Wednesday, August 29, 2012

to the lighthouse

Swallowtail Light is one of the iconic symbols of Grand Manan. Not only because it's undeniably picturesque but I think too because it's the beacon greets everyone arriving by ferry and it's one of the last landmarks you see as you leave. No matter the purpose or duration of your stay on the island, sailing round Swallowtail bookends everyone's Grand Manan experience. 

The light was first lit in July 1860 following increased calls for a new light on the northern end of the island after the January 1857 wreck of the Lord Ashburton.  (The light was originally fueled by porpoise oil!)  Swallowtail was destaffed in 1985 but unlike many destaffed lighthouses the keeper's buildings - house, boathouse, etc - remain intact. 

It's been a couple of years since I made the quick hike out to Swallowtail.   I was delighted on Friday to discover the great work that's gone into the site by the Swallowtail Keepers Society, the non-profit that has held a long-term lease on much of the site since 2007. (The Village of Grand Manan is working toward acquisition of the light tower itself from the federal government.)  They've been busy raising funds through government grants and lobster rolls suppers and from the looks of it putting a lot of elbow grease into it!

The trails are better-marked, the buildings brightly painted, new lookouts placed along the peninsula and the bronze bell that was donated to the island museum in the 1960s was returned to the lighthouse site last November (bless that helicopter pilot!).   At a time when the death knell seems to be tolling for lighthouse sites elsewhere, it was wonderful to see that our beloved Swallowtail is actually shining a little brighter these days!

Signs of the Swallowtail Keepers Society around the site.

If you're interested in lighthouse history and preservation efforts, check out the Swallowtail Keepers Society blog   

The start and end of your Swallowtail visit.

They've done a great balancing act of improving trail markings while retaining  rugged footpaths and breath-taking look-offs.

Kayakers enjoying a perfect Grand Manan day.


Heather Brown said...

Love it!! We came home last night from a trip "away", and were delighted to see a rainbow over Swallowtail. So good to be home!

miss allaby: the glad girl said...

Thanks Heather - that sounds gorgeous. I think I saw that pic on Facebook. Unbelievable!