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Day 111 - Tybee Island, Lighthouse & Fort (Photo's Added)

Tybee Island has a lighthouse & museum, which we visited. Nearby is Fort Pulaski, an important Civil War site and national monument.

storm 50 °F


Miles Driven - 186
Weather - Heavy Rain and Wind last night through lunch, then just overcast and mid 50's
Camped at Walmart in Macon, GA


In case you're just reading the blog, when I fall behind I try to create a least short entries without any photo's so family and friends know where we are. These have (Placeholder) in the title. Then later, when I can go back and add the photo's and full writeup, I change the title to show (Photo's Added). In the Travellerspoint main screen, only the five most recent blog entries are listed. To see anything older - you need to select one of the categories (Family Travel) - then you can see the old entries with all the real stuff. We'll be taking a few days off during the holidays, so I should be able to get everything caught up for a change. When I am not behind, there aren't any qualifiers in the title, so photo's and text are all current. Hope this helps?


The plan for today and tommorrow was just to travel. We are scheduled to be in Atlanta, Georgia by Saturday night to spend Christmas with my niece and we have reservations at a nice campground near her place. I figured two days should make a nice, leasurely drive for the 250+ miles.

We went to Tybee Island last night because we heard it had a good RV campground and wasn't that far from Savannah. It turns out to be one of the places listed in the book "1,000 Places To See Before You Die". Who knew? We just seem to stumble onto the neatest things!

Anyway, our luck with the weather finally ran out a bit. Very windy & rainy all night. We had a good internet connection for a change, so I decided to wait until late morning to head out. This worked out pretty good as it stopped raining just about when we left the campground. It was still quite windy however (20 - 25 mph).

We had learned that Tybee Island has a lighthouse which was only about three blocks from where we camped! Mom decided it was too stormy for her to get out of the RV, but I wrapped up my camera really good and went on in. The lighthouse was open, as well as the keepers house (& gift shop). They weren't really busy due to the stormy weather, which was fine with me. This is still a working lighthouse, so you can climb the 178 steps to the top - but can't go all the way to the light because it's still in use.


The main gallery at the top is usually open, but because of the winds the door was locked today (the platform around the top of the lighthouse is called a gallery). I was disappointed, but I didn't really want to be blown off either. I was able to take some pictures of the view from the mid level windows as well as from the top (with some rain on the window of course).
(Thumbnail alert, click to enlarge).


The first lighthouse was built at Tybee Island in 1733 by the founder of Savannah, Gen. James Oglethorpe. It was built of wood and was 90 feet tall, one of the tallest buildings in America at the time. This was destroyed by erosion in 1741 and a new tower completed in 1742. However, it was also built too close to the ocean and was threatened with destruction. In 1768 a third lighthouse was started (farther inland). During the Civil War, Confederate troops partially destroyed the lighthouse in order to prevent Union troops from using it as a lookout over Fort Pulaski, where thier main defenses were located. When the Union captured Tybee Island, they repaired the damage somewhat and used the lighthouse as a lookout anyway. In 1873 the current lighthouse was completed, using the lower 60 feet of the previous structure. If you look closely, you can see the angle of the buildng changes part way up the structure. This final, taller version had a first order Fresnel Lens installed which is still in use. Although the lens itself was off limits, they've left an opening at the bottom so you can get a pretty good view of the lens.


It turns out that this is one of only 13 light houses left in America with a first order Fresnel Lens that is still a working lighthouse. This lens was installed in 1867 and now uses a 1,000 watt electric light bulb. The light can be seen for 18 miles at sea.

The Lighthouse is the main component of a five acre 'light station', one of the most intact 'Light Stations' in America. This consists of houses for the the Headkeeper, First Assistant Keeper, and Second Assistant Keeper, a summer kitchen, garage and fuel storage building. The Headkeeper's and First Assistant Keeper's houses have been restored to their original 'stick style' architecture. The Headkeeper's house is open for touring and is set up as it would have looked in the early 1900's when occupied. Today, other buildings are used for the Entrance & Gift shop and a museum about the history of the lighthouse. (Do you like the last picture of the bureau? It's my 'trick' shot for the day...)


Across the street from the Lighthouse was the Tybee Island Museum, housed in an 1899 Gun Barracks. Since Mom had skipped the Lighthouse, she decided she'd like to at least visit the museum, and why not - we were right there?


This had a lot of information about the gun batteries and forts that had been built on Tybee Island over the years, one of the earliest being a Martello Tower built in 1815. Unfortunately all that's left of this are drawings and old photo's, it was destroyed in 1915 to improve line of sight for the gun batteries. It was one of only six that were built in the US and the Army didn't recoginize the historical significance. (The house on top was added later when it was used as a lookout.)


I also thought I'd include this photo of a 2nd Lt. Morgan who died while trying to rescue the crew of a ship wrecked nearby, maybe to honor the bravery and heroism of such individuals.


There was also a section about Tybee Islands history as a beach resort (some call it Savannah's beach), but not sure I have any other pictures from the museum worth uploading - so will move on.

When we were driving to the campground the previous night, we'd passed another National Park Service sign for a Fort Pulaski. I wasn't really sure what Fort Pulaski was, but as we drove back from Tybee Island, I decided to go ahead and stop there briefly, if only to get my NPS Book stamped. (I'm not very good at stopping briefly anywhere however.) This was much more interesting then I had time for (we do need to get to Atlanta). But Fort Pulaski was worth the stop, and for more than just adding a stamp to a book. (Footnote 1)

This was yet another of the coastal fortifications as we've visited elsewhere (Fort Macon, Fort Knox and Fort Sumpter). However this one has a moat, drawbridges, a Demilune (triangular island protecting the main gate) as well as being quite massive. Construction began in 1829 and took 18 years and 25 million bricks.


Here's a little more information about what a Demilune is:


While I was visiting, Mike, one of the Park Rangers, gave a demonstration of how to fire a rifle such as those used during the Civil War. There are two versions of this, in the first one he gives the command for each step in the sequence (nine in all I think). In the second video, he just fires the weapon.

Now, without commands

By the outbreak of the Civil War, the Fort still wasn't fully armed or garrisoned and the State of Georgia took possession of it for the Confederacy. It was considered unbreachable. One General said if you wanted to capture Fort Pulaki, you might as well try bombarding the Rocky Mountains. Yet it was successfully taken by the Union in 1862 after only a 30 hour siege - the first siege using experimental rifled cannon. After this, Union Gen. Hunter made the profound observation:


Fort Pulaski guarded access to Savannah. By controlling the Fort, the Union was able to successfully blockade Savannah and stop the Confederacy from trading it's cotton to England for weapons. If this siege had not been successful, it would have been much harder for the Union's blockade to succeed. Also, having proven the effectiveness of the new, rifled cannon, the Union made good use of the weapon in attacking other forts. Massive, brick fortifications were obsolete.

So for an 'off' day, we visited a Lighthouse (and restored Keepers home), a museum, and a civil war fort. Hmm

We still want to get to Atlanta by tomorrow night so I drove pretty hard after all that. Fortunately, the wind died down by the time we passed Savannah and it was all freeway from there, so a pretty easy drive. We stopped at a CrackerBarrel restaurant for dinner and are crashing for the night in Macon. Should be a short 80 mile or so drive left for tomorrow.

Footnote 1 - The National Park Service has a program where you can get a stamp at any NP facilitity (including National Monuments, Wildlife Refuges, and Battlefields). You can just stamp a piece of paper, but it's more fun to purchase a book (Passport) to keep as kind of a souvenir album of your travels. Mine is getting a little full I'm afraid.

Posted by jl98584 20:12 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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well you just may have gotten to Atlanta by today. Barring unforseen circumstances, of course, always. We're gearing up for a Christmas open house, doing way way more than we need to. Today was my last day in the office before winter vacation. I am now officially on vacation. won't really feel like it until after christmas, i think. most all the presents gotten and wrapped, all my cards sent, just finish cleaning the place and cook my part of the "finger food" for the open house. oh, and hike with the over 40's group tomorrow. vivian will be making pies whili i slog through the arboretum.

by drque

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