June 13, 2012

Spring Break 2012 - Day 7 - Cape Canaveral - part 2

location-Cape Canaveral, FL
active beacon-yes
players-Jen, John, Lincoln, Spencer and Jackson

Now on to part 2 of our Patrick Air Force Base tour.  (see part 1 here)  After exploring the bunk house, where the launches were controlled from, we loaded back on the bus.  Time to head to the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse!  On the way there, we passed the original lamp room. It was too old and weak and was refabricated and replaced in 2006.

original top of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse
Ray Osborne, author, speaking about the lighthouse

Here is the info on the sign.  "On May 21, 1838, Florida territorial delegate Charles Downing requested a lighthouse be built on Cape Canaveral.  The first lighthouse completed in Jan. 1838 stood 65-feet tall, had a 55-foot tower and a 10-foot lantern room equipped with 15 lamps on on 21-inch reflectors.  The brick tower and keeper's home cost under $13,300.  Nathaniel Scobie oversaw construction and appointed the first keeper.  With the advent of the Civil War, S. Mallory, Confederate Navy Secretary,  ordered Florida east coast lighthouses "extinguished."  Keeper Mills Burnham removed the lamp and buried it in his orange grove.  A state-of-the-art, 151-foot iron tower was erected in 1868 and topped with a 1st Order Fresnel lens.  The tower's living quarters were used for storage and a weather station.  In 1871 a storm surge washed over the lighthouse area spoiling lamp oil and drinking water.  This and shoreline erosion caused the lighthouse to be moved.  From Oct. 1893 to Jul. 1894 the tower was dismantled, moved by tram on mile inland and re-erected, along with a 1st and 2nd assistant's and keeper's homes, to its present location.  In 1939 the Coast Guard took ownership.  In 2000 stewardship was transferred to the 45th Space Wind, Patrick Air Force Base."

We were able to explore the lighthouse for about a half an hour.  The light is still active, so we couldn't climb all the way to the top.  But, we were allowed to climb up to the 5th floor from the inside and go back down through an outside stair case.  It was a pretty smart set up.  Plus, it kept the traffic flowing and we didn't have to wait for people to come down before we went up. That worked out well for us, because John and I have to take turns watching Jackson and climbing up with the big boys.  


When this lighthouse was originally erected, the keepers actually lived in the tower.  The staircase is right in the middle and the round rooms surround it.  It has three floors of living areas - a living room, bedrooms and a kitchen.    It was pretty neat set up, but I can imagine that it was pretty cramped.  The reason for the additional staircase on the outside was to allow access to the lamp without going through the living quarters.

Daddy & Spencer

After the lighthouse, we had one more stop to make.  We had the opportunity to walk around the actual launching area. Along the way, we drove by the Mercury 7 monument.  It was dedicated to the original seven American astronauts of 1959.   The Mercury 7 are - Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper and Deke Slayton. 

John Glenn's parking spot
all this exploring is
 catching up with Spencer
Jax sees his opportunity
"I can't let him miss the launchpad!"
"I will smother him in kisses."

Getting to see and walk around an actual launch pad was a pretty amazing experience.  The kids thought it was cool, but obviously they didn't fully grasp the enormity of what they were seeing.  It's definitely still worth while to do this kind of stuff with them.  After they go, they want to learn more and actually having the visual in their minds goes a long way.

under the launch pad

These cement benches are a memorial to the crew of Apollo I.  Each bench has a name engraved commander on it - U.S.A.F. Lt. Colonel Virgil I Grissom, U.S.A.F. Lt. Colonel Edward H. White II and U.S.N. Lt. Commander Roger B. Chaffee. 

the launchpad

We walked around the launch pad for about 20 minutes, then boarded the bus one last time to take us back to the Air Force Space and Missile Museum.  I would definitely recommend this tour.  There is no other place on earth that you can learn about the history of US space exploration and explore a lighthouse all in one tour!  As I said earlier, the tour is completely free. Although, the gift shop might get you.  They did say that all the proceeds go to preserving the grounds, so that justifies any and all purchases in my mind!

one last view from the bus
Patrick AFB is also the home of Space X
Jackson never tires of his own cute face!


  1. Great job! And thanks so much for writing about our lighthouse.

    Historically yours,

    Ray Osborne



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