I would have thought that after some twenty-five years of having a home on Block Island there wouldn’t be much of the touristy stuff left that we haven’t done at least once anyway. But the other day, on the drive around the southern part of the island, my friend Ellen and I stopped at the Southeast Light.
And–here’s the new part–we went in. There’s a gift shop in the ground floor of the light tower. As I peered admiringly up at the handsome circular stairs…
…I became aware that a tour of the tower was about to get started. So of course I signed up. How could I not? This is exactly the kind of tower a person (well, me) wants to climb. The circular stair is graceful and elegant.
The views from the top are expansive.
And–best of all–there’s an actual functioning Fresnel lens! A moment’s diversion here. Fresnel lenses are arrangements whereby the arcs of the lens divert the light from a source so that instead of shining all around it’s focused in one direction. This makes the light source much brighter, so that it can be seen from farther away. I couldn’t get far enough away to take a complete picture of the entire lens, but here’s one of the Fresnel lens that used to operate at San Diego.
The Block Island Southeast Light operates a green light that blinks every five seconds. I can stand right next to it and look at it without any pain or afterimages–and yet it can be seen eighteen miles out to sea. The light is inside a Type 1 Fresnel lens (large), of which there are only eleven or twelve still operating on the coasts of the United States.
These two pictures are looking directly at the lens; here’s looking up from below:
What the tour of the Southeast Light does not cover are the living quarters for two families that are part of the structure. This might be made into a B&B sometime in the future. What fun!
Mirrored from Ginger's Blog.