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Campbell Island Lighthouse

Campbell Island Lighthouse

Campbell Island is located nine miles to the south of Wilmington in North Carolina. There are vast wetlands in the region. The island is approximately 203 acres. It has been owned by the Trask family for over 40 years now. The family has maintained the island and it remains undeveloped. During World War II, the island was used as a bombing range. Aviators used the island to train and it is a former military bombing range. The bombs used at the time did not contain explosives. This means the island poses no risk to human health.

“Airplanes used it for bombing practice. The ordnance typically used is small arms and practice bombs. They didn’t carry explosive charges, just spotting charges for visual confirmation,” - from Ray Livermore, an environmental engineer @ Wilmington Corps of Engineers.

The Campbell Island Lighthouse is located in Wilmington in North Carolina. It was first lit in 1849 and carries a lot of history. It is preserved by the United States Lighthouse Society. Lighthouses appeal to nostalgic and artistic senses. A lot of architectural detail is put into constructing one. They are like monuments to design and engineering. Some of the architectural geniuses include:

  • Spiral staircases
  • Hewn rock foundations
  • Ornate water spouts
  • Sloping conical towers
  • Detailed window trimmings

History

In March 1849, the Senate ordered the construction of the following structures:

  • Lighthouses
  • Light-boats
  • Buoys
  • Cone

The whole project was estimated at $3,382. The Senate assigned $3,500 to the project. It was to be completed by 10th January next year. Several keepers were hired to maintain the grounds. They earned a salary of $350. Some of them were:

  1. John Craig. Craig was hired in 1850. He worked at the Campbell Island Lighthouse until 1853.
  1. Hosea Williams. He worked for a year and left in 1854.
  1. William Woodward. William held on to the post for the rest of the year in 1854.
  1. Basil Jackson. He worked at the lighthouse until 1860.
  1. F. W. Savage. He worked at the lighthouse from 1860 until the lighthouse was discontinued in 1861.

In 1867, the buildings at the Campbell Island light station were completely destroyed. This was a result of the war at the time. Instead of rebuilding, a solution was recommended. They would build a screw pile light-house on the shoal. It was to be located in the river’s channel just above Campbell Island. A statement was submitted for this project. Unfortunately, the station was not re-established until the 1870s.

Cape Fear River

Campbell Island is located in the Cape Fear River. The river is used for transportation and gaining access to the island. The waters can at times be dangerous and navigation at night is difficult. The narrow channel and wide river and where the course changes, shoals drop from both banks. It makes it almost impossible to navigate, especially with no source of light. To re-establish the light would make the river safe for travel at night.

Since the previous lighthouse was completely destroyed, a new one was to be built. In 1873, $15,000 was appropriated for the project. It was to establish a lighthouse near or on Campbell Island. This is the Campbell Island Lighthouse that stands today.

The Keepers

Each lighthouse depended on the maintenance by a keeper. Someone was put in charge of maintaining the lighthouse. They were in charge of a number of activities, including;

  • Trimming the wicks every four hours. They had to be cut evenly to ensure the flame had a uniform shape.
  • Cleaning glass chimneys

The keepers were given a set of instructions on how to operate the lighthouse. These instructions varied on whether the lighthouse had one keeper or more. Some of these instructions were;

  1. Lamps were lit at sunset and put out at sunrise.
  2. Be present at the station both at night and during the day. A keeper only left their station with permission from the district inspector.
  3. Take note of when the light is turned on and off.
  4. Ensure the lantern was well ventilated
  5. Take care of other assets at the lighthouse, including utensils, stores and apparatus.
  6. Take note of vessels that pass through the lighthouse. They wrote down the time and, if possible, the name and make of the vessel.

Oil was first used to fuel the lighthouse before the lamp was replaced with an electric one. This happened in 1938. The new lamp was powered using a local diesel generator. The light was later, in the 60s, connected to the main grid. It became fully automated in 1986. The light’s management was transferred to a control room in Wellington - Wikipedia

The United States Lighthouse Society

This is a nonprofit organization with a key interest in all lighthouses in America. It is a historical preservation society for lighthouses in the United States. It is dedicated to the educational and historical aspects of lighthouses. The organization informs, educates, and entertains people with an interest in historical structures.

A lot of the discontinued lighthouses are now used as museums and bed and breakfast inns. The historical importance of the structures is slowly being disregarded. The United States Lighthouse Society aims to preserve these structures for future generations. They work to return them back to the public domain, and in the process raise their importance in future generations.

The organization has received numerous awards for its commendable work. It supports projects to restore lighthouses all over the country. In recognition of its efforts, the organization has received the following awards;

  • California Governor’s Historic Preservation Award
  • The Preserve America Steward Award by the White House
  • Senate Rules Committee Commendation
  • U.S Department of Transportation Award for Outstanding Public Service and Historic Preservation
  • The prestigious Holland Award by the American Lighthouse Council

Campbell Island Lighthouse is an example of the rich history of the region. It is incredible how, despite the area being bombed to rubble, the lighthouse somehow survived. It was destroyed, but due to its importance and need in the region, had to be reconstructed.

This place is for Publicity

This place is for Publicity

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