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The mystery lighthouse on page 32 of the November ...

Mystery Solved . . .

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Another mystery light

The mystery lighthouse on page 32 of the November Lighthouse Digest is the Ashtabula, Ohio West Pierhead Light (of 1876) being removed from service in 1906.

Here is the history:

The first Ashtabula Light, a hexagonal wooden structure, was established in 1836 on the end of the east pierhead.

In 1876 a new lighthouse (the one pictured) was built on the west pierhead because of the construction of new dock facilities on the east side of the river, which necessitated the removal of the first light. As shown in the photo, this second light consisted of a tall, slender, square, wooden pyramidal tower. A new 4th order lens displaying a fixed red light was installed in 1896 along with a first class siren fog signal. This light served as a front range light after 1893 when a rear range light on a metal tower was established that year. The 1876 light served the harbor until the present (third) lighthouse was built in 1905 (first lit on November 1, 1905) when the Ashtabula River was widened and additional dock construction was completed. When built, the third light was located on the new breakwall approximately 2,500 feet north of the river entrance and the 1876 light. This third light was subsequently moved to its present position and enlarged in 1916 after the breakwall it rests upon was extended for the last time. Before the completion of the third lighthouse, the river widening project left the 1876 structure 60 feet out into the river away from the new west pier, giving it the appearance of a “floating lighthouse”. Obviously, it had to be removed from the river channel, and it was early in 1906.

Additional proof: Look at the lower right hand corner of your photo with a magnifying glass and you will see the word “John”. The name of the barge used to move the light off of its wooden crib and onto the pier for dismantling was the “John Drackett” of Cleveland, Ohio.

Best Regards,

Wayne Sapulski

Maritime Photographic Company

Another Mystery Light

My letter is in response to a picture that appeared in your October 2003 issue concerning a picture of a tower in the Collins Beach, Delaware area.

I grew up in the Thorofare Neck/Taylors Bridge Delaware area and would like to share some information passed down through my family and friends. The property that Mr. Mike Walker was referring to is now part of Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area and is currently owned by the State of Delaware. Years ago when the property was privately owned it was called Vogel’s Nursery. The tower was the support for a large water reservoir (tank mounted on top of the tower). Also attached to a nearby structure was a windmill used to generate the water.

The fellow that lived on this property was the owner/operator of a plumbing and fixture company. He really was a very creative guy and was ahead of his time for the area. In the pictures you can see his home behind the towers and the trees. He had flush toilets and running water (modern plumbing fixtures) in his home, while everyone else in the countryside still used hand pumps for well water and outhouses for bathrooms. I believe the water tower also furnished water for the nursery when needed. The tower still appears to be a fairly sound structure today even though the outside cedar shaker shingles are decaying. I do not know the date the tower was built.

Even though the tower has nothing to do with lighthouses, it was truly a unique structure and symbolizes a really neat piece of history for the local area. I am truly a dedicated lighthouse fan and I love your Lighthouse Digest magazine. I read it faithfully every month cover to cover. Please keep up the good work; all involved do a great job.

Bettyann Seagraves

Carneys Point, NJ

Searching for Memories of Father

My name is Sharon Willis Robinson and I am searching for anyone that may have known my father, Howard Elwers (Ellsworth) Willis, date of birth 2/18/1905. I realize that most will have passed, but my hope is to find someone that can tell me a little about my father. He died when I was 6 and Mom never really talked about him. I just recently found out about his military service and thought I might get lucky.

He was in the Department of Commerce—Lighthouse Service from November 20, 1926 to January 9, 1927 aboard the U.S. Lighthouse Tender Tulip in St. George, Staten Island, New York area. WAGL-249 as a Quartermaster.

He was in the Department of Commerce - Bureau of Navigation Shipping Service from September 16, 1926 to October 27, 1926 aboard the Finland in the PanamaPacific.

He was in the Coast Guard from January 29, 1927 to February 3, 1930. He enlisted/served at: Receiving Unit, New London, Connecticut; Base 4, DEPOT, Camden, New Jersey, Woodbury, Div. 6, OSPF, USS Naugatuck, Section Base 20, USCG Cutter Tallapoosa discharged in Curtis Bay, MD.

He was in the Navy from August 22, 1922 - August 25, 1926. He was aboard: USS New York, USS Arizona, USS Relief; USS Neches in 1925, discharged San Francisco, California.

He was in the Army from August 6, 1920 - August 5, 1921 Service Battery, 51st Artillery (C.A.C.) at Camp Jackson, South Carolina.

Thanks for any and all help,

Sharon Willis Robinson



This story appeared in the March 2004 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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