Celebrating National Lighthouse Day 2020

By Shalana Millard

It’s August 7: one of my favorite days of the year. What’s so special about it? It’s National Lighthouse Day; the day the United States has designated annually, to celebrate the history, power and magic of lighthouses.

My capture of Concord Point lighthouse in Havre de Grace, Maryland on September 29 2018.

As an avid lover of lighthouses, I think of the history and stories they hold. I think of the keepers that occupied lighthouses, maintained them and helped ensure they were a beacon of safety for mariners. Each lighthouse has its own unique story to tell.

During my first visit to Hooper Straight lighthouse on the grounds of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s Maryland in 2017, I was drawn to a poster that explained that due to the danger every year from winter ice, women and children were not allowed to live at Hooper Strait; they could visit for two weeks during the summer. I wondered what it may have been like for a married keeper at Hooper Strait, to live without their family for a majority of the year, knowing they would only see them for two weeks.

September 29, 2017- I captured this poster inside Hooper Strait lighthouse that explained due to the dangers from winter ice, women and children could not live at the lighthouse, but could visit two weeks in the summer.

When I think of the stories lighthouses hold, I think of Anna Weems Ewalt, who was born in Drum Point lighthouse on July 13, 1906. (During my visit to Drum Point on September 22, 2014, they had a tribute to Anna on one of the walls.) I wondered what it was like for her parents to bring a child into the world inside a lighthouse.

Drum Point lighthouse honors the woman who was born inside the lighthouse on July 13, 1906.

As I contemplate the stories lighthouses hold, I also think of the physically demanding job of being a keeper. I think of the oil canister that was on display during my first visit to Absecon lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 20, 2013, and how my mind wondered how a lighthouse keeper would have managed to carry a heavy oil canister up 228 steps in order to maintain the light.

September 20, 2013- I captured this oil canister on display inside Absecon lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Whether you’re fascinated by the beauty and romance of lighthouses, or the stories of the keepers who lived in and maintained them, find a reason to celebrate lighthouses not just on today, National Lighthouse Day, but every day!

Leave a comment in this post to let me know how you’ll be celebrating lighthouses. Are you planning to visit one as lighthouses begin to re-open safely, with protocols in place, during the global pandemic?


Lighthouses: All Shapes And Sizes, But One Common Purpose

Today is National Lighthouse Day.  And as I do this time every year, I like to reflect on the lighthouse experiences I’ve had thus far.  And scroll through my library of lighthouse photos and videos I’ve taken.

Tonight, I’ve been revisiting pictures I took on September 19, 2015,  during a boat cruise of 10 lighthouses along the Chesapeake in Maryland.

Sharps Island Lighthouse

Baltimore Lighthouse

Craighill Channel Lower Rear Lighthouse

Craighill Channel Lower Front Lighthouse

As I’ve looked through these pictures, I was reminded of one timeless truth: lighthouses come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  But they’ve all served a common purpose.

It is a lesson that we as humans would do well to remember.


National Lighthouse Day

Annually, National Lighthouse Day is celebrated on August 7 in honor of United States lighthouses.

On August 7, 1789, Congress approved an act “for the establishment and support of lighthouse, beacons, buoys, and public piers.”

Read the text of the original act here:

In honor of National Lighthouse Day, take a journey back with me to some of the lighthouses I have visted over the course of almost three years.

I will always have a special affinity for Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is the first lighthouse I ever visited and climbed.

Absecon is the tallest lighthouse in the Garden State, and the third tallest in the United States.

I first visited there in September 2013.

Above: My nighttime view of Absecon Lighthouse on Septmeber 19, 2013.

Above: September 20, 2013 at Absecon Lighthouse- I could barely contain my excitement as I spent my birthday climbing a lighthouse for the first time.

Since 2013, I have made it a point to try to visit Absecon Lighthouse once a year.

In 2014, I returned to Absecon to celebrate another birthday there.

I was not able to visit in 2015, but look forward to a return visit this year. As the wonderful staff at Absecon are fond of saying: “228 steps- one amazing journey.”

On September 22, 2014 I visted Drum Point Lighthouse in Solomon, Maryland. Drum Point is one of the few remaining screw pile, cottage style lighthouses in Maryland.

Above: Listening to the tour guide give a talk about Drum Point Lighthouse, from the room that houses the fourth-order fresnel lens.

What I love most about Drum Point Lighthouse, is the sense it gives you of how families actually lived there. Inside you will find replicas of living quarters, including bedrooms, a kitchen and dining room. On one of the walls is a tribute to Anna Weems Ewalt, who was born inside Drum Point on July 13, 1906.

In 2015, I wanted to experience lighthouses in a way I had not before.

On Septmeber 19, I boarded the MV Sharps Island boat for a tour of 10 lighthouses along the Chesapeake Bay.

As the boat approached each lighthouse, CAPT Mike would stop the boat long enough to talk about the lighthouse and allow us time to take pictures.

One of my favorite lighthouses that day, was Thomas Point Lighthouse, our second stop on the tour.

Other personal favorites for me that day, were the Baltimore Lighthouse (currently undergoing renovation), and the Pooles Island Lighthouse.

The day after my boat tour, I visted the Cove Point Lighthouse in Lusby, Maryland.

Cove Point is stil an active aide to navigation. As such, you can stand at the base of the lighouse and look up the spiral staircase. But you cannot go to the top of the lighthouse.

Each lighthouse experience is unique. You come away with different information and lessons learned, and thankful for each opportunity to experience lighthouses in a different way. I am looking forward to new lighthouse experiences in the weeks ahead.

Happy National Lighthouse Day!