Picture taken from and old postcard

The picture to the left shows the lighthouse as it appeared circa 1900. A small ladder is visible in  this photo that was used to climb from the lower platform to the walkway around the glass section of the light. The lighthouse keeper and his helpers had to clean the windows on the outside as well as inside, to keep the glass clean assuring that the beacon could be see a great distance at sea. In this time period the original 1867 first-order Fresnel lens would have been in use. It is also a masterpiece of workmanship manufactured in Paris France in 1866. The glass lens made up of many prisms, was designed to project a narrow beam of light and amplify the flame form 4 burning wicks in the center of the housing. The keeper could enter the lens from the backside to replenish the oil in  the fish oil tank, trim the cotton wicks and  clean the prisms. Large mirrors in the rear of the lens reflected the beam towards the ocean to warn ships of danger on the Winter Quarters Shoals. This large glass lens system was in a fixed position, but shone in all directions. In 1933 the fish oil lamp was removed and replaced with a flashing electric light, lit by three 100 watt bulbs powered by generators. The Fresnel lens was removed circa 1963 and placed on the ground near the base of the lighthouse. It remained in that spot for many years. Some damage occurred to the lens by weather and vandalism. A group of local people decided to salvage the antique light and restore it back to its original condition. Some of the glass was missing and had to replaced with acrylic parts made from patterns of the originals. The Fresnel lens was moved to the Oyster and Maritime Museum on Chincoteague Island  were it can be seen by the public but remain protected. The lens is the property of the United States Coast Guard and on loan to the Museum.


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