Madisonville Lighthouse at sunset

Beautiful photography of 19th century lighthouse at mouth of Tchefuncte River

Madisonville lighthouse Tchefuncte River

The sky is ablaze behind the Madisonville lighthouse, which marks the mouth of the Tchefuncte River channel.

I’ve long been wanting to shoot the old lighthouse standing on the shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain to mark the mouth of the Tchefuncte River, but I wanted to ensure the sun was setting behind the old 19th century structure.

One of the coolest photography apps ever — The Photographer’s Ephimeris — showed me that October would be the perfect time. So as soon as I finished my work for the day on Oct. 8, I made the short run to Madisonville, launched my boat and hopped into the shallows just east of the lighthouse by about 6 p.m.

There was a cloud bank on the western horizon that extended almost to my location, but breaks in the clouds promised to add some dramatic color. Twenty minutes later I was not disappointed, as the dying rays of the sun painted the clouds yellow and orange.

I shot images until the sun fell so far behind the clouds that the colors were blotted out. Not exactly the sunset I was hoping for, but the images still came out beautifully.

The Tchefuncte River lighthouse was built in 1836 and functioned to light the way to the channel leading into the river. It was heavily damaged during the Civil War, but was rebuilt in 1867-68 on the same foundation and using many of the same bricks as the original structure.

The lighthouse was manned well into the 20th century, with the light station’s keepers and their families weathering many hurricanes in the structure’s nearby keeper’s cottage. In 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard automated the light house.

Ownership was transferred to the City of Madisonville in 1999, and it remains lighted to guide Lake Pontchartrain’s boaters.

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About Andy Crawford

Andy Crawford has been a photographer and writer for more than 20 years, with thousands of images and articles published in magazines and newspapers around the country. He now focuses on Louisiana photography, landscapes, HDR photography, urban prints and other fine art photography. He also is a portrait photographer.