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Volume 2, Issue 11, August 12, 2017
It has been a busy July catching up on several writing projects. Now that we are in August, I will once again be sending out two newsletters a month. There will be a few more issues with the recent articles section about historic sites near the Schubertiade Festival in Austria. That festival ends in October. This issue features two lighthouses of historical significance: one on the coastline of California, the other on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins 

Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes LighthouseThe Point Reyes Lighthouse stands on a rocky cliff on the Pacific Coast, approximately 30 miles northwest of San Francisco. Built in 1870, it warned mariners for 105 years of the dangerous conditions surrounding the Point Reyes Headlands, a 10-mile strip of land that juts out to sea. Ships faced the area's high winds, dense fog, and jagged cliffs as they sailed in and out of San Francisco Bay.

Construction for the lens and clockwork mechanism began in 1867 in France. The parts were shipped from France to San Francisco and taken to the Point Reyes location via ox-drawn carts. After reaching the destination, the parts had to be lowered half-way down the cliff, from 600 ft. to 300 ft. above sea level, so that the lighthouse would be below the fog and therefore visible to ships. Building a lighthouse on the edge of a cliff was a difficult process from construction to politics but the Point Reyes Lighthouse began operating on Dec. 1, 1870. When the U.S. Coast Guard installed an automated light in 1975, the lighthouse was retired after more than a century of service.

It has been under the care of the National Park Service since 1975 and is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore which contains more than 71,000 acres of protected lands from ranches to seaside cliffs, historic buildings, and structures including light and wireless stations. The Lighthouse Visitor Center has exhibits on marine life and historic photographs of shipwrecks. The observation deck outside the visitor center is a popular place for whale watching. In order to reach the lighthouse, visitors must descend stairs with roughly 300 steps. Even though there are plenty of rest stops along the way, visitors must climb the same stairs to return to the visitor center.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The tallest lighthouse in the United States is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse that warns mariners of a 12-mile sandbar known as Diamond Shoals, made more dangerous by colliding currents. The area's nickname, Graveyard of the Atlantic, stems from the numerous shipwrecks that have occurred there. The lighthouse standing today was first lit Dec.1, 1870, replacing the original lighthouse that was first lit in October, 1803 and torn down shortly after the new lighthouse was in operation.

Cape Hatteras LighthouseThe current lighthouse is roughly 198 feet tall from the bottom of the foundation to the top of the tower pinnacle and has had its daymark pattern of black and white stripes since 1873. Made of brick, it originally used a Fresnel lens but that was later replaced by a aero beacon. The beacon was moved to another tower in the 1930s due to problems of beach erosion but was moved back to the lighthouse in 1950 following beach improvements. The lighthouse was moved in 1999 due to further beach erosion and is 1,500 feet from the shoreline, the same distance it was in 1870. 

The lighthouse and outer buildings, collectively known as the Cape Hatteras Light Station, were transferred to the National Park Service in 1937. In addition to maintaining the lighthouse structure, they also manage the museum, visitor center, and various programs. The Coast Guard manages the automated light. The Cape Hatteras Light Station is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the nation's first national seashore. It includes three barrier islands, roughly 70 miles of the Outer Banks. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open from late April to Columbus Day in October for climbing the 257 steps to the balcony. The visitor center is open year-round.

Recent Articles...

Schubertiade and the Shoemaker's Workshop: Schuhmacher Museum

Schuhmacher Museum: Hohenems, AustriaThe Schubertiade is back in Hohenems, Austria during mid-July, offering an array of selections by prominent European composers, many of whom were contemporaries of Schubert. Within the Schubertiade Quarter of the small city are several museums. Some highlight the area’s music history and others focus on the local history which includes a shoemaker...Continue reading-->


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The Unicorn Tree
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins

A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –

The diary of a nineteenth-century woman –

And the special place that binds them…

For reviews, excerpts, and summary, see

Ghost story and maritime adventure...
Available at
Photo credits: Point Reyes Lighthouse: courtesy of NPS. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: courtesy of NPS. Schuhmacher Museum, Hohenems, Austria: courtesy of Schubertiade.

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2017 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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