Monday, April 24, 2017
One of my favorite lighthouses around is in Fall River. This is odd, because I tend to romanticize lighthouses as isolated things on the end of a lonely beach. In that regard, it's odd to see one while I'm eating Popeye's chicken in the car.
Borden Flats Lighthouse sits at the mouth of the Taunton River, where it empties out into Mount Hope Bay. If I were a better photographer, you'd see how cool it looks there, but that's why you can read this for free.
Borden Flats Lighthouse was erected in 1881. It, and the flats it sits on, are named for the famous Borden family of Fall River. The Bordens may have had a daughter turn up in the news at some point for some reason or another, I'm not sure....
I think the Borden family may have been into hotels, because the Lizzie Borden house is now a B&B. The Borden Flats Lighthouse, which looks pretty much like a lighthouse to me, is actually a hotel!
The actual good pictures are lifted from the Borden Flats Lighthouse website.
Fall River, a bustling textile town in the 1800s, got a lot of shipping traffic, as well as steamboat ferry action. Mount Hope Bay is rather shallow, and Borden Flats were ship-wrecking treacherous. It was formerly marked by an unlit beacon. $25K was set aside for construction of the lighthouse.
It went into action on October 1, 1881. It had a kerosene-fed fourth order Fresnel lens, and you know that I have no idea what that means. It got a modern plastic lens in 1977.
It was electrified in 1957, automated in 1963, and the fog bell was replaced by an electronic foghorn in 1983... a mistake in my view, but I also don't live near/have to listen to it.
The 1938 hurricane didn't topple Borden Flats Lighthouse, but it did give it a Pisa-style tilt that you notice once someone points it out to you. They built an additional caisson around it to keep it from having a ruined-castle style look.
In 2000, the lighthouse was auctioned off to Cindy and Craig Korstad, who are in the Buy Lighthouses And Turn Them Into Hotels business. I think they dropped $53K on it, then many K more renovating it.
It stands 50 feet tall, it has a 250 mm white light that flashes every 2.5 seconds, The foghorn goes off every 10 seconds, or- as Elwood Blues said when showing his apartment to Joliet Jake- "so often you won't notice it after a while." It is an active US Coast Guard aid to navigation, and is of the "Spark Plug" variety.
It seems to be tastefully decorated, and it looks delicate enough that I will be on the "Don't touch anything!!" prohibition orders from my photographer when we tour it.
That's right... you can tour it for $20 a pop. You can also stay the night, for rates as low as $299 a night off-season.
Here's what I can learn about it from the website without calling the people like a real reporter does:
- Swimming is "strongly discouraged" as this is both a shipping channel and not too far down the coast from where the last fatal shark attack in Massachusetts happened. The current is around 7 knots, and the lighthouse is surrounded by large, diver-paralyzing rocks.
- It runs off solar panels, so having Chief Brody kill the shark by tricking it into biting the electric wire running to the lighthouse isn't a viable exit strategy.
- Just like when it was built in 1881, the lighthouse has a DVD player and can get local stations on the TV. It lacks WiFi.
- The best access is from Borden Light Marina, the trip takes 5 minutes. I'm not sure if they ferry you over themselves. It would be a heroic swim, especially while carrying luggage.
- BYOB allowed, no smoking inside.
- You call 911 for emergencies, unless you know the Sea Mafia or perhaps even Aquaman. They say that the Justice League only keeps Aquaman around in case trouble arises at the Borden Flats Lighthouse.
- The Coast Guard has 24/7/365 access rights to the lighthouse.
- Sunsets are amazing from the lantern room. I'd imagine that the rest of the day is pretty nice up there, too.
- The lighthouse, like every other one, is haunted. The ghosts seem to be a giggling little girl, a classical music fan, and one of the keepers entering the lower floor while you're on an upper one.
- If you dream of buying a lighthouse, understand that there is Herculean maintenance involved. "You can't buy it and visit it once a year, your investment will wash into the sea." Much of the hotel revenue is poured back into the lighthouse via renovations and maintenance.
- Two guests only, and no pets allowed... even seals.
- The picture below is from US Coast Guard, circa 1900: