Rio History: The Padre Island Lighthouse

first_imgBy STEVE HATHCOCKSpecial to the PRESSEvery now and then I am asked about light houses on Padre Island.Today if a visitor to the Island wanted to explore an old lighthouse, they would need to make their way across the Laguna Madre to Port Isabel where they will find a perfectly preserved stone tower measuring some 80 feet in height. This structure sits in the center of Lighthouse Square and is surrounded by gift shops and restaurants and draws thousands of visitors each year. But Port Isabel has not always had a monopoly on lighthouses.The earliest mention of a light on Padre Island was contained in an article carried in the 1853 issue of American Seamen’s Friend Society, which was a journal of the day devoted to the needs of the modern mariner. The editor described a new light that had been established on the southern end of Padre Island, and north of the Brazos PassageThe light was placed atop a square tower constructed of wood, painted black, which sat atop wheels so that it could be moved about in much the same manner as the men of Troy moved the horse into the city. Because of its color it was easily distinguished from other objects by day. Its light could be seen 3.5 miles out to sea. The keeper’s house was located about a quarter mile from it.In 1855, lighthouse inspector W.H. Stevens submitted the following report:“Sir: In accordance with the annual circular from the Light-house Board, I have the honor to submit the following report on light-house service in my district:A new dwelling for the keeper at Point Isabel light-house has been built, and a new structure for the beacon at Padre Island, Brazos St. Jago, to receive the 5th order lens belonging to that light. The general condition of the different branches of the lighthouse service is, I believe, unexceptionable. The want of clerkly ability among some of the keepers causes some unsightly returns, but all are honest and faithful.I do not anticipate any extensive repairs or renovations during the ensuing year, except for the dwelling of the keeper of the beacon light on Padre Island. This house should be removed, so as to be nearer the beacon, and will need some repairs. It was never completely finished. The sum of $500 will cover the necessary expense.”The following year the tower received a 5th order Fresnel lens making its light 35 feet above sea level. It was used as an entrance light for Brazos Pass. At the onset of the Civil War, the Confederates destroyed the Padre Island light. The Point Isabel light, with its 4-foot thick walls, resisted several attempts to blow it up. Not to be totally defeated in their effort to extinguish the powerful beacon, Confederate Rip Ford ordered the removal of the lens, which effectively neutralized any night use of the tower.The lighthouse board established a temporary light on Padre Island in 1864 and immediately sought funding for a permanent tower. Ten years later a hurricane washed the wooden structure away and Congress appropriated $25,000 for a new tower.Surprisingly, it took 4 years for the Board to obtain the site, which was located just to the south of the present day Coast Guard Station, from the State of Texas. Construction of a frame dwelling on screw piles in began in 1878. The keeper exhibited the light, which was perched above the living quarters, on March 1, 1879. That same year the board established a fixed light atop a square white tower 25 feet in height on the south side of Brazos Santiago. (This light was destroyed in a hurricane sometime in the 1880s.)The Padre Island Light caught fire and burned on March 8, 1940. A low power, temporary light was put in place but it was some time before the radio beacon was replaced. Blackouts were in effect during most of the war years and Padre Island itself was quarantined. The old light finally faded into obscurity and has since been dismantled.An era had come to an end.Want the whole story? Pick up a copy of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here. RelatedWriter’s Block: Birds of a FeatherBy DINA ARÉVALO Port Isabel-South Padre Press If you drive down Highway 100, just west of the Port Isabel city limits and out past Laguna Heights, you’ll see a familiar sight. To the right, between the bay and the road, is a blur of dusty green vegetation. Thick brushy weeds,…February 26, 2016In “Editor’s Column”Lighthouse officially reopensBy DINA ARÉVALO Port Isabel-South Padre Press After more than a year spent hidden beneath a layer of scaffolding, the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse was officially reopened to visitors Tuesday. The City of Port Isabel, in partnership with the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce, celebrated the reopening of the iconic…January 26, 2018In “News”Rio History: Treasure Hunting at Isla Blanca ParkBy STEVE HATHCOCK Special to the PRESS The tide was out when we arrived at Isla Blanca Park at the southernmost tip of South Padre Island. My friend John headed to the water to hunt for jewelry while I worked my way south to a small sandbar that is only…January 18, 2019In “News” Sharelast_img read more

Taylor Swift makes history at Billboard Music Awards

first_img“It’s unbelievable that the fans went out and proved what they proved this year, and that’s the only reason I won eight awards,” Swift said in an interview with The Associated Press following her wins.“Is it eight? Did I win eight awards?” she asked excitedly. “Yeah, sick.”Swift’s video opened with her and Selena Gomez fighting men in an office and then fighting each other. It ended with Swift’s and Gomez’s armies going head to head. Other stars in the clip included Mariska Hargitay, Ellen Pompeo, Jessica Alba and Ellie Goulding, and Hayley Williams of Paramore.Swift swapped her first two verses with new ones from rapper Kendrick Lamar for “Bad Blood,” a song rumored to be about Swift’s friendship with Katy Perry.Swift’s other wins included top female artist and Billboard 200 album for “1989.” She sat in the audience with some of her “Bad Blood” co-stars as well as rumored boyfriend Calvin Harris. Swift kissed the DJ-producer-singer on the cheek and gave him a hug after winning her awards.“I’m happy right now that it all was pulled off without a hitch,” an excited Swift said in the AP interview about her new video. “I can’t believe it didn’t leak. I can’t believe the Kendrick version of the song didn’t leak. Right now I am just taking the biggest sigh of relief that the fans got to experience it the way I wanted them to experience it, which was a full element of surprise.”Though Swift had an epic open of the Billboard Awards with her video, Kanye West’s closing off the show was tragic. The rapper was booed in Las Vegas when he performed “All Day” and “Black Skinhead.” The stage was smoky and it was hard to see West at times.“And now a doctor,” Kylie Jenner said when introducing West, who earned an honorary doctorate from the Art Institute of Chicago.Others had a good night though onstage. Iggy Azalea, Pharrell and Sam Smith — who is recovery from vocal cord surgery — won three awards each.One Direction picked up two awards and gave a shout-out to former band mate Zayn Malik.“There is one more person to share this with, and that’s our brother Zayn,” Liam Payne said when the boy band won top duo/group.Van Halen was the night’s first performance and rocked the crowd with its 1984 hit “Panama.” The Simple Minds, introduced by Molly Ringwald, performed “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from “The Breakfast Club,” which is celebrating 30 years.Britney Spears sported a sheer black cat suit when she performed “Pretty Girls” with Azalea; Mariah Carey, who recently launched a Vegas residency, was pitchy when she sang “Vision of Love” and new single, “Infinity,” though she ended with a strong high note; and Nicki Minaj’s performance of “Hey Mama” and “The Night Is Still Young” featured her dancing more than singing or rapping as she relied on a backing track.The night had some emotional moments, too: Chris Brown entered the red carpet holding his daughter Royalty; Ludacris offered some words about the late B.B. King and his renowned career; and a teary and shaky Meghan Trainor won hot 100 song and digital song for “All About That Bass.”Other double winners included Jason Aldean, Hozier, Enrique Iglesias and John Legend.“I have to thank, of course, my beautiful co-host, my lovely wife, Chrissy Teigen,” Legend said when he won top radio song for “All of Me.”“I am so proud that we won this award together tonight.”Hosts Ludacris and Teigen offered some jokes Sunday night: The rapper described why he’s a good host, namechecking his music and acting credits. Teigen, a model, replied, “And I bang a musician” as Legend stood up.___Online: LAS VEGAS | Taylor Swift had a historic night at the Billboard Music Awards: The pop star is the most decorated artist in the show’s history with 20 wins, beating Garth Brooks’ 19-win record.She won eight awards Sunday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, including top artist, and also opened the show with the premiere of her action-filled, star-studded music video for “Bad Blood.” Taylor Swift poses in the press room with the awards for top Billboard 200 album for “1989,” top female artist, chart achievement, top artist, top Billboard 200 artist, top hot 100 artist, top digital song artist, and top streaming song (video) for “Shake It Off” at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Eric Jamison/Invision/AP)last_img read more

Using a coldframe is like moving your garden south

first_imgIn one weekend, you could effectively move your garden — or at least part of it — a few hundred miles south. If you’re handy, you could do it in less than a day.Do this by building a coldframe — a bottomless box with a clear plastic or glass cover.Heat trapped in a coldframe keeps lettuce, spinach, and other hardy salad greens fresh and growing throughout winter. This warmed area can also provide a winter home for rooted cuttings and perennials that are not quite cold-hardy. In the coldframe, plants might grow right in the ground or in containers.Next spring, use the coldframe to start or harden off seedlings or for earlier vegetables or flowers. The sun’s warmth, trapped within a coldframe, keeps the box warmer later into fall and in winter, then advances the season there in spring.This undated photo shows a bi-fold coldframe in New Paltz, N.Y. Seedlings can keep warm and cozy even in cold weather when the bi-fold cover of this coldframe is closed to capture and hold the sun’s warmth. (Lee Reich via AP)BUILD ITSelect some sort of clear covering for a coldframe first, because the rest of the structure will be built to accommodate its size. Typical dimensions are some multiple of about 2-by-5 feet.An old window sash is often available for free, is already mounted in a wooden frame, and is conveniently sized for single or multiple use.Various kinds of plastic are another option. Plastic has the advantage of being less breakable than glass, and it can be cut with standard woodworking tools. Make rectangular frames from 1-by-2 or 2-by-2 wood, glued, braced and screwed at the corners. Either screw the plastic to the frame or create grooves into which the plastic can slide.Polycarbonate plastic is an especially good choice. It resists degradation in sunlight, so is often used for greenhouses, and comes in double wall to increase its ability to hold in heat.To capture the most sunlight and let rainfall run off, the top of the coldframe should slope down from the back to the front. Create this sloping box in two sections, using 1-by-12 or 2-by-12 lumber.For the lower section, merely join the lumber in a rectangle that corresponds to the dimensions of the cover(s). Rot-resistant lumber lasts longest, but any lumber can be used if you screw a sacrificial 2-inch strip of wood onto all the edges that will make ground contact. Unscrew and replace this strip when it rots away.For the upper part of the box, cut another 12-inch-wide board the same length as either of the sides. With a straightedge, draw a diagonal line from one corner to another, then cut along this line. For the upper back of the box, cut a board to the same length as the bottom back of the box. Screw the three pieces together.Attach the upper part of the box to the lower part with 2-by-2 lumber, two 22-inch lengths and two 11-inch lengths, screwed into the corners. These 2-by-2’s also strengthen the coldframe.COVER ITUsually, covers are hinged to the base at the rear, making them easy to prop up to varying degrees, depending on sunlight and temperature.Another option is to hinge adjacent covers together side by side, and then hinge one of the sides to the edge of the base. This cover opens and closes like a bi-fold door, with its free edge resting on the base to prop it open.If the area isn’t too windy, covers could be free of hinges, merely sliding up and down on the base frame.USE ITThe covering will have to be opened on bright sunny days, sometimes even in winter and surely as the sun grows stronger in spring. One piece of scrap board, cut 12 inches long by 6 inches wide, per covered section makes a convenient prop. Use the flat side — about an inch thick — to crack the one or more covers open for slight venting. Progress to the 6-inch dimension and then the 12-inch one when more venting is needed as spring approaches.A coldframe adds a useful and interesting dimension to your gardening. Monitor and adjust temperatures, water, and fertility closely, and watch how your plants respond. read more