August 22nd, 2012

Women Lighthouse Keepers

women lighthouse keepersEver wonder what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper? To be responsible for ships making it safely into treacherous harbors? Lighthouses and their keepers have always inspired romantic notions of masculinity and heroism but the work itself was tiring, unpredictable, and extremely demanding. Lighthouse keepers had to be vigilant at all hours of the night to make sure the lights stayed lit for boats traveling in all kinds of weather.

The first lighthouse in Maryland was built in 1822 and the last one was constructed in 1910. At one point there were 44 lighthouses on the Maryland shores of the Chesapeake Bay. During the years from 1792 until the 1930s, lighthouses throughout the country saw a dramatic surge in their necessity and an almost as rapid decline in their use as lighthouses became automated, replaced by beacons, fell into disrepair, and ships began to employ more sophisticated methods of navigation.

Most lighthouses today serve as museums and tourist attractions and we have a couple of very popular ones here in the immediate area. Concord Point, located in Havre de Grace (also the second oldest tower lighthouse on the Bay) and Turkey Point in Elk Neck (which had more female lighthouse keepers than any other lighthouse on the Bay) are both popular parts of our local history. Did you know that the first lighthouse keeper for Concord Point was a hero from the War of 1812? Or that hundreds of women have been lighthouse keepers throughout history? Women are often overlooked throughout history for their roles in traditionally male jobs, but many women continued on as lighthouse keepers when their husbands or fathers died and did the job just as well, if not better.

Please join us at the Perryville Branch Library on Thursday, August 30, at 7pm as historian Mary Rasa presents a program tracing the fascinating history of women lighthouse keepers, what kind of duties their job entailed, their tales of isolation and hardship in extreme weather conditions, including Cecil County’s own famous Turkey Point Lighthouse keeper, Fanny Salter.

For more information, we have several exciting books about lighthouses in the area available for checkout at the library including: Lighthouses of the Mid-Atlantic Coast by Elinor DeWire and Lighthouses of Maryland and Virginia: History, Mystery, Legends, & Lore by Bob Trapani, Jr.

What’s your favorite lighthouse?


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March 14th, 2012

More Than Just Old Bay…

Growing up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, I had it made. My childhood summers were filled with hunting for arrowheads on sandy beaches, canoeing quietly in the marsh to catch a glimpse of the beaver building his dam, and floating in the silty water as I watched blue heron and osprey fly overhead… We were a frugal family and didn’t travel much, so I naively assumed that was a pretty normal way to live. Many of our neighbors fished and crabbed, so seafood galore was pretty everyday, too.

Once I grew up a bit and gained perspective, I began to realize how unique our area is – including our cuisine. To celebrate this glorious history, Cecil County Public Library is hosting two programs on the history of Chesapeake Bay cooking.  Writer Katherine Moose, author of “Chesapeake’s Bounty: Cooking with Regional Favorites,” will tell about local food history and demonstrate several delicious recipes. She’ll also have books for sale and signing.

Chesapeake Bay Map Historic

The programs will be held:

Perryville Branch Library
Saturday, March 24th at 11am

North East Branch Library
Saturday, March 31st at 11am

Call or stop by any branch to sign up. What’s your favorite part about living in Chesapeake Bay country?


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