Fresnel Lenses Given a New Watch
These diadems of lighthouse majesty once scintillated like no other at the pinnacle of classical times. And what a splendid age it was! For there was a day when every lighthouse entrusted with the noble mission of saving lives was crowned with a Fresnel lens. The eminence of a lighthouse attained royal regard upon the deep thereafter as its radiant regalia shone forth unrivaled.
Alas, innovation is irresistible. Though the sea never changes, time has marched forward in concurrent fashion with light – altering all that has been illuminated amidst frontiers previously unknown. The passage is deemed advancement. The desire to achieve anew is lauded. But as is the case with all exploits, what once held sway is thereby required to stand down.
This particular group of gems – hailing from remote locales along the Maine coast, now reside in a most unique repository. The lighthouses they served at are like the names of old friends. There is the legendary Matinicus Rock, the wave-swept Cuckolds and island solitude from Isle au Haut.
Au courant beacons eventually supplanted these venerable lenses for reasons of practicality and efficiency we’re told. When these treasures of glass prisms and brass were lowered from their exalted realms, many a memory was left to linger in lanterns now a bit less grandiose. And many a memory did the lenses carry with them.
We are blessed that their stories still shimmer, for each work of art shares much in common. Bright was their light in times of storm and tranquility. Their sparkling countenance was perpetually dazzling thanks to the caring hands of keepers who polished every prism as prescribed and their unfailing service to the mariner was beloved by all. Yet still there is one more thing each lens shares – they had a dear friend named Ken who ensured them a new “watch” evermore at the Maine Lighthouse Museum.
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