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Hunting Island Lighthouse Ghost

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30 years ago there was 100 feet of forest from the wood line to the beach and the high tide line. At low tide there was easily 1500 feet of beach to the water line. The beach is now covered with stumps that extend hundreds of yards out into the ocean.


It may be as early as 2005 when the ocean reaches the lighthouse base during a leap tide. One strong tropical storm will allow this to occur.


No, this was not a hurricane or a tornado that caused this destruction. It is called erosion. As you walk around the island you may find it ironic, as I do, that it is illegal to pick sea oats from the sand dunes because they control erosion. That is a silly and flawed argument in the case of Hunting Island. If this thick forest cannot hold back the Atlantic Ocean neither will sea oats.


The last good idea to stop the erosion was this concrete barrier at the North tip of the island. But that was built decades ago. It has been years since sand was moved back onto the beach.


Huge trees are no match for the mighty Atlantic ocean.


The water is drawing nearer Miss Lady!


The stairwell is made of iron not steel. Iron rusts and it rusts even faster when it is exposed to saltwater and salt-air. Thick layers of  black paint on the surfaces of the stairs are only hiding the iron that has rusted out the insides. Each step is literally worn out from the thousands of people that climbed the lighthouse each year. It isn't safe anymore.


This model of the lighthouse ground's is on display at the visitor's center. It appears to be an accurate reproduction of the original site. This is the house Miss Lady lived in.


The foundation of the house itself was recently rebuilt from new bricks during the past few years.


These are the original bricks that were part of the lightkeeper's house.


This photograph is one of the few available showing the house and lighthouse complex. Notice how the island was deforested.


If you have never climbed to the top, the view is spectacular. To the left you can see what is left of the saltwater marsh in the late 1990's. This marsh use to flow directly into the sea and it was actually a lagoon that would rise and fall with the tides. In the late 1980's it became cutoff and became overgrown with vegetation. Now, in 2004, it is nearly full of trees! It is amazing how fast the topography can change.



National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000


The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 (NHLPA), 16 U.S.C. 470w-7, an amendment to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, provides a mechanism for the disposal of federally-owned historic light stations.

NHLPA recognizes the cultural, recreational, and educational value associated with historic light station properties by allowing these to be transferred at no cost to federal agencies, tribes, state and local governments, nonprofit corporations, educational agencies, and community development organizations. These entities must agree to comply with conditions set forth in NHLPA, and be financially able to maintain the historic light station. The eligible entity to which the historic light station is conveyed must make the station available for education, park, recreation, cultural or historic preservation purposes for the general public at reasonable times and under reasonable conditions.

Only those light stations that are listed, or determined eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places, can be conveyed under this program. The nomination for listing, or determination of eligibility, is prepared by the USCG following guidelines set forth in 36 CFR 60.9(c) and 36 CFR 63 respectively, as part of their responsibilities prior to the property being transferred to the GSA inventory for disposal. Light stations that are not eligible for listing will be disposed of through other processes.

Administering NHLPA involves several federal and state agencies that play different roles in transferring surplus historic light stations to new owners:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and other federal agencies, identify and report historic light stations to be excessed through the NHLPA process. These agencies also make available condition reports, maintenance records and related documentation on these properties to the other agencies involved in the process as well as to prospective applicants.

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