Here is the third in a series of photographs centered on the early history of space flight on Cape Canaveral mostly taken during a tour organized by the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. Google the foundation for details of future tours. Here we start with Roman Numerals and end with Rocket Research.
Inscribed Roman Numerals
We were lucky to be on this tour, for a period of time the Air Force closed off the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse Foundation obtained permission to start this tour in 2016 (this was January 2018) and I happened to discover it while poking around in preparation for the SpaceX “Falcon Heavy” launch in early February 2018.
As Pam and I climbed, each floor docent (volunteer guide) was so helpful with information and hospitality. At the last floor, the stairway to the upper floors was roped off. Top levels were closed, Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is operational. Here is a photograph of the closed off staircase. There is a roman numeral “6” (VI) inscribed in the staircase column. This is the numbering system described in the first post, “Cape Canaveral Lighthouse,” by which the entire 151 foot lighthouse can be disassembled/reassembled as was done in the 19th century.
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The fine finish of the handrail termination for the stairs to upper floors is an example of 19th century attention to detail.
Macro of numeral inscrption on a lower floor stairway column.
View of Space History from the Portals
The lower staircase support column was much wider with space for illustrations and displays. Here is a reproduction of a watercolor of the lighthouse from the earliest days of rocketry on the cape. The lighthouse keeper, assistant and their families lived alongside the tower. The housing was later razed. The Lighthouse Foundation is raising money to build reproductions of the housing.
The painting is an accurate representation of the tower. The dark spots are the windows, or portals, captured in my last post, “Lighthouse Details.” Every portal offered a view of historical or current rocketry. In the following photograph, beyond the outbuilding, is a blockhouse, protection for the early rocket scientists, now abandoned. The structure services launch complex 21 and 22. More in a later post.
Wreckage with Recollections of Werner von Braun
Depending on your viewpoint, the landscape around the tower is either littered with or graced by relics such as the wreckage in the following photograph.
As we stood on the exterior staircase, looking toward the building in the following photograph, the docent told a story of Werner von Braun, how he loved to smoke cigaretts and watch rocket tests from the top of the lighthouse. After some spectactular failures, for reasons of personal saftey he was excluded from the tower. His office during the development of the Minute Man and Persing missles was in this building.
This view overlooks the former sites of Minute Man and Persing rocket development. Beyond the launch towers is Port Cape Canaveral, visible to the right are large cruise ships.
Looking from portals facing northeast is this view across ICBM road and its many launch sites. We will visit these in a future post.