If you have ever stopped by the HCWF Headquarters while on a visit, you may have noticed the beautiful old lamp on display in the front window. This lamp has a unique connection to the Hoffler Creek property, dating back to a time when the Ballard family was still plowing the soil of the area that now makes up Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve.
This lantern was found in the early 1920’s by John W. Ballard, Jr., when he was a boy. It washed ashore here, at Floral Point Farm, and has been treasured by the family ever since. Little was known about the lantern but the family had it cleaned and refurbished in the 1980’s. The lantern is currently on loan to Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve by John W. Ballard, III.
Recently, historian and author, Larry Saint has provided us with previously unknown information about this beautiful piece of history. It is a post lantern that was in service somewhere in this region of the Chesapeake Bay’s tributaries in the early 1900’s. During the severe winter of 1919-1920, 21 post lanterns were lost in our region of the Chesapeake Bay due to tidal ice flows moving up and down the bay region. One of these ice flows brought this lantern to the site of Floral Point Farm. Records show requests to the Department of Commerce for the year ending June 30, 1920 to appropriate funds to replace these lost lanterns.
These lanterns, also called 8-day post lanterns, were used to aid in navigation along our tidal waters. They have a reservoir that holds enough oil to burn for 8 days, day and night, at which point they would be refilled and relit. To see this post lantern and learn more information about this piece of Chesapeake Bay history, stop in the Hoffler Creek Wildlife Foundation Headquarters on your next trip to the preserve.