Folly Beach, Charleston, S Carolina, USA by Charles Hooker

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Picture Story

The Morris Island Lighthouse is an historic structure that has provided safe passage into Charleston Harbor since Colonial days. Built in 1767 at the southern entrance to Charleston Harbor, the original tower was destroyed during in 1862 during the American Civil War. The new tower, built in 1876, stands 161 ft. with 201 steps leading to its top. The construction of massive rock jetties in 1889 to protect the shipping channels into the Harbor disrupted the longshore currents. The resulting erosion quickly destroyed the island that the light and structures were built upon. By 1938, the ocean was lapping at the foundation of the lighthouse, forcing its automation and abandonment of the island. In 1962 a new lighthouse on Sullivan's Island was commissioned, and the Morris Island Light, survivor of hurricanes, earthquakes, war, and erosion, fell dark. In 1965, the Federal Government sold it to a private citizen as "surplus property". In the ensuing 3 decades the Lighthouse changed hands several times, falling into further neglect. Shipworms attacked the wooden pile foundation as the Light was battered by waves and wind.

In 1999, a group of local citizens, determined to "Save The Light" for the people of South Carolina, purchased the lighthouse and began fundraising efforts to stabilize and repair the structure before it deteriorated into the ocean.

"Two Lights Burning" was made the evening of October 1, 2016, during a ceremony that celebrated the 140th anniversary of the first lighting of the Morris Island Lighthouse. "Save the Light" worked with the local utility provider to set up a solar powered generator at the lighthouse and to string lights in the windows of the lantern room. The lights were lit remotely from the beach as dusk fell. For a brief few hours, both the Sullivan's Island and Morris Island lights illuminated the entrance to Charleston Harbor. Surrounded by the chaos of thousands of people who came to see the spectacle, I was able to hold an unobstructed view of both lighthouses that had a somewhat appealing foreground. The scene was frenetic, however I envisioned a more serene experience. After many hours of editing to remove people, boats, ships, and UFOs, the result is my experience of the scene: Two Lights, Burning.


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