Tuesday, August 5, 2008
A beacon of light
I arrived in St. Augustine yesterday and went to a social at the lighthouse last night. It is a wonderful lighthouse and has been restored, along with the keeper's house. I climbed the 219 steps to a spectacular view of the surrounding maritime forest, beach and ocean. I watched the spoonbills fly to their rookery over the alligator preserve. And the sailboats at anchor made a nice backdrop.
One of the things that is particularly sad about the lighthouse is that in 1986, the first order Fresnel lens was shattered by bullets from a high powered rifle. According to the docent, a 14 year old boy, high on drugs, took his father's hunting rifle and shot at the light. Bullets shattered nineteen prisms in the historic lens. A grant was obtained eventually to restore the prisms. So as the lighthouse keeper said, the knowledge gained from restoration of the lens has helped others in their restoration of Fresnel lenses.
So with a lot of effort by local preservationists, the old beacon still shines and projects pure white light. I'm glad that the effort was made and that a part of history was preserved.