Digest>Archives> December 1997

Keepers Korner

By Timothy Harrison


News & Notes from Everywhere

The next time you're on the web, check out the site for Sentinel Publications and distributors of lighthouse books by Elinor DeWire. The address is -http://members.aol.com/elly0803/sentinels.htm

Speaking of Elinor, she was recently the guest speaker at the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association meeting held at the Officers Club on the Naval Base in Newport, RI.

A lot of lighthouses are popping up on TV lately. Commercial spots have featured such stars as basketball great Scotty Pippin dribbling by Point Montara Light, and the venerable James Earl Jones, better known as the voice of Darth Vader, strolling past the lofty tower at Pigeon Point. The zany and inimitable Bill Nye, the Science Guy, one of the brightest lights in children's entertainment, has a great episode about light that demystifies much of the complex physics of illumination. And, his fast-paced "Architecture" segment featured Race Rock Lighthouse on Long Island Sound. Now, if we could just get him to do an entire show on the science of pharology!

Canada's Coastals Communities Network held a 100th birthday party for British Columbia's Cape Mudge Lighthouse. But, the lighthouse wasn't 100 years old. This historic old beacon has been guiding sailors through the Discovery Passage for 99 years. The birthday party was held early because officials don't know if the lighthouse will reach its 100th birthday. The Canadian Coast Guard plans to close the station and automate it before its 100th birthday is even reached. The Cape Mudge Lighthouse is one of 12 in British Columbia to be automated this year. What a shame. You'd think that the Canadian Coast Guard could keep these stations open. The bottom line is that, through a combination of government funds, donations, fund raisers, etc., all lighthouses could be kept open.

SOJOURNS magazine, a travel magazine for teachers credit unions, featured Maine's Pemaquid Point Lighthouse with a beautiful two page color photo of the station.

The November issue of Michigan Living Magazine did a story about haunted Michigan. A sidebar mentioned Therese Lanigan-Schmidt's haunted lighthouses book, Ghostly Beacons that is soon to be published.

The November issue of Coastal Living magazine features a Christmas lighted lighthouse.

California's Cape Mendocino Lighthouse has been given to a non profit group which will relocate and restore the endangered beacon. The lighthouse will be moved to Shelter Cover, Ca., where it will be put on display for all to enjoy. Donations are being accepted for the project with a certificate of recognition to be given for donations . . . $1.00 to $100, a certificate; $101 to $499, a blue seal; $500 to $999, a silver seal; and $1000 or more a gold seal. Donations can be sent to Cape Mendocino Lighthouse Preservation Society, P.O. Box 454, Shelter Cover, CA 95589.

Proving how dangerous lighthouse locations can be, another person has died at Maine's Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. A woman from Hingham, MA, lost her footing on the terrain near the rocks and fell approximately 30 feet to the rocks below. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Again, please be careful when touring lighthouses, especially along the rocky Maine coast. And keep your children away from the edges of the cliffs where there are no fences. Warning signs at many lighthouses are ignored by so many people.

Ethel M. Landry, 95, of Brunswick, Maine, has died. As a child she enjoyed helping her father, Preston L. Marr tend the lighthouses at Maine's Cuckholds Light and Portland Breakwater Lighthouse.

The Nantucket Lightship was recently used in a training exercise by police on how to raid a ship that might be trafficking in drugs and be armed with explosive booby traps.

A newspaper columist for the Courier Gazette newspaper in Rockland, Maine wrote a recent editorial against the Rockland Breakwater lighthouse. David Grima, in his column, was against using the lighthouse as a museum, community center or anything else. He wrote, " It would make a better penal colony. It would probably be better to turn it into the Alcatraz of Penobscot Bay." Apparently somebody blew out Mr. Grima's pilot light. We have written him with the real facts. One of the major problems in this country is reporters who write or tell a story without all the facts.

The selectmen of the city of South Portland Maine have voted not to take ownership of the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse under the Maine Lights program. They got scared off by handicapped-rights activist Kathryn McInnis who said if the breakwater to the lighthouse and the lighthouse were not made handicapped accessible, she was going to file a lawsuit against the town. The other alternative she said was to close the breakwater to all persons and not allow anyone out there. However, federal law cleary states that the breakwater and the lighthouse are not affected by the disability law. Too bad the town let one person scare them off!

Next year's Harley Davidson catalog will celebrate the company's 95th anniversary. In the catalog they will feature Wisconsin's Wind Point Lighthouse as an interesting destination for Harley riders.

One of the sale brochures for the 1998 Chevy Express and Chevy Van features Michigan's Seul Choix Point Lighthouse. It seems everybody wants to use a lighthouse to help sell their products.

The new isue of NACUBO Business Officer, a magazine for college and university business officers, featured what appears to be Michigan's New Presque Isle Light, in the fog, on the cover.

The new Coast Guard buoy tender Abbie Burgess has finally arrived in its home port of Rockland, Maine. The new 175 foot vessel will provide service to hundreds of aids to navigation along the New England coast as well as perform search and rescue operations. The vessel is name after Abbie Burgess, Maine's famous lighthouse heroine, who served at Matinicus Rock and Whitehead Lights.

Alethea Pittsley-Borden, 86, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, had died. She was the wife of the late Roy S. Pittsley, who died in 1973, and who was the lighthouse keeper at Massachusetts Eastern Point and Annisquam Lighthouses. Yet another chapter of lighthouse history comes to a close.

Henry Josten of the Pictorial Gazette West in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, is proposing that the Old Saybrook Lighthouse, which also appears on the Connecticut license plate, be on the reverse side of a U.S Quarter. He is, of course, referring to the new federal law which will give all 50 states the right to pick what design they want on the back of a twenty-five cent piece honoring their state. The new law prohibits any head and shoulders portrait or bust of any person living or dead and no state will be allowed to select any frivolous or inappropriate design. Let's hope lots of states come up with a lighthouse. But that can only be done if we all write to our state representatives and senators. I can absolutely assure you that letters do make a difference.

Massachusetts has come up with a great way to help save lighthouses. They have inmates from the Bristol County House of Correction putting their time and talents to refurbishing the Butler Flats Lighthouse. The inmates work Monday through Friday, replacing floors, sanding the walls, stairwells, ceilings, and rewiring the electrical system. The work has now stopped because of the winter weather, but will finish up in the spring.

Ken Black, founder of the Shore Village Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, Maine, recently gave another one of his great presentations, "Lighthouses are like people, they come in all different sizes, shapes and colors." Ken's presentation was given at the Spring Point Museum in South Portland, Maine.

Contrary to popular belief not all lighthouses are on the National Register of Historic Places. Michigan's 1868, Sand Point Lighthouse has now been nominated to the Register. The lighthouse, which had been altered by the Coast Guard by removing the tower, was restored by the historical society, between 1985 and 1989.

Let's not forget Crisp Point Lighthouse in Michigan. We consider it the most endangered lighthouse in America. They need all the help they can get. Sending them, say, $25.00 as a Cristmas present would be appreciated. Send to Crisp Point Lighthouse Society, P.O. Box 229, Paradise, MI 49768.

Michigan's Big Sable Lighthouse celebrated the "lighting of the light" in celebration of its 130 years as an active aid to navigation. The original lens of the station is now on display at the White Pine Village in Ludington, MI. Big Sable is a large lighthouse station which has been undergoing restoration for a number of years and has had its battles with erosion. The group working on this station is an active, hard working group and we would encourage our readers to join them. Membership is only $10.00, to Big Sable Lighthouse Keepers, Box 673, Ludington, MI 49431.

Speaking of groups to join, another one is the New England Lighthouse Foundation. Membership is only $10.00 per year, and can be sent to NELF, P.O. Box 1690, Wells, Maine 04090.

Enclosed with this month's issue to mail subscribers is an application for the new MBNA lighthouse credit card. We would encourage our readers to apply for and use this credit card as it will benefit many of America's endangered lighthouses. Money will be donated each and every time you make a purchase with the card. Funds raised will go into a general preservation fund for which all lighthouses will be able to apply. If you did not get an application, or if this is a newsstand copy, you can call us at 207-646-0515 and request a MBNA lighthouse credit card application. We will send one right out to you.

Yankee Magazine has entered into a partnership agreement with the New England Lighthouse Foundation to save New England's lighthouses. For every new or gift subscription filled out on a special form, Yankee Magazine will donate $10.00 to the New England Lighthouse Foundation. For a special subscription form call us at 207-646-0515 or write to us at Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 1690, Wells, Maine 04090.

This story appeared in the December 1997 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.

All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.

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