About Me

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I worked as a tour guide for two summers at the Umpqua River Lighthouse in Oregon. This opportunity enabled me to learn more about that lighthouse than any of the others I've seen. Although I have personally visited and photographed over 300 lighthouses in the United States and three Provinces in Canada, the Umpqua River Lighthouse has special meaning for me. All pictures posted in this blog were taken by me, unless noted otherwise. The Umpqua River Lighthouse is where I was inspired to write my book titled, "The Wickie."

Book Info.

I invite you to read my book, "THE WICKIE." Preview the book's cover and watch the trailer below.
(Wickie was a nickname used by the early lighthouse keepers at the Umpqua River Lighthouse in OR.)

This 1860's story about the lighthouse keepers and their families at the Umpqua River Lighthouse will warm your heart. Discover the challenges they met but never expected, and their determination to maintain navigational aid to mariners on the Oregon coast.

To order your signed copy of "The Wickie", send me an e-mail: awbates1955@gmail.com. The Book is $15 plus tax and shipping.

My book is also available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Use the Tabs below for links to these websites. At their website, click on books - In the Search area enter The Wickie.

30 June 2016

The Ghost of New London Ledge

New London Ledge Lighthouse is located between New London and Groton, CT where the Thames River meets the waters of Fishers Island Sound. Rather than the typical spark-plug design lighthouse of the early 1900s for this area, Ledge Light turned into more of a mansion on the water. Styled in French Second Empire, this very ornate structure was built in 1909. It features five floors, eleven rooms, and a roof with two slopes on all sides. The lower slope is nearly vertical and the upper is almost horizontal. Its corners face the four cardinal compass points. This lighthouse has stood sentinel and guided early century tall ships and modern submarines between the shores of New London and Groton. Ledge Light Lighthouse was the last manned light in Long Island Sound until its automation in 1989.

At the time of my visit here in 2001, tours to the lighthouse run from mid-June to Labor Day and were two and a half hours long. As part of the tour, folks learned about Ernie the Ghost. The story was his wife ran away with a tugboat captain. Her unfaithfulness left Ernie so distraught that he stuck himself with a knife and jumped off the top of the lighthouse. Legend has it, Ernie’s been ambling around for quite some time and his domain is the New London Ledge Lighthouse.

This lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is like no other lighthouse.

23 June 2016

Water Can Change Lives

Some of you who follow my blog know I live in Texas. The later part of the month of May and first part of June this year, we experienced several inches of rain in my area but had no flooding at my house. Meanwhile, many folks in Texas were not as fortunate. Some experienced flooding inside their homes while other folks homes became unlivable. Worst of all, some homes were washed away and if that wasn’t enough hardship for folks to bear, some lost family members to include pet(s). 

About now you may be asking yourself what has this to do with lighthouses. Watching the news and videos of the flood disasters around Texas, reminded me of another flooding situation I learned of a few years ago while visiting a lighthouse in northern California.

The lighthouse is Battery Point Lighthouse at Crescent City, CA. It was built in 1856 and continues as an active light in spite of surviving a tsunami in 1964. The keepers at the time, a man and his wife, watched from the lighthouse on the hill as the twenty foot wall of water swept onto shore. They reported watching the city’s buildings, cars, boats, and other items as they were being tossed about, as well as seeing explosions light up the sky. The keepers survived the tsunami, however, eleven people in Crescent City were killed, several boats and many homes destroyed. This is another example of flooding and devastation mankind has encountered.

At the time of my visit here in 1999, signs were posted along the main highway near Crescent City, warning everyone of possible tsunami in the area. To access the small island where the lighthouse sets, one must walk on the rocky ocean bottom at low tide over to the island. (Picture below). For a moment during my walk across there, I had an uncomfortable feeling when I remembered those signs.

America has survived many hardships through the years, and we continue to face them daily, some greater than others, but hope and vision help us want to survive.
In 1968 the lighthouse was replaced by a light on the jetty but the lighthouse remains in operation as a private aid to navigation. This lighthouse also serves as a museum with historical displays. The county Historical Society became responsible for operation of the lighthouse in 1969, and they provide live-in curators who take care of the light and museum.

16 June 2016

One Of The Many Intriguing Stories

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport, OR was built in 1873. Its 93-feet tower is the tallest of any on the Oregon coast, holding the light to a height of 162-feet above sea level. The light from its first order Fresnel lens is visible from 19-miles out to sea.

Many lighthouses have an intriguing ghost story connected to them and for years The Yaquina Head lighthouse was one of those. I visited this lighthouse and would like to share its ghost story.  – The lighthouse keeper supposedly got drunk and fell down the spiral stairway and broke his neck. After that his coworker refused to go near the stairway at night in fear of again running into an image of the deceased keeper.
Like any ghost story about a lighthouse, the more it’s told over time, the more it may be believed. After this story circulated for many years, officials for the lighthouse were convinced the story is untrue. But do all those who have heard the story believe it to be untrue?

09 June 2016

When Your Eyes Deceive, Your Imagination Can Take Over

The Pointe Vicente Lighthouse, built in 1926, is located at Rancho Palos Verdes west of Long Beach, CA. This lighthouse towers more than 65-feet above a cliff that drops more than 100-feet straight down to the Pacific Ocean. The classic masonry tower holds a 1.1 million-candlepower light that can be seen from twenty miles out to sea.

During World War II the light was dimmed to avoid giving aid to Japanese submarines which threatened shipping along the coast. After the war, the light was returned to normal power and local residents complained about the bright flashes. Therefore, the landward side of the lantern room was painted an opaque, pearly white. The light from the rotating third-order Fresnel lens could be seen through the opaque lantern room windows which created the illusion, for some people, of a woman pacing the tower’s walkway and she became known as “Lady of The Night” and maybe started another lighthouse ghost story. Some people said the ghost was the spirit of a woman who leaped into the sea when her lover was lost in a shipwreck off the point. Others claimed the ghost was the broken-hearted wife of a lighthouse keeper who had fallen to his death from the point’s high bluffs. Sightings of the ghost ended in 1955 after officials had a thicker coat of paint applied to the landward side of the lantern room. I learned this story when I visited the lighthouse in 1999.

This story reminded me of a personal experience I had as a young boy around the age of ten or eleven. I was staying with my grandparents to help them on the farm. From their house, the driveway was about three tenths of a mile long out to the main road. A portion of the driveway was lined with trees and small bushes while fence posts were also visible at the edge of an adjoining field. I was asked to go pick-up the mail from the box at the end of the driveway. It was late in the afternoon and by the time I got the mail and started back to the house it was later than dusk. Suddenly, I saw a man moving at the edge of the bushes. I became afraid and walked faster, keeping my eyes on the man as I got closer. I could feel my heart beating and I felt warm all over. Soon my eyes focused on him in the dim light. My heart and soul felt relief when suddenly I realized it was not a man, but just a fence post. Like the folks at the lighthouse, my eyes had deceived me and my imagination took over.