Bloggin' the Whole Story
Thanks to everyone who frequents this website for the photos and blogs. On this blog site there will be a variety of photos and descriptive posts. Some posts involve extensive research, both from interviewing locales and supplemented from the internet, while others are posted for the simple photo alone. Please enjoy and don't be afraid to give back your comments, good or bad.
Standby To Standby -
Harsh winters, starvation, scurvy, drunkenness, disease as well as attacks by native Americans and foreign armies plagued Fort Niagara at one time or another over its' 300 year history. In the late 1600's the French were especially hard hit by starvation and disease. In 1687 while it was named Fort Denonville, 100 French soldiers were left to winter here, only 12 survived. Of particular concern for British command in the years between 1759 and 1796 was boredom among the rank and file. British red-coat soldiers, also known as "lobsters" and bloody backs" (as labelled by colonists) were stationed here to secure the entrance to the Niagara River which led to the Great Lakes and to carry out raids on American colonists. Yet in standby preparation, the garrison of British soldiers stationed at Fort Niagara's 1726 era French-built Castle "mansion" were required to be always ready in full uniform.
I photographed this British Red Coat re-enactor while visiting Fort Niagara in July 2021. In my brief interview with him, he was stoic and a man of few words. He did convey his role as an era-correct contingent of the garrison. Here was a non-commissioned British regimental soldier, a private or corporal at best and as he put it. . . plagued with extreme boredom. He was enacting smoking a tobacco pipe as so many did and portraying playing cards on the table as a relief for the boredom. Despite being well disciplined troops, this boredom often led to gambling with cards, drunkenness and brawling, all strictly against British military regulations for a British soldier but they did so nonetheless, he stated.
A British soldier was rationed roughly five pints of small beer per diem (usually diluted to avoid excessive drunkenness). Winter boredom would have consisted of much the same, more or less, but with the added difficulty of staying warm in subzero temperatures even while inside. In the French Castle, fireplaces were common in every room to avoid freezing. Supplies would come from England every two months or so but at other times not at all. These soldiers also faced disease and scurvy under harsh winter conditions. Some were married with wives housed at the fort as well. Marriage was greatly discouraged by Commanding Officers.
Fort Niagara in western New York has a long history as a conflicted military stronghold. It was a strategic location for controlling all maritime traffic entry from the Atlantic Ocean into the Great Lakes. The first military settlement at Fort Niagara located at the mouth of the Niagara River off Lake Ontario was established by the French as Fort Conti in 1679. The trading post and military fortification protected their fur trading interests with the indigenous people and their continuing exploration and settlements around the Great Lakes. The indigenous peoples of the Iroquois Confederacy included originally Five Nations: the Mohawks, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayugas, Senecas and later in 1722 the Tuscarora peoples to make it Six Nations. To protect their affairs, the French strived to form an alliance with the Six Nations for the purpose of defeating any invading forces namely the British. However the alliance with the Iroquois tribes especially were strained at best. In 1726 the French were allowed by the Iroquois Confederacy to build what they called a "House of Peace", yet built of stone. The French conned the Confederacy and built the French Castle at Fort Niagara in the form of a french styled mansion so as to minimize the appearance as an armed fortification. But the building housed garrisoned military personnel and munitions storage. See the following link to other Fort Niagara photos taken by myself on this same tour in July 2021. In those photos you will see the stone Castle, the reinforced stone Redoubts used for perimeter protection as well as the bermed fortifications with artillery batteries.
The French continued to fortify and strengthen the Fort during the King George's War of 1744-1748 and during the French and Indian War beginning in 1754 through 1757 by building massive earthen berms, structures for provisions and munitions storage. Then in 1759, besieged by night and day bombings, an overwhelming British force and tunneled intrusions, the French held Fort succumbed to a 19 day siege by British forces. In 1770-1771 the British built two stone Redoubts to shore up their perimeter defenses around the Fort. The British held control of the Fort throughout the American War for Independence and used it as a base for raids against American colonists and as a refuge for Native allies, the Tories and British loyalists in the colonies. However in 1796 Britain was forced under treaty to turn over the Fort to the Americans.
During the War of 1812, Fort Niagara was again captured by British troops as a stronghold. They again forfeited control back to the Americans by treaty in 1815. By 1825, the building of the Erie Canal greatly diminished the strategic importance of Fort Niagara.
The Fort has been used for U.S. troop training and staging for the Union during the Civil War, troop readiness for the Battle of Manila in 1899 in the Philippines, and for WWI and WWII. In 1944 it was used as a prisoner of war camp for German and Austrian POW's.
Today the Fort welcomes some 200,000 tourists annually.
Since this photo was taken in very dark interior conditions, camera settings were adjusted accordingly: ISO 1600; aperture f/8; shutter speed was reduced to 1/20 using a Nikon D850 with a 28mm lens but hand held.
Crossing the Bar
Over two hundred shipwrecks have been recorded in and around the mouth of the Columbia River where it empties into the Pacific Ocean.
The earliest records date to 1775 when Spanish explorer Bruno de Hezeta (Heceta) discovered and mapped the area. Illnesses among his crew stopped him from any further exploration. In 1788 English explorer Captain John Meares, in an attempt to further discover the Great Northwest Inland Passage, as mapped out by Heceta, landed on the north river bank of the Columbia, but frustrated he could not find the actual river. In his frustration he named the high cliffs point Cape Disappointment. American trader Robert Gray crossed the bar in 1792 in his ship The Columbia and gave the river its current name. There is evidence that earlier Spanish ships may have floundered and crewmen lost as early as 1679 at the mouth of the Columbia River. Evidence suggests that some periled crews of sunken ships made it to shore only to be captured by local Indian tribes such as the Chinook and Clatsop then traded to other tribes as slaves. Hundreds of crewmen and passengers are known to have perished by drowning. Since 1850, the mouth of the Columbia has been labelled the Graveyard of the Pacific.
The fierce currents, winds and tidal actions here create an underwater shifting sand bar that causes ships to run aground or drift off course only to be dashed on the rocky banks of the River. Today's large ships wait as long as a week for the fog, winds and currents to be just right for the crossing of the bar. River pilots are needed to navigate safely across the sand bar. All throughout the 1800's mariner traffic was essential for providing Portland and other inland inhabitants with supplies. Exporting products such as grain and timber was also vital for the areas' economy. The shifting underwater sand caused such concern in the late 1800's that Congress appropriated funds to build a jetty extending out from the Clatsop Sand spit on the south side of the mouth in 1914 and a northern jetty in 1925. This in hopes that it would mitigate the shifting sands. Elevated railroad tracks were built out into the River to deposit large rock for the jetty. Even today, the channel is regularly dredged to keep the channel depth acceptable for marine traffic. Currents are so fierce at the mouth of the Columbia that salt water flow has been registered as far as 106 miles up River and fresh water plumes reach out into the Pacific for a 100 miles. This is no normal river delta.
In 1856, Congress decided it was vital to build a lighthouse high atop the northern cliff above the Cape. This photo shows the 53 foot high conical shaped Cape Disappointment Light at an elevation of 220 feet above the River. (The small observation deck structure in front of the light tower is used by the Coast Guard to observe the constantly changing sand bar and alert mariners of pending dangers.) By 1870 it was discovered, after several shipwrecks, that the lighthouse was so high above the River level that it often could not be seen during thick fog and the bell mechanism not heard due to the noise of the waves below. The location also was too far east from the ocean and could not be seen by ships approaching from the north. A second light, the North Head Light, was erected in 1897 about two miles further north atop the cliffs facing the Pacific Ocean.
Photo taken May 2019.
Herring Cove, Nova Scotia
Driving to the southwest out of Halifax one morning in August 2019 on highway 253, we were on our way to photograph the Chebucto Head Light at Duncan Cove off Highway 349. About 15 kilometers down the road from downtown Halifax, I spotted a little fishing cove that certainly looked picturesque. With camera in hand I had to stop. This was Herring Cove, a regional municipality suburb of Halifax of about 3000 people. The town had been a productive fishing community and remnants were still very visible. However, that working industry had faded. One of the last locally famous full-time fisherman of decades past retired in 2018. Today's fishing activity here consists mostly of a few lobster boats moored to the old docks in the cove, some of which can be seen in this photo.
What I did not realize at the time I took this photo is that this little rural bedroom community is the major North American hub of internet cabling between Europe and the U.S. / Canada. Who knew ? This fact is so obscure that not even some of the locals are aware of its significance. Herring Cove Nova Scotia is the shortest point between our continent and England and subsequently the rest of western Europe. As of 2015 it is the landing point for the densest cluster of sub-50ms (millisecond) trans-Atlantic fiber optic cables between the two sides of the Atlantic. There are several major routes that "land" here including those from London (5500km), Liverpool and Dublin Ireland. Branch cables run 750km from Herring Cove to Lynn, Massachusetts (north of Boston) connecting to the U.S.
Hibernia Networks began work just prior to the year 2000 ( and finished in 2003 ) to establish a 30,000 SF landing point station at Hospital Point in Herring Cove . In 2015, Hibernia Express ( later sold to Global Tech Telecommunications in 2017 ) expanded the investment when they laid the newest high tech clusters of 8 pair copper clad fiber optic cables across the Atlantic that enabled sub-50ms connections. The term "sub-50ms" speaks to the latency or delay in the internet connection signal. Today's cable connections to London provide a "ping" rate of less than 45ms and better. In layman's term, that means that a signal sent from New York for example can reach London and back again in less than 45 milliseconds. Milliseconds, that's a very big deal, the speed of light kind of a deal. The cabling laid in the initial cabling in 2003 were producing rates at only sub-70ms. Today, financial markets in New York can make virtually instantaneous trades with European markets. Very important indeed in today's business world.
The world is not connected by the "Cloud" as they say, but rather by the speed of light undersea cabling signals.
Who knew this about Herring Cove Nova Scotia anyway ? Now we know. . . .
Bergen's Historic Wharf Front -
Though second in population to the capital of Oslo, the Norwegian city of Bergen is the countries largest in port traffic and commerce for both freight and cruise ship passengers. Over 300 cruise ships travelling up and down the Norwegian coastline during the summer dock in Bergen, disembarking some 500,000 tourists on a yearly basis. Many of the cruise ships also venture inland on the many fjords. Norway has over 53,000 miles of ocean coastline, fjords, bays and inland waterways. Sognefjord, just north of Bergen, is Norway's longest and deepest fjord, stretching some 204 kilometers inland.
There is historic evidence that the City of Bergen began in the year 1020 AD and was established officially as a township in 1070 AD. Some of the two and three story gabled-roof wooden buildings seen along the eastside of Vågen Harbor wharf in the background of this photograph date from this period. Others are a little newer, around 1702, rebuilt due to devastating fires of the original buildings.This wharf area is known as old historic Bryggen (the dock) or Tyskebryggen, meaning the German dock. As trade grew more robust in the centuries after 1020, it became the central location of commerce for the Hanseatic League trading companies beginning as early as the 1300's. I have toured many of these historic wharf buildings. My Norwegian heritage as well as my personal interest in these structures as a preservation Architect and photographer, underscores to me the relevance of saving these historic remnants from the past.
The city began as a destination trade hub for German merchants who would sail into port for trade with Norwegian merchants from the north. Norwegians would trade fish products, primarily dried cod, while Germans would trade dried cereals and grains from Europe.
In modern day, Norwegians take to the roads during the summertime as well as to the waterways in their boats. Ports such as Bergen see an influx of vacationing foreign tourists and Norwegians alike. Night time activities are brisk along the wharf all throughout the summer months.
This photo was taken in August from the west side of Vågen Harbor looking east toward the old wharfside, ten o'clock at night.
The Lost City (and Lighthouses) of Saint Joseph -
The St. Joseph Bay Lighthouse was a white washed brick conical 55 foot tall tower built at the northern tip of the 15 mile long St. Joseph Bay peninsula. The oblong shaped peninsula is about 6 miles at its widest point off the Florida mainland gulf coastline and is now a wildlife preserve. The bay is open to the north and had as much as 60 feet of depth for ships seeking shelter from the Gulf storms. Built in 1838 due to the ever growing popularity of the town of St. Jospeh on the mainland, the old lighthouse marked the entry into the natural harbor of St. Joseph Bay.
Saint Joseph Bay was a perfect natural harbor for ships seeking shelter. One of the few such harbors on the gulf side of the Florida panhandle.
By 1839, Saint Joseph was Florida's largest city and flourishing to the point it rivaled Charleston and New Orleans for beauty, prestige and influence with a population of as many as 10,000. The town was laid out on a grid pattern with a majestic beauty that competed with other large cities having designated areas for houses, churches, cotton mills, brickyard, lumber mills, banks, hotels, city parks, a race track, industrial areas with warehouses for the cotton trade and then the large, wealthy slave plantations located slightly inland bordering mosquito infested uncontrolled swamp lands. Most large buildings including the warehouses were built of brick but houses and others were made of wood. Commerce Street was main street that ended with an 1800 foot long pier out into the Bay allowing railroad cars to come ship side to load bales of cotton and lumber. By all accounts, this was a thriving, booming new city on the Gulf. Hopes were high and business was good.
But along with all the good came the bad that festered corruption and according to local newspapers of the time. . . wickedness. The brothels, gaming houses, drinking establishments, gambling all were a part of it. Seaman loved docking here for those activities. At first, the town was revered more as a resort town but that quickly changed. By late 1839 it was known as Sin City throughout the territory and had an aire of vice and evil.
In September of 1840, the Schooner Herald of Boston in route north from the West Indies docked at St. Joseph to bury its captain Geo. L.L. Kupfer who had died two days earlier at sea; cause of death - yellow fever.
Other ships also docked with sailors carrying yellow fever. Sick sailors on board these ships were left behind to recover. But instead of their recovery, it led instead to an epidemic the town was not prepared to deal with. Yellow fever spread among the residents by mosquitos from the local swamps. By mid summer of 1841, inhabitants of St. Joseph had been dying by the dozens and buried in large unmarked graves in the local cemeteries. People left town by whatever means they could find with few if any of their possessions. In the fall of 1841, the town also suffered a severe fire that burnt most of the town's wooden structures and a good portion of the wharf was destroyed by a hurricane. In a period of just a few months the population shrank to only a few thousand. Historic records show that some 1100 persons in town died from yellow fever between those late months of 1840 until mid summer of 1841. Many people fled town in hopes of escaping the devastation. But what they did not know was that the yellow fever "death" followed them, they were already infected and they later died in their hometowns where they thought they were safe. By early 1843 there remained only 500 people in old Saint Joseph, then nothing more than a small fishing village. The final destruction of the town came by way of a hurricane storm surge in 1844 that broke through and over the narrowest strip of the peninsula separating the Bay from the Gulf. It leveled what was left of the once prosperous town of old Saint Joseph. By 1854, the town of Saint Joseph was no more, the last U.S. post office had closed it's doors. The town remained abandoned for some 40 years. In the early 1860's the Confederates started up a salt works factory in St. Joseph that was destroyed by shelling from a Union gunship.
The lighthouse keeper at the St. Jospeh Bay Lighthouse from 1838 until its government closing in 1847 was Ephraim Andrews who never contracted yellow fever. He had remained isolated from the mainland and the town while living out on the northern point of the peninsula.
In 1902 the area saw a resurgence with a new town called Port St. Joe, located about two miles north of the old town site. The new town even today still shares the old cemeteries, segregated into blacks and whites including the large unmarked grave sites of the yellow fever victims. The mainstay of the new town was not only cotton and lumber but also oranges brought in by rail. The resurged popularity of the area also brought the need for a new light station located on the mainland at Beacon Hill and just slightly north of town in parallel with the original St. Joseph Bay Light at the north end of the peninsula some five miles west. The Beacon Hill light was actually a rear range light and built more like a private square shaped house with wrap around porch having a lantern atop. It was deactivated in 1960 and sold to a local farmer in 1967 for $300 who moved it inland and used it as a barn. The lantern was destroyed in the move. It again was sold and moved in 1978 to Simmons Bayou on St. Joseph Bay. That owner took decades to restore the lighthouse structure to its former glory including a new lantern atop but without the lens itself. The photo of this lighthouse now named the St. Joseph Point Lighthouse is included above in this post. It is located about 8 miles south of the current township of Port St. Joe.
The Cape San Blas Light at the southern tip of the peninsula, since its inception, has been under the threat of destruction from the constant erosion and storms of the Gulf. The Air Force closed the Lighthouse District in 2012 and had considered dismantling the skeletal light tower permanently. But through negotiations and release of ownership of the Light and the keepers dwellings in 2013, the Cape San Blas Light and dwellings (see the last blog on our website: https://www.capobeachphotos.com/blog) were relocated in 2014 some 12 miles north, to Core Park in Port St. Joe where it stands permanently on display for visitors and local town folk alike.
Photo taken with Nikon D850; Lens: VR24-120mm set at 38mm; AF-S; f/14 at 1/50s; Manual Exposure; ISO 125.
Cape San Blas Lighthouse -
Mariners needed to be warned of the shoals that projected out from Cape San Blas located in St. Joseph's peninsula on the Gulf side of Florida. So in 1847 Congress appropriated $8000 to the effort of erecting a lighthouse. The original light was a 85 foot tall conical brick tower designed to warn sailors some 10 miles out into the hurricane stricken Gulf of Mexico. But the story of this particular lighthouse would continue for another century and a half.
In 1851, the first tower was destroyed by a hurricane. Then in 1857 a new conical brick tower was again erected. This time the tower was devastated by the Union troops from the USS Kingfisher war ship in the early years of the Civil War burning out all the wooded parts, including the staircase and the keepers quarters. The locals had hidden away the lens, the oil and other tools nearby for future use. In July of 1865 the lighthouse regained its operational status.
But like a relentless enemy, by 1869 it was very obvious the gulf was taking its toll of erosion in and around the light tower. In 1875 there was only 150 feet left of beach and by 1882 the base of the tower was standing in 8 feet of salt water.
It came to pass in 1883 that a new skeletal tower was needed which could withstand the fierce winds off the Gulf. So it was that 1500 feet from the high water line was the spot for this new steel framed high tower. The tower had eight steel framed legs and a concrete foundation pedestal. The center cylinder of the tower housed a small, claustrophobic circular stairway to access the lantern room at the top of the tower. The concept behind the design was that the tower was more light weight and would not sink into the soft sand and the tower could now forcefully withstand the high winds of the storms. The tower withstood the storms but unfortunately could not overcome the constant erosion of the Gulf storm surges. In 1885 the new 98 foot tall tower was lit. By 1890 only 144 feet remained of the beach and the tower was again in danger. In 1894 another Gulf storm damaged the tower and left it in standing water. This condition remained until in 1916, with yet another hurricane storm causing more damage, plans were made to move the tower inland. The tower had been fitted in 1905 with a French made third-order Fresnel clam shell type lens design that allowed the light to be seen 16 miles out to sea, it indeed was a useful navigational aid that saved many a mariner in this part of the Gulf Coast of Florida.
By 1999, the U.S. Air force took possession of the light tower and the keeper dwellings and made significant restoration efforts. The Light Station District was closed by the Air Force in 2012 due again to rapid erosion of the Gulf coastline. In February 2013 the nearby township of Port St. Joe, located about twelve miles to the north, received possession of the lighthouse and the keepers dwellings. New iron screw type piling foundations were installed for the tower to be located in the local park and in July 2014, the city relocated the structures after having moved it up Highway 30A unto Highway 98 to their city park where the structures were to be preserved in perpetuity. The US Coast Guard still owns the third-order Fresnel lens used in the tower.
Hurricane Michael in October of 2018 again devastated the entire area in and around Cape San Blas, Port Saint Joe and Panama City Beach to the north. Tyndall Air Force base located just 12 miles east of Panama City Beach also sustained significant damage. The "eye" of the Category 5 hurricane passed directly over Tyndall AFB.
Beach Highway 98 was rendered in accessible as a result of this storm with significant loss of sand dunes, pavement, sink holes and surf erosion. Hundreds of coastal beach homes were destroyed or significantly damaged. The Cape San Blas light tower having been relocated to Port St. Joe survived with only minimal damage. The Keeper's dwellings however suffered damage that needed major repairs. As of March 2019, the structures were again opened for visitors.
Having travelled through this area of Florida in February 2020, I personally saw the devastation from Category 5 Hurricane Michael still apparent 18 months later. What was originally categorized as a Category 2 hurricane grew into a Cat 5 with hours on October 18, 2018. Foundation concrete stilts still remain in place but without any house structure above. Roof and siding panels ripped off homes, condominiums and forests of trees for as far as the the can see snapped in two about twenty feet off the ground. Highway 98 is repaired and rebuilt for the most part but still showing signs of sinking and erosion. Highway reconstruction is still ongoing. It is estimated it will take 8 to 10 years for full recovery, if ever. In Panama City, the mayor approximates that about 10,000 residents have permanently relocated out of the area due to Hurricane Michael. The hurricane caused 45 deaths either directly or indirectly with a total recovery cost of about $25.1 billion.
Norwegian Getaways -
In the big scheme of things, most everyone enjoys getting away from the hectic hustle of the city life albeit for a short time just to decompress. Norwegians have made this a nationally ingrained lifestyle choice.
In Norway, there are over 450,000 cabins or "hytte(r)". Over half of all Norwegians have access to a cabin getaway, whether that be as a family member, a friend or owning one themselves. In decades past, these cabins have been one or two room structures with no electricity and certainly not Wi-Fi. However, such cabins are becoming a thing of the past and they are turning into nothing short of a second home with multiple rooms all while enjoying a simple way of life.
Cabins are so popular in Norway they have become cherished family possessions and can stay in families for generations. A place for solitude and tranquility all while enjoying their preferred location to do so whether it be on the coast, nestled high in the mountains or even on a lake. Norwegians are traditionally a people who revere privacy and love the coziness of living in nature. The idea of secluding one's self with unspoiled nature is almost sacred. Norwegians have a culture of loving outdoor activities regardless of the season. Most days at a cabin are spent outdoors regardless of the weather. Vacationing in nature is a national symbol of Norwegian pride in their own image of themselves, an ideology if you will. This brings with it a clean, simple yet comfortable and private lifestyle. Cabins tend to be more plain and comfortable rather than flamboyant regardless of how well off one might be in daily city life. It represents a respect for and love of nature to surround one's self with the peacefulness of nature, appreciating God's created environment for their enjoyment. And Norway has plenty of nature to enjoy. Cabins represent an opportunity to cross country ski, fish on a lake, hike in the hills, or day pack into the mountains and into forests. Or just sitting on an open deck at the cabin while soaking in the warmth of the sun.
It should be mentioned that outdoor activities noted above are not limited to just your own property. Norwegian laws provide for unrestricted free access to wander, even across someone else's property. It is not considered trespassing to cross someone's land to get to where you want to go. And any liability is not on the land owner but on you. You can not sue someone for getting hurt on their property. It is a given that you are allowed to roam while respecting the property you are crossing.
The Telephone -
Alexander Graham Bell, his wife Mabel and two young children found this part of upper Nova Scotia to their liking, when in 1885 on a cruising vacation to Newfoundland, they first discovered this area including Bras d'Or Lake. Within several years, the Bells acquired 600 acres on the peninsula seen in the distance behind the lighthouse. This area of the small peninsula was renamed Beinn Bhreagh by Bell, meaning "beautiful mountain" in the Scotish Gaelic or Goidelic language, since it was reminiscent of his birthplace in Edinburgh Scotland. A small house was built on the property overlooking Baddeck Bay to the south from the property and with clear views of the original lighthouse built in 1875 on Kidston Island (formerly known as Mutton Island).
By 1893 the Bells had completed a larger, turreted 'summer house' with a mere 32 rooms that has become known as The Point. The purchase of the land and the building of the mansion was primarily possible due to Bell's invention and subsequent patent of the telephone in 1876. In his adjacent laboratories and on site boatyard, Bell along with other partners, went on to accomplish additional experiments such as the tetrahedral kite, the Canada's first controlled powered flight airplane, known as the AEA Silver Dart in 1909, and the HD-4 Hydrofoil boat in 1919. The boat was intended to be used as a submarine chaser and did set a world watercraft speed record at the time of 114 km/h (71mph). Bell and his wife both passed away in 1922 and are buried on their estate.
The first lighthouse, built in 1875 on the NE tip of Kidston Island was intended to light the way for mariners into Baddeck Harbour. It was operationally replaced with a fifty foot tall, more visible light in 1912. However, both towers remained in place for many years but the original tower was razed in 1959 after falling into disrepair. By 1991, the second tower built in 1912, received a major replacement and the result is as seen in the photo above. Access to Kidston Island and the lighthouse is only by way of scheduled tour boats. This photo was shot with a 500mm telephoto lens with tripod from the shores of the harbour in the town of Baddeck.
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