We came in search of wild horses, instead we found a lighthouse.
On our jaunt to the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay a couple of years ago, after touring various sites in Maryland, we decided to head south to Assateague and cross over into Virginia for the afternoon. On a whim, we thought we’d particularly visit Chincoteague Island where we hoped to catch sight of a wild horse or two.
No such luck for us that day. All we spotted within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge was some…ahem…evidence, shall we say, that horses had recently been where we were.
But we did spy a red and white striped 142-foot tall lighthouse in the distance when we stopped at a visitor’s center and were bird watching on the building’s deck looking over marshland.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Assateague Light is an active navigational aid located on the southern end of Assateague Island, maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, and currently owned by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
We easily found our way by car to an area to park and walked the short hike along a trail to the lighthouse itself. We found that we were the only visitors there that afternoon.
Open to the public on weekends from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. from April through November with free admission, although donations are accepted to help maintain the lighthouse, unfortunately we visited on a weekday and it was closed.
However, visitors may take tours of Assateague Light to learn its history and about life as a light keeper. In addition, they can climb 175 steps to the top of the tower and view the surrounding areas of the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland as well as Chincoteague, Assateague, and Wallops Island where NASA has a flight facility.
The current brick lighthouse is the second to stand at this location. After the original one, only lit by candle lantern and erected in 1833 was determined to be too short, construction of a new taller and more effectively illuminated lighthouse began in 1860.
The Civil War interrupted and the newer Assateague Light wasn’t completed until 1867. Converted to electricity in the early 1930’s, Assateague’s current beacon consists of two rotating lights flashing one after another 154 feet above sea level and can be spotted 19 miles out to sea.
As one of less than 20 lighthouses of its type still operational on the eastern coast of the United States, we were pleased we noticed it and took the time to visit historic Assateague Light.
I believe while gazing at that old lighthouse still shining without ceasing to guide sea vessels through shallow shoals of Chesapeake Bay, a glimmer of light flickered in my mind — a light bulb moment so to speak – as I photographed that beacon.
The allure of capturing photos of lighthouses began developing that afternoon at Assateague Light and inspired other empty nest travels for Papa and I to view these magnificent structures.
Something about the goodness of a lighthouse, the purpose it serves to keep mankind safe in perilous conditions appealed to me. Shouldn’t we all emulate a lighthouse for our fellow human beings?
“Man must behave like a lighthouse; he must shine day and night for the goodness of every man.” ~Mehmet Murat Ildan