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July 22nd, 2006
Old Cape Henry Lighthouse stands on the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. It was build in 1791, and stands on Fort Story, an Army base located just only a mile or two from the Heart of Virginia Beach. A lot is known about the lighthouse. A contract and documents were found, signed by Alexander Hamilton which talked about specifics of design of the lighthouse and keepers house. The first keeper was Laban Goffigan of Norfolk, and original fuel was fish oil. The lighthouse is 90' high to the light; not including the light. and 6-7 hundred yards to the beach originally (may have some encroachment now so might be a little less. Eventually, some 60 years later, the wood staircase was replaced to stone. The lantern, was completely redone in 1841. The lantern was equipped with 18 lamps with brass burners and fitted with oil Heaters and 18 21" reflectors on three tiers of circles. and in 1857, the lights were improved again, with a "Dioptric Fresnel lens". During a report in June of 1851, cracks were noted in the foundation and a new lighthouse to be built suggested. It was only in 1878 that a new one was approved, even though annual reports suggested the same. and 350 feet southeast from the old tower, a new lighthouse was built at the cost of 75,000 dollars. The last keeper of the old lighthouse, Jay D Edwards, lit the light in the new lighthouse December 15th, 1881, 90 years after the last lighthouse had been built. The old lighthouse was kept, because it served as a day mark and for triangulation for coast surveys. It may be around August of 1930 when they opened the lighthouse for public viewing. I am not sure of that, but there is a document by Congress that lists it as "historic interest".
Interesting facts: I noted graffiti (OLD graffiti from WWII, and Civil War era) where people or soldiers etches names or dates (not much but a handful). Some of the stone is eroded. Light visibility is 15 miles. During the Civil War, the beacon was broken by invaders.
Cost is now 4.00 for adults to go up in the lighthouse. Visit official site for days/hours of operation and other pricing. There is a small gift shop there; there are no food places in the area. Since the base is military, civilians are not allowed at the convenience store I don't think... I did not note bathrooms. Guards patrol the beach. I am not sure if civilians are allowed on the beach, but it's possible. There are no water fountains but there is a machine which dispenses water for 1.25 a bottle.
Left to right: 1) Old Cape Henry Lighthouse from Road 2) Base of Lighthouse 3) Looking up 4) View of Old Cape Henry Lighthouse from New Cape Henry Lighthouse 5) Another look up at the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse
Lighthouse: 1) Fence honoring the dead at Fort Story from the Iraq conflict/Old Keepers House (?) 2) Down the stairs inside the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse 3) View from inside top of Cape Henry Lighthouse of Fort Story 4)View of ocean from inside top of Old Cape Henry Lighthouse and 5) Amphibious Assault Vehicle
Informative or interesting links: