Digest>Archives> March 2009

Keepers' Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Large Collection Bequeathed

What has been described as an amazing and invaluable collection of photographs, books, research documents, cuttings and other material has been donated to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in Fraserburg, Scotland. The items came from the estate of John "Ian" Peattie who worked as an electrician for the Northern Lighthouse Board for 38 years. (The Northern Lighthouse Board is in charge of all lighthouses in Scotland and the Isle of Man.) Even after his retirement, Ian continued to collect and research lighthouse history. Many, if not most, lighthouse, aficionados rate the Scottish Lighthouse Museum as the most impressive lighthouse museum in the world.

Lighthouse Builder Grave Found

Lighthouse history is always being rediscovered as was recently evident by the recent discovery of the neglected broken headstone of British General Alexander Fraser. A man who volunteered to help tend the old cemetery at St. Margaret's Church in Downham, England found the tombstone. Further researched revealed that General Fraser was the first "Imperial Lighthouse Engineer," who was responsible for building several lighthouses in India, which was then part of the British Empire. One of the most famous lighthouses he built was the Alguada Reef Lighthouse at the mouth of the Irawaddy River in Burma (now known as Myanmar) and was first lighted on April 23, 1865. Queen Victoria was so impressed by the lighthouse that she sent a personal note to the general and an image of it appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1865. Interestingly the lighthouse was machine gunned by U.S. warplanes during World War II. The regiment that General Fraser once belonged to has now restored his tombstone.

Rock Star's Lighthouse For Sale

England's 1840 Hunstanton Lighthouse, now owned by former 1960s rock star Bip Weatherall is for sale at a reduced price. Originally listed at over a $1million the asking price has been dropped to $722,000. Weatherall and his wife have spent considerable money fixing up the lighthouse that was discontinued in 1922. The first lighthouse built on the site, high on a cliff, was back in 1665.

Crooked River To Be Rebuilt

The Carrabelle Lighthouse Association has announced that the next phase of the rehabilitation of Florida's historic Crooked River Lighthouse Station will be to build a replica of the keeper's house that once stood at the site.

Rock Island Lighthouse Web Site

In May of 2000, Mark A Wentling, a descendant of an early lighthouse keeper at New York's Rock Island Lighthouse, formed the Rock Island Lighthouse Historical & Memorial Association. In doing so he has created a web site loaded with history of the lighthouse. You can visit the site at http://rockislandlighthouse.org/. It's well worth your time.

Five Islands To Move

As we reported on the possibility in our June 2008 issue, the moving of the Five Islands Lighthouse in Nova Scotia has been approved. The 94-year old wooden beacon will be moved about four and a third miles to its new location at a cost of $15,000 which will be shared by the province and the county.

When Will Respect Arrive

If you've been reading the newspapers lately you'll know that some of America's oldest and famous western heroes such as the Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy will soon be returning to the big screen as well as appearing on postage stamps. But, what I find amazing is that none of the Hollywood clan has ever thought about making a movie or TV series that revolves around a lighthouse and its keeper. Think of all the amazing story themes they could come up; storms, heroic rescues, mystery, romance, ghosts, intrigue, saboteurs, rum runners, pirates, buried treasure, shipwrecks, family life, romance stories and so many more. It's time the lighthouses got some respect. Let's write letters to the moviemakers and TV writers and ask them to create some great stories, fictional or otherwise that could revolve around a lighthouse and a lighthouse keeper's family. After all, everyone loves lighthouses. America would be mesmerized.

National Lighthouse Museum Declared A Farce

It seems that slowly, but surely, editorial comments are finally showing up in various places about the National Lighthouse Museum that should have opened long ago at the site of the old Lighthouse Depot on Staten Island, NY. I only wish we had a big enough staff to do some investigative journalism and follow the disappearing money trail and broken promises. One of the recent editorial comments in the Staten Island Advance Newspaper written by Mariel Avedon said, "What are we waiting for, the second coming of the lonely lighthouse-loving dinosaur from the great Ray Bradbury's "The Fog-Horn"? The site already has plaques on it, telling all about the museum you can't even enter and the plaques themselves are nearly over grown with weeds. It's a total farce. Perhaps we could give free tours of the current location, presenting it as an ancient lighthouse temple lost in the mists of time."

New Coast Guard Museum Planned

We wrote about this sometime back, but now the folks who started the yet to be built National Coast Guard Museum have hired Jerry Ostermiller as its new president. Ostermiller was previously with the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon. In spite of these economic times, the group plans to raise $65 million to build the museum in New London, CT and then donate it to the United States Coast Guard. Artifacts will come from the Coast Guard Museum now housed in small quarters at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT and other locations where Coast Guard artifacts are now in storage or on loan at other locations around the country. It's too bad this group couldn't have joined forces with the now defunct National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island, NY and put the National Coast Guard Museum in some of the historic buildings there. Thus they would have helped save history, rather than build an entirely new building. After all, the Coast Guard has as much history at Staten Island and more taxpayer dollars originally invested there, which have now all been left by the wayside.

Lighthouse Preservationist Passes

Walter Fanning, the third generation of his family to work at San Francisco Bay lighthouses in California has passed away at the age of 99. Fanning was born in the keeper's quarters at the Yerba Buena Lighthouse where his grandfather was the keeper. Later his grandfather was transferred to East Brother Lighthouse and Fanning spent much of his childhood years at the lighthouse. Fanning spent a good portion of his retirement working on the restoration of the lighthouse and later became its modern day keeper/caretaker. He also was instrumental, with a hands-on approach in the restoration of the Relief Lightship that is now anchored in Oakland Harbor. Donations in his memory can be sent to the Walter Fanning Memorial Fund, East Brother Light Station Restoration, 117 Park Place, Point Richmond, CA 94801. (Photo courtesy East Brother Light Station.)

Last Georgian Bay Keeper Dies

Jack Vaughan, who was the last lighthouse keeper on Canada's Georgian Bay, in Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada, has died at the age of 80. Although he and his wife raised eight children together, Vaughan was often away from home for long periods of time. In the summer months most of the family was together on

Cove Island Lighthouse. This past June, Vaughan and his wife were guests of honor on a cruise that celebrated the 150th birthday of Cove Island Lighthouse.

New Zealand Beacon Turns 150

New Zealand's Pencarrow Lighthouse turned 160 years old this past New Years Day. First lit on January 1, 1859, it is the first permanent lighthouse to have been built in New Zealand and was home to the nation's first and only female lighthouse keeper.

Another Lighthouse License Plate

Senate Bill 212, which was amended in House Bill 273, for a second Ohio lighthouse license plate has passed the Ohio State Senate. If there are no other hitches the bill will go to Ohio's Gov. Ted Strickland for his signature. The new plate will feature the Fairport Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse. Ohio was one of the first states in the nation to have a lighthouse license plate when they issued one a number of years ago featuring that state's Marblehead Lighthouse.

Orvis Lighthouse

One of the many catalogs I received during the last holiday season was the Orvis Men's Clothing Catalog. Interestingly, for no apparent reason, on page 32, they featured a nice color image of the Soderarm Lighthouse in the Stockholm Archipelago, in Sweden. Maybe they thought the image would help sell their Weatherbreaker Jacket, or maybe they just liked the Christmas tree that was decorated near the lighthouse. Whatever the case, it was great public relations for lighthouses.

Lighthouse Coins

The North Bend Chief Petty Officers Association has three different lighthouse coins for sale at $20.00 each. One features Umpqua River Lighthouse, Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Cape Arago Lighthouse. The purchase of the coins helps them in their charitable efforts. They can be ordered from CPOA Coin Sales, 2000 Connecticut Ave., North Bend, Oregon 97459-2300 or on-line at www.nbcpoa.org/cpoa4.html.

Lighthouse Destroyed

Although the number one reason lighthouses are lost is because of neglect, in spite of how well they are built or constructed, lighthouses are not immune to destructive storms and rogue waves as is evident by the recent loss of the Alfred Pier Light that stood on the outer pier of the Port of St. Mary on the south coast of the Isle of Man. This past January, the "pepper pot" style lighthouse simply disappeared after the pier it was on, was battered by a number of high-pounding waves. The only remains found, of the over 100-year old light tower was the battered and twisted remains of the lantern room.

On The Tube

There's a new TV advertisement about the merger of Wachovia and Wells Fargo Bank featuring national landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge. But it also includes Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in NC and Popham Beach Life Saving Station in Maine which is now a wonderful B& B. The commercial was being shown on all major networks and some cable stations.

This story appeared in the March 2009 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.

to Lighthouse Digest

USLHS Marker Fund

Lighthouse History
Research Institute

Shop Online

Subscribe   Contact Us   About Us   Copyright Foghorn Publishing, 1994- 2024   Lighthouse Facts     Lighthouse History