Annual OBLHS Keeper’s Weekend October 9-11, 2009
by Robert DaVia
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On October 9, 2009, nearly 30 members of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society gathered in the parking lot of Fort Macon, near Atlantic
Beach, NC, to kick off the 14th Annual Keepers’ Weekend! Once everyone was together, we walked to the fort’s entrance, and we were
awed by the new visitor center that was dedicated and officially opened on October 31.
The group was met by Ft. Macon State Park Ranger John Fullwood who gave a talk about the history of the fort. Construction of Fort Macon
began in 1826 and took eight years to complete. It was built as part of a national defense chain of coastal forts; its specific duty was to guard
Beaufort Inlet and Beaufort Harbor. At the beginning of the Civil War, the fort was seized from Union Forces by North Carolina troops. It was
later attacked and retaken by the Union. It also served as a federal prison from 1867 to 1876. Garrisoned during the Spanish American War, it
was closed in 1903. It was restored by the Civilian Conservation Corp 1934-35 and was garrisoned again during World War II. In 1946 it was
returned to the state.
Ranger Fullwood then gave a demonstration of the loading and firing of a Model 1864 Springfield Rifle Musket. To view a video of the
demonstration, go to http://www.seathelights.com/fort_macon.html. After the demonstration, the group was free to tour the fort and park
grounds at their leisure.
After lunch on our own, the group was to meet at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort. The museum collects, preserves, researches,
documents, and interprets the maritime history, culture, and environment of coastal North Carolina. The collection has been around since the
early 1900s and moved to its current location in 1985. The museum’s exhibit gallery features the history of the U.S. Life-Saving Service and
the state’s working watercraft, coastal marine life, and the heritage of coastal watermen and how they made their living. Full-sized watercraft
and models ranging from sailing skiffs to commercial fishing boats are displayed along with decoys, hand tools, fossil and shell collections, salt
water aquaria, and life-like dioramas that reflect the richness of the coast’s resources and history. There is also an exhibit featuring the pirate
Blackbeard and his flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge. Artifacts from the shipwreck, discovered in 1996, are being conserved by archaeologists and
will be housed by the museum. Visit the museum’s website at http://www.ncmaritime.org/
Afterwards, we were again on our own to visit waterfront shops before that night’s festivities!
At 5:30, the Keepers’ Bar opened up at the Country Club of the Crystal Coast overlooking beautiful Bogue Sound, and guests were invited to
view the items available for purchase in the Keepers’ Store as well as previewing auction items. Among this year’s highlights were a set of seven
lighthouse prints, a reproduction window pane from a lighthouse, a Cape Lookout Gift Pack, duck decoys, and a reproduction model of Cape
Lookout Lighthouse built by Rick & Theresa Ward.
Before dinner, the annual OBLHS membership meeting was held. Board members and guests were introduced, the raffle drawing was held,
and OBLHS prism awards were handed out. (See the back cover for this year’s award recipients.) OBLHS President Bett Padgett entertained
us with her original song honoring the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Special congratulations to Diana Chappell for being awarded the OBLHS
Founders’ Award, well deserved.
After dinner, the auction began. This is the Society’s major fundraiser of the year, and this year proved to be a record breaker. Our auctioneer,
Richard Meissner, was unable to attend this year, so those duties fell to Bill Padgett and Dallas Spruill. Bill did a great job, until he made the
mistake of asking Dallas to say a few words about one of the items up for auction. From there on, it was Dallas’ show. Thanks, Dallas, for a
Saturday morning dawned as a sunny fall day as we made our way to Harkers Island to catch private ferries to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
We joined in the celebration of 150 Years of Light for the lighthouse. Several of us were on the first ferry of the morning, and the 40-minute
ride to the island was interrupted briefly as the ferry captain made a short stop off Shackleford Banks to allow us time to take pictures of the
We arrived and set up chairs under a picnic shelter at the head of the pier. We knew it would be a long, hot day, and we wanted to have some
shade. We enjoyed exploring the lighthouse area, taking the boardwalk to the Atlantic side of the island, reading the new interpretive displays
along the way, and shopping at the gift shop before the crowds arrived. At 10:00, the activities at the lighthouse began, which included music on
the Keepers’ Quarters porch, children’s programs, book and artwork signings, and the Keepers’ talk on the porch.
At 1:00, the special program began under the big tent to celebrate the lighthouse’s anniversary. Dignitaries spoke on the history of Cape Lookout
and its service over the past 150 years. Musicians, including our own Bett Padgett, sang its praises as well as those of keepers’ descendants, the
U.S. Life-Saving Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard. The USCG did a fly-by over Cape Lookout, a birthday cake was served, and the celebration
came to an end.
To wrap-up the weekend, OBLHS cofounders, Bruce and Cheryl Roberts, hosted a brunch at their home on Sunday morning for nearly 70
attendees. Friends visited with each other one last time before saying goodbye, and headed off on their separate ways––until next year.
We hope you enjoyed the event and that you will consider attending in 2010! If you have any suggestions or feedback about the event, we would
love to hear it. We want this event to be meaningful and important to our members. Your participation was crucial to its success, and we want
to make sure it met your expectations. Contact OBLHS President Bett Padgett, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos coming soon.....
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