Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2012

Keeper’s Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comment from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


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GLLKA President Honored

Dick Moehl, President of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, was awarded the inaugural BEACON award for exceptional leadership in the Michigan lighthouse stewardship community at the May 24th Michigan Lighthouse Alliance conference that was held in Traverse City. The award was an exact working replica of a 4th order Fresnel lens in one quarter scale that was crafted by Dan Spinella of Artworks Florida who actually makes full size replicas of Fresnel lenses. Our congratulations to Dick Moehl on being so honored. Personally, I can’t think of anyone who has worked as hard as he has for the preservation of Great Lakes Lighthouses. Moehl’s efforts have also helped many other lighthouses around the nation and other countries. Congratulations Dick Moehl!!!! (Photo by Jeri Baron Feltner)

New Life Saving Station Booklet

The new 40-page illustrated, booklet, "For Those in Peril," which is a history of the Ocean City, New Jersey Life Saving Station and of the twelve year struggle to save it, is now available for $11.45 ($9.95 plus $1.50 for shipping) from Kimball Baker, P.O. Box 24, Somers Point, NJ 08244. Proceeds from the booklet go toward the restoration effort of the station.

Windmills at Bell Rock

Scotland’s 200-year-old Bell Rock Lighthouse, built by famous engineer Robert Stevenson, will soon have some neighbors. Historians are worried that the wind farms to be built near the iconic lighthouse will detract from its beauty as well as damage its historical significance. At a blade tip height of around 200 feet, some of the turbines will dwarf the 110-foot tall lighthouse.

Turnberry to Be Sold

Lighthouse history is changing all over the world, right in front of our eyes. The downturn in the economy is worldwide. To reduce costs, the Northern Lighthouse Board is selling off Scotland’s famous and well-known Turnberry Lighthouse, which is located by the world famous Ailsa Golf Course. It is likely the lighthouse will be sold off sometime around 2015 or before.

Bramble Landmark

In spite of the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bramble, now owned by Michigan’s Port Huron Museum, is up for sale, it is being nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. The vessel, once open to the public, has been closed since last year while it awaits a new owner. The Bramble is one of the Coast Guard’s most historic decommissioned vessels. The landmark status will not change the fact that the museum is continuing to try to find a new owner for the vessel, which they can no longer afford to maintain.

Saving New Point Comfort

A bid has been approved to install the revetment to shore up Virginia’s endangered New Point Comfort Lighthouse. Hopefully, the lighthouse can then come off the Doomsday List of Endangered Lighthouses.

Keeping the Stripes

The campaign mounted by locals to keep the red and white bands on the Beachy Head Lighthouse in East Sussex, in southeast England, is nearly complete. Locals have had to raise the money because the government said there was no money available to paint the lighthouse.

Memorial Refurbished

The Lightship Sailors Memorial in New Bedford, Massachusetts has been refurbished by volunteers, all of whom are lightship veterans. Since its dedication in 1999, the Lightship Sailors Memorial has been the only memorial in the nation to the men who lost their lives while serving on lightships. The centerpiece of the memorial is the bell that was recovered from the sunken Vineyard Sound Lightship.

Fort Gratiot Open

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Michigan’s oldest standing beacon, opened to the public at the end of May after its massive refurbishment. If you are visiting Michigan this year, a visit to the lighthouse is highly recommended.

Lighthouse Exhibit at Nantucket Museum

A new exhibit, "Guiding Lights: Nantucket’s Lighthouses, Keepers & Their Families," has opened at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum. The exhibit will be on display at the museum until October 8. The museum is located at 158 Polpis Road about four miles from Nantucket Town on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. There is a small admission charge. FMI call 508-228-1885.

150 Years at Twin Lights of Navesink

The Twin Lights at Navesink in Highlands, New Jersey is celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year. On August 5 the lighthouse will host "On Hallowed Ground: 150 Years at the Twin Lights," that will celebrate the remarkable events that have happened at the lighthouse. On that day, from 11 am to 4pm, visitors will get an unprecedented look inside America’s first lifesaving station, participate in a flag-raising ceremony to commemorate the famous 1893 Pledge of Allegiance ceremony, and learn about the groundbreaking work in wireless communications, military radar, and optics that took place at the twin towers. The Twin Lights Historic Site is located on Lighthouse Road in Highlands, New Jersey.

Preservationist Lost

Dedicated lighthouse volunteer Jim Kilgor, whose passion was the preservation of the Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse at the entrance to Collingwood Harbor in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada, has passed away at the age of 66. The Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse is one of Canada’s six Imperial Towers. The endangered lighthouse was stabilized in 2006 but still needs funding. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.

Cape St. George Correction

In the article "Top Twenty Stories for the Past Twenty Years" in the previous edition, we listed one of those stories as being the rebuilding of Cape St. George Lighthouse in Florida. The lighthouse was not actually toppled by Hurricane Dennis that hit Florida in July, 2005; it actually toppled several months after the hurricane, when it came down on October 21 as a result of erosion caused by hurricanes and storms. The rebuilding of the Cape St. George Lighthouse at its new location is definitely worthy as one of the top twenty stories of the past twenty years. The accomplishment is nothing short of amazing.

Millions for Sumburgh Makeover

A nearly$8.5 million makeover is scheduled for Sumburgh Head Lighthouses which is located on the southern tip of the main Shetland Island in the United Kingdom. Built by famous lighthouse builder Robert Stevenson in 1821 the lighthouse serves as the headquarters of the Sumburgh Head Nature Preserve and is known for its nesting seabirds, including puffins. Overnight stays, which have been offered at the lighthouse in the past, will be discontinued during the renovations and restoration, which are expected to be completed by early 2014.

Cape Agulhas Upgrade

The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, located at the southernmost tip of the African continent, will undergo a $500,000 restoration. Built in 1849, the lighthouse was declared a National Monument by South Africa in 1973. In 1999 the lighthouse hosted its 150th anniversary as reported in the May, 1999 edition of Lighthouse Digest.

Canadian Lights in Trouble

Many of the nearly 1,000 lighthouses in Canada that were recently declared as excess property are having trouble finding owners to take them over. Many small communities have having trouble justifying the cost of maintaining a lighthouse and others are having trouble going through the process to take ownership. While it is obvious that many lighthouses will be saved, it is also question of how many secondary or minor lighthouses might eventually be lost. Initial media reports sensationalized the fact that the world famous Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse has been put it jeopardy of being replaced or demolished. That type of reporting obviously helps draw attention to lighthouses, but neglects the less famous lighthouses that are all historically significant in their own right. Parks Canada has estimated that applications have been received to have approximately 350 lighthouses transferred, which leaves over 600 lighthouses that could be abandoned or even demolished.

South Bass Island to Open

Ohio’s South Bass Island Lighthouse, which is not normally open for tours, except during an annual Open House in August, will be a open for tours every Monday and Tuesday from 11 am to 5 pm June 18 through August 14. The cost of $3 per person and $1 for children ages 6-12 will allow you the rare opportunity to climb the tower for the spectacular view of Put-in-Bay. In 1967, the 1897 lighthouse was leased to Ohio State University, and permanent ownership was transferred in 1997. The grounds of the lighthouse are also available for private parties and special events. For more information on the tours, you can call the Stone Laboratory in Put-in-Bay, Ohio at 419-285-1800. As a point of interest, the 4th order Fresnel lens from the lighthouse is on display at the Lake Erie Island Historical Museum on South Bass Island.

New Marker for Destroyed Light

After meeting its final fate as it came crashing to the ground in 1948, having been deliberately destroyed by the United States Coast Guard, the Shinnecock Bay Lighthouse, one of the tallest ever built in the United States, will now be permanently remembered by a $1,200 historical marker where it once stood on Long Island, New York. The marker will also honor the 30 people who lost their lives when their ship ran aground in 1859 when the ship’s captain, unaware that the new lighthouse had been built, mistook the Shinnecock Bay Lighthouse for the Montauk Point Lighthouse.

Cape Bear to Be Moved

Now that a new community group has been formed to take over the long term care of the endangered Cape Bear Lighthouse on the southeastern tip of Canada’s Prince Edward Island, it is hoped that it can be moved before it topples over the precipice. The 1881 lighthouse is now less than 17 feet from the edge. Press reports indicate that Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans, the agency which oversees the Canadian Coast Guard, will assist in the relocation of the lighthouse. In 1963 the keeper’s house was moved a quarter mile from the lighthouse. The Marconi Station at Cape Bear was the first Canadian land station to receive the distress call of the Titanic in 1912.

Big Pink

Michigan’s Holland Harbor Lighthouse, known as "Big Red," has turned pink. Generally speaking, the lighthouse needs to be repainted every eight to ten years. However, it was repainted in 2009 and the rays of the sun have already faded the lighthouse to pink. "Repainting the lighthouse will cost $10,000," said a spokesperson for the Holland Harbor Historical Lighthouse Commission, the group that now owns the lighthouse, and they do not have the money to repaint the structure at this time. When the lighthouse was painted in 2009, the group had used the most expensive paint the group ever used. They are now in touch with the paint manufacturer to try to resolve this issue.


This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2012 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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