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"Lighthouses of the Lower James River"
River Talks presentation on February 18, 2014


Before GPS, Radar, VHF or Cell phones finding your way into our rivers was a challenge for most mariners. Local knowledge and good seamanship were essential to navigating the shallow areas of the lower James River. Lighthouses improved navigation.

Larry Saint, a local model builder, showcased a replica of the Nansemond River Lighthouse which marked the entrance to the Nansemond River near Pig Point from 1878 until 1935. He has researched little known facts about our local lighthouses. The Nansemond River Light and the Middle Ground Lighthouse are just two examples of local lighthouses that were discussed.

River Talks is a community forum sponsored collaboratively by Suffolk River Heritage and Nansemond River Preservation Alliance. Larry Saint is a member of Suffolk River Heritage and has built several models of Chesapeake Bay Deadrise design traditional boats. He combines his talent with research to tell the story of his works.

Begining of Larry Saint's presentation - Lighthouses of the James River Larry Saint's model of the Nansemond River Lighthouse Waiting for the presentation to start!
An old map of Churchland showing the Ballard Farm l885 photo of Point of Shoals Light - Burwell Bay Elizabeth Taraski starts off the talk.
Good food is always part of our River Talks! Plans for Nansemond River Lighthouse Audience at River Talks
Larry Saint's talk was recorded. You can watch it here look for the link in the future. Photos of various lighthouses on display at the River Talks

We always have a good crowd for our River Talks...there were over 100 people to see "James River Lighthouses"

Robert Ballard with the 8 Day Post lantern found by his father on the beach of the Ballard Farm in the early 1920's. Subsequent research found many post lanternsw were lost to ice flows in the winter of 1919-1920. This lantern was likely stationed at Hampton Creek or Willoughby when it was swept away by wind and ice. The lantern has been in the Ballard family since then and is now on display at Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve.  Robert Ballard Nancy Saint (in the white vest), Larry Saint's wife and others socializing before the presentation starts.
Mr. Ballard looking over the base of his lantern. The lantern was hung from a post and was serviced from the bottom. Latches there release the interior lamp, allowing the lightkeeper to trim the wick and clean the glass. Another shot of the post lantern and an 1885 picture of Nansemond River Light in the background. The donut shaped brass ring 1/3 of the way from the top held enough oil to light the lamp for 8 days. More lanterns on display for the River Talks
On display at the Roanoke River Lighthouse in Edenton, NC is this wooden screwpile. Screwpile lighthouse foundations were used extensively throughout the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina sound. They provided an inexpensive and relatively easy c onstruction method. Most piles were iron, but some used in North Carolina were carved from wood. Larry Saint and Robert Ballard discussing his lantern. Two lanterns used in Larry Saint's presentation to show the development of lamp technology in the late 1800's.
A photo of Larry's lighthouse model during construction. Another shot of Mr. Ballard's 8 Day Post Lantern and a photo of Nansemond River Light.
Photos
By
John
Sheally
Flanged screws used at the base of screwpiles. The piles were iron and driven into the bottom by a team of 25 - 30 men standcing on a platform walking around a capstain. Screwpile Tip

Driving a screwpile

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