For the last four years, the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge has faced several uncontrollable obstacles, including continually increasing gas prices and some unpleasant weather (including a wayward tropical storm a couple of years ago) but has persevered through it all. But as the past generations of light keepers had to brave wind and weather, so did the volunteers for all of the participating lighthouse organizations and, of course, the challengers themselves! This year Mother Nature cooperated, and the Chesapeake Bay region enjoyed a perfect weekend with abundant sunshine.
What is the Lighthouse Challenge? The challenge is to visit each of nine land-based lighthouses and one lightship over the course of the weekend. Upon visiting each site, you are rewarded with a “souvenir” commemorating your visit. The event takes you from the shores of Chesapeake Bay through the inner harbor of Baltimore to the Potomac River, with the lights guiding you all the way.
The diversity of the lights themselves provides a wonderful journey across the history of the lighthouse service and of Maryland’s maritime history. From the conical Piney Point Light to the Cape Cod-style Point Lookout, there are lights of every shape and size. There are even three of the old screwpile lights and a lightship featured, as well. Karen Rosage, a member of the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society and chairperson of this fifth annual Maryland Lighthouse Challenge, sums it up best: “The Chesapeake Chapter takes such pride each year showing off our beloved Bay Beacons.”
So just how big was this year’s event? “I can tell you that we have exceeded last year’s numbers in both visitations and finishers. Plus, we added two cruises this year to help celebrate the fifth anniversary and they were well attended and very successful as well,” Karen added. The cruises that Karen spoke of were very special events. The cruises left Annapolis on the Friday before the event and went out to the Thomas Point Shoal Light, the last remaining screwpile lighthouse in its original location on the bay.
Of course many lighthouse “celebrities” at several locations also attended the event. Among those was Bill Younger, co-founder of Harbour Lights, was signing special Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse replicas at the Calvert Marine Museum, home of the Drum Point Lighthouse and Donna Elias, the talented artist and painter, was stationed at the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse at Baltimore Inner Harbor.
The Lighthouse Challenge is a special and unique event; it takes one part history, one part passion, and one part awareness and combines then into one great, fun event. It raises funds for the preservation of these noble towers and provides the atmosphere to create tomorrow’s lighthouse enthusiasts. I hope that you plan on taking part in one of next year’s challenge events in Long Island, Maine, Maryland, or New Jersey. Are you up for the challenge? I know I am!
This story appeared in the
November 2007 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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