Discovery made during restoration of historic Sabine Pass Lighthouse stairwell

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 9:40 PM CST
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Cameron Parish, LA (KPLC) - Volunteers restoring the Sabine Pass Lighthouse in Cameron Parish have made an interesting discovery.

Many might not know of the antique relic that still stands tall in Cameron. The Sabine Pass Lighthouse has survived for well over a century and a half, weathering countless storms and even a few historic battles.

“Once Hurricane Ike had about 10 feet of water in the lighthouse, sloshing back and forth, the whole stairwell came down,” Cameron Preservation Alliance President Andrew Tingler said in a previous interview with 7News. “Rita also put a lot of bricks off around the sides. But, after that, it’s just been a slow deterioration through the elements- wind, rain and everything, slowly eating away at the structure.”

A group of volunteers with Cameron Preservation Alliance is tasked with the arduous undertaking of preserving it, including Tingler. An effort to repair the lighthouse’s stairwell began a few years ago, as the group had to raise the funding for the project, which costs well over $100,000 for 90 steps.

“We finally settled on a company to cast the lighthouse steps,” Tingler said. “We are going with the original material, which is cast iron. A company out of Alexander City Alabama is going to cast the steps following a mold made from the original steps.”

But recently, a discovery was made - original, intact steps were found.

Tingler explained that after the Hurricane of 1886, the bottom of the lighthouse was filled three feet up with sand and bricks to avoid storm surge. Hurricane Ike took down the original stairwell, causing the pole to go through the false bottom.

“Once we figured that out, we had to go back and remove this stuff and inspect the original pole to see if it can support the new stairwell going in, and that’s when we realized some of the older steps were there and completely intact,” Tingler said.

He was able to take one of these steps and ship it off so that it can be replicated. The group was able to obtain permits for a floating bridge, making the lighthouse somewhat accessible for construction.

“We’re going to go in and finish cleaning out the bottom,” Tingler said. “We started before Hurricane Laura, and we just never finished it off. So, once we get that done, and get the stub of the old pole inspected to see if it can support all of the weight, and then start putting the stairwell back in.”

The steps should be prepared and ready for installation in June.

The Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation is hosting a ramble in Abbeville March 11. For more information, click here.