MADISONVILLE, La. (WVUE) - After years of effort, one of the Northshore’s most important landmarks is getting a cash infusion.
The Gulf of Mexico Security Act is sending $1.6 million to shore up the Tchefuncte River Lighthouse and the eroded land around it.
There aren’t many light houses left on Lake Pontchartrain and this one was in danger.
“It is the last active lighthouse on the lake built before the Civil War so it’s a piece of history,” said Jim MacPherson, with the Lake Pontchartrain Maritime Museum.
Over the years coastal erosion has taken a toll.
Land that used to surround the Tchefuncte River Lighthouse has washed away. The lighthouse keeper’s house was moved to preserve it, and the lighthouse itself was in danger.
But now parish officials have allocated $1.6 million in GoMesa coastal protection money to shore up the land around the old lighthouse.
“This has been an incredible piece of news for us,” said MacPherson.
Lighthouse supporters have fought for a grant like this for decades but that fight recently became even more fervent after the loss of another nearby lighthouse.
“We actually started on this before the Pass Manchac Lighthouse fell and we were starting to see the same types of things happening to this lighthouse.”
The new grant should help this lighthouse become a significant tourist destination for the town of Madisonville.
“I think it’s so exciting that only for our town and our residents but also for St. Tammany Parish,” said Madisonville Mayor Jean Pelloat.
The new project calls for rebuilding land around the lighthouse and protecting it.
“What it will do is build sheet piling around the lighthouse protect the shoreline and allow us to build out the pier so we can bring in tourism,” said MacPherson.
There could also be a phase two which could see coastal restoration money go toward shoring up the eastern shore line of the Tchefuncte River as well. Town officials say an isolated cypress tree off the shoreline used to sit on a peninsula that’s been washed away.
“We’re just incredibly happy that the parish wanted to do something with us on this,” said MacPherson.
Lighthouse supporters are optimistic that land restoration around the Tchefuncte Lighthouse could get underway shortly after the first of the year.
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