two in Canada and one in Michigan.  The first is the Kincardine Lighthouse built in 1880 in Kincardine, Ontario, Canada. 










    The Point Clark Lighthouse was our last Canadian Stop.  This one was built in 1855 in Huron-Kinlass,Ontario, Canada.









    And finally, here is Michigan’s oldest lighthouse, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse at Port Huron.  This one was built between 1825 and 1829. 








    Not only does my obsession with lighthouses manifest in the photos that I take while on vacation but its also evident in the way my home is furnished and decorated.  The walls have lighthouse photos and paintings.  The décor consists of many figurines and lighthouse collectibles and my Christmas ornaments are all lighthouses.  Some of the Christmas ornaments even attach to the string of tree lights and light up themselves when the others are turned on. 

    By the way, this is not my only obsession.  Maybe someday I’ll tell you about one of the others.  My love for lighthouses is the easiest to illustrate since I have all of these photos.  I am not the best at picture taking but I am prolific.  I take a lot of photos.  That way I am sure to get a few good ones.  I hope you have enjoyed them. 



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