July 30, 2014

Pt. Judith light RI

The light and coast guard station at Pt. Judith RI stands at the west entrance to Naragansett Bay. First built in 1810 and rebuilt multiple times following storms this important landmark guides shipping traffic east towards the Bay and west towards Long Island sound. Detailed history here.

In 1857 this octagonal tower was built and fitted with a fourth order fresnel lens which is still in place today. In 2000 Coast Guard architect Marsha Levy directed a renovation of the light which was competed by Campbell Construction.

photograph copyright 2014 George Hutchinson

July 28, 2014

Gilbert Stuart Birthplace historic site RI

 Birthplace of possibly the most famous portrait artist America has known Gilbert Stuart in Saunderstown RI. The portrait on the one dollar bill of George Washington has been seen by millions of people worldwide.

On the left a restored/rebuilt snuff mill with living quarters in the upper floors and the mill in basement. The building on the right is a re-created  grist mill used to grind native grown corn into corn meal using granite grindstones.

photographs copyright 2014 George Hutchinson
This view shows the restored spillway constructed of native stone. In the background is the undershot water wheel that powers the snuff mill.

The snuff mill building has a small collection of reproductions of Stuart's paintings. Originals hang in the National Gallery and other museums.

Guided tours the buildings and grounds are provided by a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the history of the site and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

July 24, 2014

Beavertail Light Jamestown RI

 Beavertail Light (click for complete history) located on the southern tip of Connanicut Island is the third oldest light in the US built in 1749. The original wooden tower designed by Architect Peter Harrison burned, was rebuilt and later destroyed by retreating British troops. In this view you can see the 45 ft granite light tower built in 1856 with the smaller fog signal building on the left and the keeper's quarters on the right.

The fog signal building has been re-purposed as an aquarium with RI DEM naturalist tours offered during the summer months. The restored keeper's quarters are a museum of the history of the light station run by the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association. The grounds are open to the public including the restored base of the original wooden tower which stands just to the south of the current buildings on the exposed rocky ledge.
The US Coast Guard maintains the light and fog signal as an aid to navigation. The distinctive architecture is a group of simple square or rectangular white painted masonry structures with recessed openings and red shingle roofs. The tower is made from interlocking granite blocks with a black metal lantern. The light is a 7 sec. period single white counterclockwise rotating beacon. The original 3rd order fresnel lens is on display in the museum.

photographs copyright 2014 George Hutchinson

July 20, 2014

Lift Lock Peterborough ON

Downstream view of the historic 19.8 m vertical rise lift-lock located in Peterborough ON. Built in 1904 this is the world's highest hydraulic lift lock, one of only 7 built worldwide.

The left side lock basin is in the down position even with the surface of the water. You can see the supporting trusses on either side adjacent to the un-reinforced concrete piers. On the right you can see the elevated lock basin with the steel containment bulkhead on the downstream end. The trusses are centered on a vertical steel ram that supports each basin.

The two rams are controlled by a valve that transfers water from one ram to the other allowing simultaneous descent of the basin on the right with elevation of the basin on the left. Tons of water and boat are precisely balanced on each side (boat displacement = weight of water displaced) allowing the entire structure to ride easily in the vertical guides even if there is a boat in only one of the two basins.

The lock operates twice daily at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm and occasionally at 3:00 pm
2 hour sightseeing cruises are available Victoria Day through Labour Day. (May through September)

photograph copyright 2014 George Hutchinson

July 19, 2014

St. Joseph MI North Pier outer and inner lighthouses

Benton Harbor Michigan also known as the St. Joseph North Pier Lighthouse outer cast iron and inner steel lights located on the north jetty. The outer light has part of the lantern catwalk missing possibly from storm damage. According to a local resident Lake Michigan froze over during the winter of 2013/4 resulting in much less wave action along these structures than when the lake remains open.

The lights are connected by an elevated iron framework that used to have an elevated catwalk deck and guardrails. This walkway allowed lighthouse tenders to get to the light structures without risking a traverse of the icy surface of the jetty itself. Both lights are operational and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

2009 winter photo

photograph copyright 2014 George Hutchinson