Treasured Coastal Beacons


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Oh Lighthouse, standing a solitary soldier at the edge of the shore.  Bravely enduring the gale winds, as you sound your horn in the foggiest of nights. Your beacon signals to the lowly ships tossed at sea leading men home safely.

Oh Lighthouse you are legendary for your beauty and romance.  You are unparalleled for your aid in guiding boats and ships that have sailed the oceans, lakes and seas.

How can we let you slip from our history each of you with your own personality?  A story to be heard from each lighthouse of the keepers that dedicated themselves to the safety of the seafarer.   Men that knew each lighthouse in the dark of night by the code that kept the mariner informed of his position on the coastline.

You were first only a bonfire on the hillsides to act as a guide to ships.  The first light served the Old World City of Alexandria in 285 BC. The first North American light shown at Boston Harbor in 1716.  Up and down the coastlines of our shores sentinels guided men to land.  Our history is rich in the legends and lore of the lighthouses and the respect they acquired as trusted allies to the mariner.

By the 1900's the Fresnel lens was in use in your lofty towers.  It was as ingenious in its design as it was in the painstaking to make.  The lens really an elaborate orchestration of many lens and dozens of prisms set precisely to defuse the light that would be seen miles out to sea.

Hear the footsteps on the stairs.  Scores upon scores of stairs that encircled the tower that the keeper needed to climb in order to light the beacon.  Not once a day but over and over this trip was made as a series of weights similar to those in a grandfather clock had to be wound at intervals to keep the light turning.

Each lighthouse lamp was set at a specific time so that a sailor could count the seconds between the flashing lights.  In the darkness the sentinels of light told the mariners what shore the ship was close to and what dangers lay ahead.   Knowing the precautions that were needed to sail around the rocky shores the vessel could be brought to port unharmed.

Time has left many of you abandoned. The new technologies of our world have diminished your purpose. What person flailed in the harsh stormy waters would not welcome the sight of your light letting them know that the warmth of a hearth was close at hand? Your era has gone by but we owe it to you to preserve your towers.  Shall we never forget the faithfulness you gave others, never letting your light be extinguished.

Oh Lighthouse stand tall and proud, look out over the waters that can be calm one minute and raised into a rage of  fierce waves the next.  You stood your ground and hailed your presence to those surrounded by only water.  Your beacon shines in the hearts of the many that you guided home and in those of their loved ones that waited on shore for their safe return.


                                            Cheryl C. Helynck


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