10 Places To Explore At Cabrillo National Monument

I did some of my research for Lighthouse Loyalty at Cabrillo National Monument, Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and with a National Park historian. Recently, I’ve been volunteering at Cabrillo National Monument as a way to “pay it back” and “pay it forward.” (And it’s totally awesome to help with interpretation at a historic lighthouse!)

I’ve rounded up ten places you won’t want to miss if you visit this National Park in San Diego, California. Be sure to visit the park’s website to check for special events and advisories and if an area mentioned in this post is closed, please be sensible and don’t try to enter! (That’s speaking as a volunteer who watches out for visitor safety…) I’ve tried to arrange these locations in an order that makes sense if you headed directly to the lighthouse to start exploring, but don’t neglect the visitor center to get a map!

Happy Exploring… Continue reading

8 Things You Should Know About Civil War Veterans & Lighthouses

As I worked on research for Lighthouse Loyalty, I was surprised to find Civil War veterans taking jobs at lighthouse keepers. In many ways, lightkeeping could have been a perfect job for a Union veteran, even if he had been injured during the war. It’s another unique tie between maritime history and the Civil War.

Here are eight things to consider about lighthouses and veteran lighthouse keepers after 1865 and how I was able to incorporate some of the details into the historical novel:  Continue reading

19th Century Music in “Lighthouse Loyalty”

“Do you know any new songs to teach us, Uncle Richard?” I asked, after we had resettled in the main room and sung several of our favorites, entertaining Mama and Marian.

“Oh, I don’t know that it’s new, but there is a song I could sing for you. Someone taught it to me a few years ago,” he replied quietly, shifting in his chair.

“Sing it, sing it,” Paul chanted. Uncle Richard cleared his throat, and we waited, expecting a lively tune. Instead, he sang simple words and a pleasing melody… (Lighthouse Loyalty, excerpt from Chapter 6)

Throughout Lighthouse Loyalty music is used for symbolism and and unifying effect, reflecting the importance of music in 19th Century society. The songs mentioned by name are accurate to the era, and for today’s blog post, I thought it would be fun to share a little about the history behind the song choice and some links to the songs. Continue reading

Messy & Disgraceful Lighthouse History

Lighthouses were government property; we lived in them, but anyone – inspector, citizen, or military – could come to the house, expecting to find hospitality and order. If the inspector thought the lighthouse wasn’t clean or we were wasting supplies, he could dismiss us in disgrace. (Lighthouse Loyalty, Chapter 1)

No, no, lighthouses aren’t supposed to messy and disgraceful. In fact, that would be explicitly against the lighthouse keeping rules made and enforced by the U.S. Lighthouse Board or the Bureau of Lighthouses.

However, it’s worth taking a look at the “darker side” of lighthouse history. What about the few keepers who failed in their duties? What did they do? And what was the punishment? Continue reading

Those Beautiful Lighthouse Lenses

Ever seen something practical, but it was just so mesmerizingly beautiful you couldn’t stop looking at it? You wanted to see it safe and protected forever as a piece of art…

That’s the way I feel about Fresnel Lenses. They were/are beautifully cut glass lenses used in lighthouses. Many are well over a hundred years old, and happily some of them have found safe homes in maritime or lighthouse museums.

Today, I’ll share briefly about how the lenses worked, a story about Fresnel lenses during the American Civil War, and a couple that I’ve seen in museums. Continue reading

Lighthouse Gardens

After a few days of this creative hauling, the garden boxes and barrels were filled and ready for planting, and the following afternoon, Mama put on her straw hat and invited us to help her in the garden. While Marian sat on a small quilt nearby, Jacob, Paul, and I poked the seeds into the warm earth. The vegetables were planted in the boxes and in two of the barrels. Two other barrels got flower seeds, and Mama had had the men move the last two barrels to the front of the lighthouse – facing the sea – and we planted the prettiest flowers there. Continue reading