Digest>Archives> April 2009

Is There A Story In Vintage Post Card?

By Timothy Harrison


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Shown in the vintage post card of Connecticut’s Peck Ledge Lighthouse are six men standing on the lower covered deck of the 1901 lighthouse that was built to mark the east end of the Norwalk Islands in Long Island Sound.

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Peck Ledge Lighthouse as it appears today. ...
Photo by: B. Denoyer

Most likely, two of the men shown on the vintage post card were the keepers of the lighthouse. Perhaps one of them was keeper Conrad Hawk whose carelessness caused a fire that nearly destroyed the lighthouse in 1913; albeit he also put out the fire and saved the structure. Or perhaps one of the men is keeper Charles Kenny, who at great risk to his own life, rescued four crewmen from the steamer J.C. Austin when it sank in 1921.

The lighthouse had a relatively short life as a staffed station and dedicated people like George W. Bardwell, August Lorenz, George Clark and William Hardwick would never again live at the spark plug style lighthouse. It was automated in 1933 and its keepers were removed. But where are the photographs of the lighthouse keepers who served at this lighthouse and what happened to the memories of their lives? Where are the photographs of the lighthouse when it was under construction in 1901 or the removal, sometime after 1933, of its canopy?

Old post cards often have a story to tell and in many cases they include the only known images of some of the people who lived at and cared for our historic beacons.

Yes, there is some information available on the Internet and in the pages of a few books, but none of them tell the story through photographs of the heart of this lighthouse or for that manner, many other lighthouses. Hopefully, photographs will soon resurface and we’ll be able to share them with you in a future story about the people who lived here and tended a good light.

This story appeared in the April 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.

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