Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wolf Trap Light

There are a couple of lighthouses in and around Mathews County, and one is known as Wolf Trap Light.

Depending on the amount of haze, fog or cloud cover on a given day, Wolf Trap is visible just off shore from our county beaches, where the Chesapeake Bay Family went treasure hunting the other day. If you click on the photo above to enlarge it, the light is barely visible in the lower right part of the horizon. Or that may just be a speck on my computer screen so never mind. But the point is, it's visible on a clear day.

The name Wolf Trap is an unusual one, to say the least. To the best of my knowledge, we don't have any wolves, and even if we do, we sure as heck don't have any frolicking offshore in the bay that would need to be trapped. If there are, remind me never, ever to go swimming in the bay again.


The original structure went up in 1821 or thereabouts. Completely surrounded by water, it's accessible only by boat, unless you're a bird or some wolf frolicking around in the bay needing to be trapped. I thought I read somewhere that it's about 3.5 miles from shore, in about 16 feet of water.

(Please, don't ever quote me on details, facts or figures. Just know that I'm usually half right, half wrong, but I never know which half is right and which is wrong. Welcome to the inner workings of Chesapeake Bay Woman's ADD sieve-like mind, and the very reason she could never be an accountant.)

During a particularly bad winter in 1893, ice cut the lighthouse loose from its foundation and sent it on a little trip about 20 miles south. A temporary light was erected until the new one was turned on in 1894. This time they painted it red to protect it from the elements--salt water as well as ice. Who knew this about red paint? This is the first I've heard about it having such qualities.

Although Chesapeake Bay Father frequently dragged took us fishing with him, I don't remember any close encounters with this lighthouse, mainly because I was in the cabin turning green from seasickness we'd have been departing north of where this stands.

Update! We interrupt this mostly incorrect blog post to provide some additional details.

According to my only favorite source of quick information, Wikipedia, the light was named from "the 1691 grounding of the HMS Wolfe, a British naval vessel engaged in enforcing the Navigation Act and in combating piracy. In 1821 a lightship was stationed at this spot, and after refurbishment in 1854, the original ship was destroyed by confederate raiders in 1861 during the Civil War. Two years later, a replacement ship was put on station."

We now return to CBW's hot air, already in progress.

Wolf Trap is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and was offered up for sale to non-profit organizations a couple of years ago. When nobody took the bait, the lighthouse was sold to an individual who wanted to turn it into a bed and breakfast. That lighthouse would not have been the most ideal of overnight destinations, especially if one of the guests had claustrophobia and wanted to go for a stroll outside to catch some fresh air, but certainly it would have been one unique B&B. Unfortunately, the man never received the financial backing and it was again put up for sale. I have no idea who owns it now.

Attention all two of you Blog Fest attendees: While Wolf Trap Light would certainly make for one memorable overnight experience, I cannot endorse it, what with all those wild wolves swimming around it and everything. We can, however, see it on our Tour de Mathews assuming the horseflies don't eat us alive since July is high season for those beastly insects.


mmm said...

Coffee anyone?

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Sounds like fun to me. I'm game.

Icey said...

I love the photo - and what perfect humans to be the first!

Mental P Mama said...

I cannot get the image of a frolicking wolf out of my head.

Grandma J said...

I think that Wolf Trap would make a lovely sleepover place for the blogfest...minus and Confederates or Brits. And I have nothing against either...or wolves for that matter.

I can't wait to see your treasures that you found.

big hair envy said...

Don't talk about the're scaring our guests!!!!

Annie said...

Intriguing name and story of that lighthouse..

Is it safe to walk around there in bare feet...with all that sea glass etc, not to mention frolicking wolves?

Yay, it turned cool again..hooray. I love it...sorry to all of you who endured the winter. I come from the land of the perpetual summer, so it is so nice to get some cool weather. I think I live on the wrong continent!

Anonymous said...

Aah, CBW, you beat me to it! I was going to tell you how it got its name, and you already looked it up! Drat that Wikipedia! (actually I ADORE wikipedia and google - because I meander thru life, collecting trivia as I go)

However, I originally learned about the HMS Wolfe during an interview with the very kind, gracious and wise Mr. J. Martin Diggs, Mathews Historian extraordinaire, during my senior year of high school. We spent a very pleasant afternoon in the county library, wherein I also learned how Stingray Point got its name (go ahead google it, I dare you) and other fabulous county lore. He also told me a very cute story about my (very prim and proper) aunt as a child. He was such a nice man!


Autumnforest said...

I think I recall us riding our cabin cruiser around that one. Isn't it kind of short and squat and squarish?

Daryl said...

Horse flies ... If I start whining now maybe by then I will be whined out ... OTOH a wolf in a speedo would be an awesome photo op

And trust me, you are just as reliable as Wikipedia ... you know anyone can go and update/edit an entry...

Caution Flag said...

Red paint? Won't my husband be surprised when he gets home today and finds what I've done with the house.

Did you or did you not create the Wikipedia entry?

foolery said...

So it was the Brits who crashed their boat into a wolf and started a lighthouse? I blame global warming.

What? No, I'm not drinking.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

MMM- Too late for coffee, how about sending some of those magical BEANS you grow there in the 'burg?

Meg-Just bring your Avon Skin So Soft, not that it'll help with the horseflies, but it might scare off a mosquito or two or confuse them for about a minute.

Icey-Thank you....

MPM-Frolic is one of my favorite words, along with swirl and a few others. Wolves Frolicking ought to be the name of a band. Or, my autobiography.

GJ-We even have ghosts roaming these parts dating back to before those times...pirates and all. Seriously. If we're lucky we might see one on the Tour de Mathews. (A ghost, although maybe even a pirate, you never know around here.)

BHE- You're right. You're right. But they need to understand they aren't in Kansas anymore and we do have hyper-infestations of insects. Or maybe I'm the one whose hyper when I encounter these insects. Or something.

Annie - Yes, surprisingly it is safe to walk on the beach, BUT sometimes not in the water not so much because of the glass but oyster shells can slice and dice you as bad as glass. This sea glass we're talking about is usually very smooth - almost like a pebble that's been in a river bed forever. (Are you sure you can't come back in July for Blog Fest?)

AMN - Many moons ago in this very blog I said that Stingray Point got its name from a wrestling match between one Capt. John Smith and a stingray, and the score was stingray - 1, Capt. John - 0. Hopefully that matches your story, but if it doesn't, write 'er up and send 'er on over for publishing. (Along with the Aaron's Beach one. OR better yet, the story of AMN's Mumma tearing up the door mat with the zero turn lawn mower. Yes, we must have that one documented for posterity. It will go well with the "Cud Cadet Almost Kills CB Mother" saga.)

Autumn-Exactly, that's it, doesn't look like your typical lighthouse. There are pictures if you google or wikipedia it.

Daryl- Wolves frolicking in speedos, I do believe we're onto something here, although I'm not sure what. Whatever it is, you won't find it in Wikipedia but you might find it on Cinemax.

Caution - I never knew that about the red paint. No, I only copied the info from Wikipedia about the ship and how the light got its name. There was another site having to do with local lighthouses that had more info, and actually if you google it, there are a number of sites that come up describing it fairly accurately.

Foolery- An excellent summary, spot on--just dont' forget to add that the wolf was frolicking.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I do love some soft, supple skin, almost as much as the skeeters do.

(Note to self - pack extra-large box of punk sticks.)

Carl Warren said...

I lived on Wolf Trap Lighthouse from April 1962 untill July 1964.
I spent many a night by my self and was not bothered by the wolves. I always belived that the mermaids kept them away.

The flies however were as big as buzzards and bit like a shark.

I look foward to some day returning to Mathews County for a vist.

Carl Warren