December 27, 2021

VP-60 Reunion Countdown


Hope you’ve had a great December with all the ups and downs with the
weather. Our prayers are still ongoing for those who were impacted by the
tornados and other severe weather along with Covid 19 variants!!

It’s fast approaching 90 days until we meet for the reunion in beautiful
Pensacola. With that in mind, we thought you might want to know more about
the base. So for now we’ll look at the lighthouse located on the beach
between the Chief’s Club (where our meet and greet will occur on Thursday
March 31st) and the Oak Grove Campground and Cottages. Here’s a link to the
lighthouse web page if you want a visual tour.

In March of 1823, Congress authorized $6,000 for the Pensacola Lighthouse.
To serve the port until the lighthouse was finished, the floating light
vessel Aurora Borealis was transferred from the mouth of the Mississippi,
where the Frank’s Island Lighthouse had just been completed. The vessel was
positioned in calm waters behind the western end of Santa Rosa Island. A site
just west of Fort Barrancas was selected for the lighthouse. Ships would be able
to steer directly towards the light to enter the harbor, something that was not
possible with the lightship.

On March 24, 1824, Winslow Lewis, responding to an advertisement in the
Boston Patriot, offered to build the lighthouse and dwelling for $4,927.
For an additional cost of $750, Lewis would “fit up and Light the Light
House with ten patent Lamps and ten fourteen inch Reflectors and furnish
two spare Lamps, six double tin oil butts to hold ninety gallons each, six
wooden boxes, One lantern canister, and trivet. One tube box. One wick box. One
oil carrier. One torch. One hand lantern Lamp. One oil feeder. Two files. Two
pairs of scissors. Six wick formers and have it completed in thirty days after
the Light House is finished.” Lewis’ offer was accepted by Stephen Pleasonton,
fifth auditor of the Treasury, on April 2, 1824.

The new tower was first lit on December 20, 1824, by bachelor Jeremiah
Ingraham. To produce a flashing signature, two groups of five lamps were
fastened to opposite ends of a framework, which was rotated by a clockwork
system. After two years at the post, Ingraham married Michaela Penalber of
Pensacola. Together, they managed the light and raised three children at
the station. When Jeremiah passed away in 1840, Michaela took over
responsibility for the light. In the late 1840s, the clockwork mechanism
failed and two men were hired to rotate the lamps by hand until repairs
were made. Michaela served until her own death in 1855, when her
son-in-law, Joseph Palmes, was hired as the keeper.

By 1850, regular complaints were starting to be voiced regarding the
lighthouse. Trees on Santa Rosa Island were said to block the light, and
the light was considered too dim. In 1852, the newly established Lighthouse
Board recommended that a “first-class seacoast light” with a height no less
than 150 feet be built at Pensacola. Congress allocated $25,000 for the
lighthouse in 1854, and an additional $30,000 in 1856. A site was selected
one-half mile west of the original lighthouse, and work on the tower was
supervised by John Newton of the Army Corps of Engineers. The construction was
completed in 1858, and the lamp in the tower’s first-order Fresnel lens was
first lit on New Year’s Day, 1859 by Keeper Palmes. The tower stood
159-feet-tall and was painted white. The base of the tower had a diameter of 30
feet, tapering to a diameter of 15 feet at the top.

Now that you know a little history, you can plan a day visit during the
reunion and climb the steps to the top (if you have the stamina). The view
at the top is worth the effort!!!

Stay tuned for other things about Pensacola.

Just in case you misplaced the reservation form, download it HERE:

*OH!! One other thing, we don’t want to be outnumbered by VP-90 folks
so…Keep those reservations coming.*

The Rodeway Inn and Suites (formally Ashton Inn and Suites) is located at
910 North Navy Blvd (close to the main gate) and their phone number is
850-455-4561. Reference the VP-60/VP-90 reunion for group rates.

The phone number for the Gateway Inn and Suites is 877-628-9233 and the
Group Number is 30760110423. They would like to have the group number when
making reservations.

Looking forward to seeing you at the reunion.

Your friendly (and hard at work) Reunion Committee!!