Roger Bansemer

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Information and illustrations about Hunting Island lighthouse by artist & author Roger Bansemer.
Hunting Island Lighthouse
Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina
1859 1875

Hunting Island Lighthouse
Hunting Island lighthouse by artist & author Roger Bansemer.

Hunting Island lighthouse print
Original painting also available

Hunting Island Lighthouse

Hunting Island lighthouse print
Original painting also available

 

 

Working on the Hunting Island painting in the studio.

Hunting Island Lighthouse drawing
A pen and ink drawing of the lighthouse.

Hunting Island Lighthouse drawing

A 1st order Fresnel lens on display at the lighthouse with partial glass.


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Hunting Island Lighthouse

The Hunting Island lighthouse was important because it served as a half way mark between the ports of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. The lighthouse did not however, guide ships into a safe harbor but rather warned them to keep away from the dangerous shoals and shallow waters in the area. When a mariner sailing the area would see the light he would refer to a book called "Notice to Mariners." There he could find the color pattern of the lighthouse, which in the case of Hunting Island is black on the top half and white on the bottom. or at night find out which lighthouse it was by how often the light flashed in his direction. In the case of Hunting Island it warned mariners to stay far away.

An earlier lighthouse standing ninety-five feet tall was built of brick on Hunting Island in 1857 but it was destroyed during the Civil War. The Union had a much better navy than did the Confederates so the Confederates destroyed it to keep the north from any benefits that the Hunting Island lighthouse could provide. All lighthouses were Federal property belonging to the North so for that reason alone the Confederates thought it was a good idea to blow it up.

A new lighthouse was built in 1875. Three lighthouse keepers were stationed at Hunting Island along with their families in the late 1800’s all in one large two story house. They earned $740, $540, and $490 a year. The Hunting Island lighthouse instead of being built entirely of brick like the first one, this time it was constructed in large cast iron sections and lined with bricks similar in some respects to the one at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The idea was that if erosion made it necessary to relocate the lighthouse it would be possible to remove the brick lining and then dissemble the huge cast iron sections. Just fourteen years after it had been built, this move became necessary and the one hundred and thirty-six foot tower was taken apart piece by piece and reinstalled more than a mile inland. Today beach erosion has continued to make its way towards the lighthouse and although it is in no immediate danger, the lighthouse now stands only two hundred yards from the surf.

Thousands of palms and oaks line the winding roads that weave through the Hunting Island State Park leading to the lighthouse. It is a nice place to spend an afternoon on the white sandy beach for some swimming and picnicking. Hiking trails through the park can give you a better look at the stately cabbage palms and the variety of wildlife in the nearby salt marshes that act as a nursery for much of the sea life. There are no motels close by but camp sites and cabins are available in the park. Best of all, the lighthouse is open to the public. Modern technology has rendered this like most lighthouses a bit of a dinosaur so it is no longer lit you can still walk the one hundred and eighty-five steps to the top for a great view of the island.

 The lighthouse is open to the public.
For more information:
Hunting Island State Park
1775 Sea Island Parkway
St. Helena, South Carolina 29920

Hunting Island Lighthouse Map