Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum recently opened the doors of its Hooper Strait Lighthouse to families who wanted to spend a weekend night much like the keepers of a century ago.
Built in 1879, the lighthouse now graces the museum's Navy Point campus once that lit the way past Hooper Strait, some 39 miles south of St. Michaels, Maryland. Known as a screwpile, cottage-style lighthouse, Hooper Strait resembles a small home that was built on special iron pilings that were literally screwed into the bay's soft bottom.
Slated for demolition in 1966, the museum purchased the building and moved it to its present site. Too large to be moved in one piece, it was horizontally cut in two just below the eaves and was slowly transported on two separate barges up the bay. The lighthouse was restored and the museum was opened to the public in 1967. It is one of only three such lighthouses still in existence on Chesapeake.
Several evenings in August were reserved for the would-be keepers, who were given a special tour of the 19th Century wooden structure. They performed tasks of a traditional keeper, enjoyed a picnic dinner, and slept inside the historic building overlooking the Miles River.
Overnighters did not seem to mind the absence of such modern amenities as running water and inside bathrooms or the fact that they had to bring their own sleeping pads and bags. “Spending a night in a lighthouse is an experience people never forget,” said Mary Ann Ray, the museum's head lighthouse keeper.
Children participating in the overnight program were required to be at least seven years old and it was required that there be at least one chaperone for every two children. Families were allowed to be joined by other families or individuals.
The cost of the overnight program was $35 for museum members and $41 for non-members. The fee covered program activities, a picnic dinner, and two days' admission to the entire museum.
For more information on next years program contact Rachel Rébert at (410) 745-2916, ext. 133 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story appeared in the
October 2004 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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