By Jennifer Hudson Taylor
One of our summer adventures landed us at the Georgetown Lighthouse in South Carolina. It is the state's oldest active lighthouse and stands 87 feet tall. Since 1986, the lights burn both day and night because it lacks a auto-mechanism. The town of Georgetown was established in 1732 during the colonial days and named for King George I of England.
Friday, August 20, 2010
8:34 AM Jennifer Hudson Taylor 5 comments
At one time, Georgetown exported more rice than any other port in the world. A light was needed to guide vessels between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic Ocean. Even though a local businessman donated a tract of land for the tower in 1789, government politics delayed the process and it wasn't until 1795 that the government bought a parcel of land for the tower. Construction didn't begin until 1799, it wasn't lit until two years later.
The lighthouse was built on North Island at the entrance of Winyah Bay and Georgetown. It was a 72-foot wooden structure. As you can imagine, it was demolished five years later by a storm. The first lantern was six feet in diameter and the beacon fueled by cheap whale oil.
The structure was rebuilt in 1812 at the same height, but this time made of brick and painted white. During the Civil War, the lighthouse was used as an observation tower by the Confederates until captured by the Union in May 1862.
It suffered severe damage throughout the Civil War and was rebuilt again in 1867 at 87-feet tall and is the current structure you see in the photos I've taken. At one time there was a 2-story white house for the light keeper and a white picket fence around it. The house and fence are now gone. Today it contains a 3500-candlepower light that is magnified through a 5th order Fresnal lens, visible up to 12 miles.
Personal Visit and TourLighthouses of the Carolinas: A Short History and Guide by Terrance Zepke