Female Lighthouse Keeper

February 11, 2016 § Leave a comment


Charlotte Ann Mason in 1815, from the National Park Service

Wishing my sisters and I had known about Charlotte Ann Mason when we used to visit Cape Lookout lighthouse as girls.  This article at Coastal Review Online tells a little about her.

Mason was just 18 years old when she was made second assistant keeper of the lighthouse. She did the job from 1872 to 1875.  And if I’m reading this correctly, it may be a rare time when a woman was paid as well as (or even better than) her male counterpart.

From the Coastal Review story:

Male or female, uniform or no, a lighthouse keeper’s job was physically demanding. Duggan said Charlotte and the other keepers were expected to stand one watch in three. While on watch, Charlotte devoted her full attention to the light. She was also expected to keep the daily logbook; haul oil up 216 steps, sometimes more than once; clean the lens and other equipment; trim wicks and polish brass; and keep the tower, grounds and support buildings clean and “in shape.”

As compensation for her work, Charlotte received an annual salary of $425. In comparison, her father was paid $700 as head lighthouse keeper. Benjamin P. Davis, first assistant lighthouse keeper, earned $400 annually.

Book worth seeking out: Women Who Kept the Lights: An Illustrated History of Female Lighthouse Keepers.


Photos on Wikipedia

February 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

Not sure if this is a recent update or if I’d just not noticed before, but the Wikipedia entry on Core Banks has some good photos, including this one:

core_banks_beach_-_2013-06_-_14Really takes me back to the days of playing on that beach while my dad fished.

Fall Fishtravaganza–Cape Lookout

October 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

Here’s video of mullet running off Cape Lookout–and, apparently, a bunch of sharks that showed up for dinner.

I can remember my dad and his friends going on fishing trips in the fall and talking about the tremendous numbers of fish in the water. Am thinking they did most of their fishing this time of year at Drum Inlet.

Core Banks Closed?

October 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Occurred to me that the place where we once lived as lawless squatters might actually be “closed” during this federal shutdown.

According to a newspaper article:

Cape Lookout Superintendent Pat Kenny was at the Harkers Island Visitor Center Tuesday as NPS staff and volunteers prepped the park for closure. The staff had to notify all visitors to the park they had to leave, including ones that were staying out on the islands.

“The park is effectively closed to all visitors,” Mr. Kenney said. “The visitors aren’t happy. Some of these folks have been planning this (visit) for a year. As an agency, we’re disappointed; there’s a lot of benefits to the local community to have a park, but without an appropriation, we can’t work.”

So, I’m assuming the entire Core Banks are closed…though I’m not sure how you keep people with boats away when there’s no one working.

Fish Gone Missing

July 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

From @CapeLookoutNPS on Twitter today: Did You Know? There was once a fish-shaped weathervane atop the Cape Lookout Lighthouse:


A link takes you to the photo above and this info on Facebook: There was once a fish-shaped weathervane on top of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. At some point after the last Lighthouse Keeper was stationed here (after the 1950s), it was removed and disappeared.

Core Sound Heritage Center

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Just found this site today, with lots of photos and tidbits.  Would like to visit the museum–Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center.


Here’s an old photo from their site called “Sea Level Oyster Factory”

Here’s a little on the history of Davis, with mention of Alger Willis fishing camps.

Another article, by David Cecelski, references World War II and Cape Lookout. It might help me think about the gun emplacements, which we used to climb around whenever we visited the lighthouse. These are excerpts from the article, “The Lighthouse’s Last Keeper”:

I was especially excited to meet Bonnie Royer and her first cousin, Steve Kenyon. I found them standing next to a collection of old photographs of Cape Lookout that they had brought with them from their homes in New Mexico and Missouri. Their mothers—a pair of sisters from Buzzards Bay, Wisconsin—both lived at Cape Lookout during the Second World War, when German submarines preyed so voraciously on Allied shipping just off our shores. Their fathers had been stationed at the Cape and Bonnie Royer was born there in 1942. She was the last child to have been born on Core Banks.

The stories that Bonnie and Steve told me were not about hurricanes or shipwrecks, but war. Their mothers told them many times how fearful they were on those nights at Cape Lookout. With Allied freighters burning offshore—the victims of German submarines—and rumors of German spies and invaders in the air, they got spooked by the littlest things.

The whole island was scary on those nights, Norma Kenyon always told her children. For one thing, Allied freighters snuck into the Bight after dark like ghost ships, their lights off, not a voice or a radio to be heard on their decks. Norma and her sister Peggy never forgot how eerie it was to see their dark, silent shadows looming just offshore. The freighters anchored there all night, then disappeared before dawn, when naval escorts guided them back through the inlet and out to sea.

By the summer of 1942, Bonnie’s mother always said, the island servicemen and their families already knew where to expect the bodies to wash ashore. As soon as they heard an explosion offshore, military officials restricted access to a long section of the island’s ocean beach. Army patrols found the bodies on the beach alongside driftwood and seaweed. A Coast Guardsman named Odell Guthrie—“a real sweet man, and a real character,” Mrs. Wanda Willis, his niece, told me—had the job of collecting the corpses. He was from an old line of Core Banks fishermen, whalers, and boat builders and knew those shores well.

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