Taking advantage of a day (2/5/11) when professional contracting work was being done in the lantern of Cape Elizabeth Light, a group of American Lighthouse Foundation volunteers gathered at the lighthouse to simultaneously carry out some housekeeping inside the tower.
No sooner had the volunteers arrived and tried to open the entry door to the lighthouse, they knew something wasn’t right. Though the door was unlocked, it hardly budged. A little more force was applied, but still an opposing mystery force resisted the metal door’s movement.
Finally, with great exertion, the volunteers were able to open the door just wide enough to slip in behind.
To the surprise of the group, they found approximately three feet of snow packed up against the interior base of the metal door. Before the volunteers could go about their housekeeping tasks, they had to – of all things, shovel snow from inside the lighthouse.
The best the volunteers could determine, the snow appeared to have piled up inside thanks to a window vent on the east side of the tower. Evidence of snow also coated the window sill and steps below, but nothing like the amazing pile at the base of the door.
Such a winter scene inside Cape Elizabeth Light prompted the volunteers to contemplate the far-reaching fingers of a wind-driven storm, and how this type of adverse situation only compounds the challenges of lighthouse preservation.
Once all the snow was cleaned up inside, the ALF volunteers went about cleaning the lantern’s windowpanes and tower windows, as well as wiping down all the woodwork that adorns the interior of the lighthouse.
Armed with recommended procedures for cleaning historic glass and wood, the volunteers used materials that would protect the historic fabric of these tower components.
Afterward, the luster of the elegant tower was a touch renewed thanks to the efforts of the ALF volunteers – and some unexpected snow removal!