Sunday, August 28, 2016

Lighthouse Dreams

After our visit to Cedar Island Lighthouse I was inspired to create a book on the ZNO photo book site. I had used it before for Hugh's book. Sadly, they have discontinued the board book format, which I liked, but I ordered 10 copies of a soft cover version and hoped for the best.
The books arrived. Upon turning open the front cover there was a blank white page. This looked weird. The space needed something. The paper was grainy kind of like watercolor paper.... Oh, hello ~ a perfect place for a watercolor sketch.
During our recent American Beautify cruise I had my first view of the lighthouse from the water. The harbor view helped me better appreciate the sketch that Tooker did of the lighthouse which was my watercolor sketch inspiration. 
Cedar Lighthouse, 1869 drawing by William Wallace Tooker
collection of Nancy Carlson
Long Island Historical Journal, Vol. 19, Nos. 1-2, pp. 143
William Wallace Tooker sketched the new lighthouse being built on Cedar Island from Cedar Point in 1869 nearly 70 years before the hurricane that would force sand into a bar that would fill in the 200 yard gap between Cedar Island and the mainland. 
1904 map of Shelter Island and Sag Harbor via
I was recently chatting with a third generation Sag Harbor resident about visiting the lighthouse at Cedar Point. I mentioned that it was a shame that vandals had burned the interior of the light house, he said,"That's what they say," with raised eyebrows, he then said,"Locals don't go there." I asked why. His response, "Thousands died in the hurricane of '38. The water came up to the roof of the lighthouse. A huge wave built a sand bar out to the lighthouse from the mainland in less than an hour. The place is haunted." I looked at the story teller with raised brows. He continued, " I didn't really believe it, until I heard that visitors at the Cedar Point camp ground were seeing weird lights around the lighthouse. They say that if you see lights in the lighthouse window, three days later you will die. I know they are trying to restore it, but no local will work there. It IS haunted."
Haunted lighthouse? Wow! When I told Hugh the story, he said, "What ELSE would campers talk about? Ghost stories around the camp fire!" I did have to laugh. The next thing I did was look for information on the 1938 hurricane. Mary Cummings, a curator at the Southampton Historical Society has written a book, "Hurricane in the Hamptons, 1938". I picked it up at Harbor Books in Sag Harbor.

The hurricane of 1938 hit in September, Fifty two souls were lost, mostly residents of West Hampton. West Hampton and Montauk suffered the worst. The Cedar Island Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1934. There was no lighthouse keeper there during the hurricane. 
The fire that forced them to close up the lighthouse? According to the U.S. Lighthouse site, Suffolk county was trying to secure the site in June of 1974 by welding plates onto the doors and windows. A  spark from the welders torch started a fire and due to the isolated location fire department help arrived too late to save the interior of the building and the roof. Afterwards the sad discovery was made that no one at the county insured the property. Boarded up since 1974 it is no wonder that the lighthouse has been the subject of local ghost stories.
At the end of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor there is a coin operated set of binoculars.
For 25 cents you can get a look at Cedar Island Lighthouse without leaving shore.
I put my phone up to one of the eye rests.

Fundraising for the lighthouse restoration is ongoing. New York State recently awarded the project $300 thousand towards an expected $2 million completion cost. Once the lighthouse is restored it is expected to house a bed and breakfast. Income from this would pay for its maintenance. Wouldn't this be a cool place to go on retreat with swimsuit, paints and easel? The Execution Rocks lighthouse in Long Island Sound near Sands Point was renovated as a bed and breakfast and is available here, This renovation gives you an idea how Cedar Point Light night turn out. The Execution Rocks lighthouse is reputed to be haunted and was featured in an episode of Ghost Adventures on the Travel Chanel. 
I haven't read A Light Between Oceans yet by M. L. Stedman, but I think I will need to. The trailer for the new movie coming out with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander looks very good.



  1. What a wonderful idea to create the book! And, the water color sketch......thank goodness for that blank first page :) Thank you for sharing about Cedar Island Lighthouse.

  2. I was going to ask where you got the cool paper:) How wonderfully the space worked out!
    Great idea..and I love your work..
    I was married June 74;)
    We have a haunted place here also:)


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