Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2016

Keeper’s Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Good News for the Maine Lighthouse Museum

The Maine Lighthouse Museum, which has the largest collection of lighthouses lenses and lamps in the United States, has signed a new extension agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard and the City of Rockland ensuring that the Coast Guard owned artifacts part of the collection will continue at its present location. A full inventory of what is in the collection will be conducted in the springtime, and then a further long-term agreement will be negotiated. Now is a good time to make a much needed donation to help ensure that the collection stays where it is. Donations to the Maine Lighthouse Museum can be done on-line at www.MaineLighthouseMuseum.org or by mail to P.O. Box 1116, Rockland, ME 04841.

Back Up at Two Harbors

Minnesota’s Two Harbors Lighthouse, now a popular bed and breakfast, was forced to close for a few days this past October because of a sewer backup, caused primarily by guests as well as the inn keepers flushing inappropriate items down the toilet. It took them a while to find a plumber who was able to repair the old plumbing system, which caused a number of reservations to be cancelled. But, all is well and the system was fixed. This proves that there is truth in the old statement, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” (Photo by John Sroka.)

Sea Girt Volunteers Honored

The Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee was recently honored by the City of Sea Girt, New Jersey for their volunteer efforts to save, restore, and protect their historic 1896 lighthouse. To honor the volunteer group, their name was inscribed onto the town’s memorial monument. Congratulations to this group of dedicated volunteers! (Photo by Keith Drexler.)

New FKRLF Logo

The Florida Keys Reef Lighthouse Foundation has a new logo: a reef lighthouse with a setting sun. Since all of their reef lights have similar designs, the logo represents all six lighthouses: Carysfort Reef, Sand Key, Sombrero Key, Alligator Reef, Fowey Rocks, and American Shoal, which was created from a photograph.

First Coast Guard Community

This past October, Camden County in the State of Georgia was officially designated as the nation’s first United States Coast Guard Community. While a number of communities around the nation carry a designation of Coast Guard City, this is the first time a region has been named a Coast Guard Community. The announcement came with the unveiling a new sign.

National Landmark Status Is Missing

While most lighthouses in the United States are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, did you know that there are only eleven lighthouses among the 2500 plus recognized structures that are National Historic Landmarks? They are Thacher Island Light Station, Boston Harbor Lighthouse, Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Navesink-Highlands Light Station, Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, Cape Henry Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Grosse Point Lighthouse. There are none at all on the Pacific Coast! You would think that St. George Reef Lighthouse in California would qualify.

Federal Money for Black Rock

A $439,000 Disaster Relief Assistance Grant has been award for Fayerweather Island to prevent the Black Rock Harbor Lighthouse in Bridgeport, Connecticut from being lost. Storms, including Super Storm Sandy, have removed the large rocks that protected the base of the lighthouse. An extensive number of rocks will be placed in such a way as to protect the lighthouse in high tides and storms. A new steel door will also be installed at the base of the tower. The money will be administered through the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office. (Photo by Margo Reeves Lewis.)

New Beacon at Plum Beach

The Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse have announced that a new VLB-44 LED light has been installed in the sparkplug style lighthouse that stands in the west passage of Narragansett Bay near North Kingston, Rhode Island. These styles of LED lights have been nicknamed “Pancake Lights” because of their shape and appearance. (Photo by Carol Whaley.)

Pier for New Point Comfort

Matthews County officials have received a $35,000 grant to be used to build a pier to the 1806 New Point Comfort Lighthouse in Bavon, Virginia to make it easier for contractors to work in preserving the structure. For safety reasons the pier will not be open to the public. (Photo by Deb Weissler.)

Wind Point Asks For Money

The Village of Wind Point, Wisconsin has reached out asking for financial help to maintain their lighthouse. The Village has budgeted $113,000 for 2016 for maintenance and $26,000 for operating expenses. After the Racine County officials were convinced that the lighthouse, is also good for the county as a whole, they allocated $10,000 to help out. It seems that the painting of the lighthouse which is not too far off in the distant future, will cost an estimated $236,000 and the village has spent $700,000 on the lighthouse in the last ten years. However, many lighthouse enthusiasts claim the lighthouse could generate a lot of additional money if they would open the tower for climb more than the five times a year, which is what they currently do. (Photo by John Sroka.)

Former Commandant Named Patriot of the Year

Admiral Thad Allen, the former Commandant of the Coast Guard, was named Patriot of the Year by the Mobile Bay Alabama Area Veterans Day Commission. He was honored at a luncheon last November 10th.

Dunkirk Gets Rotary Money

The Dunkirk Rotary Club of Dunkirk, New York recently made a generous donation to the Dunkirk Lighthouse & Veterans Museum. The excellent museum housed at the 1875 lighthouse is open from April through October. The lighthouse is sometimes referred to as the Point Gratiot Lighthouse because of its proximity to Point Gratiot on Lake Erie. (Photo by Ron Foster.)

Cockspur Closed

Officials at the Fort Pulaski National Monument have announced the closure of Cockspur Island Lighthouse and Lighthouse Island. It seems visitors are damaging the oyster beds that the lighthouse sits upon when landing by boat and walking and climbing over the fragile area that is being preserved to help protect the lighthouse. Recently, there has also been increased vandalism at the 1857 lighthouse that was decommissioned in the 1940s. In 1958, ownership of the lighthouse, located on the Savannah River in Savannah, Georgia, was transferred to the National Park Service. Visitors are now being asked to view the lighthouse from a distance. (Photo courtesy Craig and Deana Morgan.)

Bodie Island Keeper’s Child Lost

We are saddened to report on the passing of Erline Gaskill White who was the last surviving child of Bodie Island Lighthouse keeper Vernon Gaskill. Over the years, she, along with her brother John and sister Dorothy, shared many stories of growing up at North Carolina’s Bodie Island Lighthouse that are now saved for future generations. Our condolences go out to her family and friends.

Scituate Artifact on Mysteries Program

The fife used by Abigail and Rebecca Bates to scare off a contingent of British soldiers during the War of 1812 at Scituate Lighthouse in Scituate, Massachusetts was recently featured on the Travel Channel’s docudrama series “Mysteries at the Museum.” The sisters, daughters of lighthouse keeper Simeon Bates, became known as “The Army of Two.” If you missed this episode, watch for it on the reruns. (Photo by Rudy Bess.)

Our Thanks to Crisp Point

Our sincere thanks goes out to the Crisp Point Light Historical Society for recently promoting the lighthouse keeper’s grave marker fund to place U.S. Lighthouse Service lighthouse keeper markers at the gravesites of lighthouse keepers, especially of those who do not have a lighthouse group associated with them. To learn more about this very active lighthouse group, visit their web site at www.CrispPointLighthouse.org. (photo by Gladys Sluss.)

Marblehead Lighthouse on L.L. Bean Catalog

Ohio’s Marblehead Lighthouse got all kinds of national media attention when it was featured on the cover of an L.L. Bean Christmas gift catalog from a painting done by Cincinnati artist John Agnew. It’s only the 5th time in the history of L.L. Bean that a lighthouse has appeared on one of their covers. On the other hand, Lighthouse Digest has had beautiful paintings as well as photographs on our covers for an amazing 24 years and in spite of the press releases we send out about each cover, we barely get recognized by the national media. I guess we should put one of L.L. Bean’s famous boots on the cover of Lighthouse Digest and maybe then we would get the same media attention. Oh, by the way, Ohio’s famous Marblehead Lighthouse is one of the very few lighthouses that have ever appeared more than once on a cover of Lighthouse Digest: October of 2002, and again in October of 2007, which is shown here.

Marblehead Replica to be Built

Officials of Helena Township in Antrium County, Michigan have approved the construction of a replica of Ohio’s Marblehead Lighthouse to be built on Alden Harbor on the east side of Torch Lake. The 13-foot tall lighthouse structure will be constructed from funds donated by the Alden Volunteers Community Group and will enable boaters to safely navigate their way into the harbor at night.

New Marblehead Book

A wonderful new book, Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie, by James Proffitt, has just been released. The soft cover 160-page book is loaded with photos and information on the historic lighthouse. It can be ordered as item # 2173 for $21.99 plus $4.95 shipping from Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630, or by calling 207-259-2121, or on-line at www.LighthouseDigest.com.

Vandals Strike Again

For the second time in four years, vandals have struck at the Louisbourg Lighthouse in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. The vandals attacked the foghorn, knocking it out of commission. Then, with total disrespect, they attacked the handcrafted memorial benches that were paid for by family members at a cost of $700 to $800 each. One bench was ripped from its location and tossed over the cliff and the morons then took a hatchet to another one. Hopefully they will be caught and severely punished.

Irish Hills Towers to be Saved

It now appears that Michigan’s Irish Hills Towers, which we wrote about in the January/February 2006 edition of Lighthouse Digest, will be saved from demolition. In 2013 the 91-year-old towers were condemned and schedule for demolition. However, it appears that a grant has been received to begin their restoration.

Terrible Tilly Exhibit

A new exhibit featuring Oregon’s Tillamook “Terrible Tilly” Lighthouse is on display at the Seaside Museum, 570 Necanicum Drive in Seaside, Oregon. The exhibit is temporary and will remain on display until the end of the year. For more information, call 503-738-7065.

Butler Flats Sold

The 1898 Butler Flats Lighthouse in New Bedford Harbor in New Bedford, Massachusetts has been sold for $80,000 to a private individual in an on-line GSA auction. The lighthouse was originally offered by the government for free to any qualified nonprofit or other government entity, but no one wanted it. (Photo by Nick Korstad.)

New Owner for Browns Head

The American Lighthouse Foundation now owns the Browns Head Lighthouse on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. The 1832 light station was automated in 1987. In 1998, under the Maine Lights Program, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the Town of Vinalhaven, and it was used as a residence for the town’s manager. This past November, ownership was transferred to the American Lighthouse Foundation. (Photo by Karen Oakes.)

Making a Dream Come True

A 60-year-old Massachusetts man, Paul Silva, who has been seriously disabled after a series of strokes, recently got his dream come true - being a lighthouse keeper. The Coast Guard Station in Gloucester, Massachusetts opened up the Eastern Point Lighthouse and actually let Mr. Silva flip the switch to turn the light on and off. Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Devan Smith of Station Gloucester presented Silva with a certificate naming him honorary lighthouse keeper and gave him a pair of Challenge Coins. Silva said, “I’ll be forever grateful.” (Photo by Francine Dollinger.)

Sturgeon Point Log Books

This past October, the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse in Harrisville, Michigan held an unveiling ceremony of a lighthouse log book maintained and written by Perley Silverthorn, who was the lighthouse keeper at the lighthouse from 1869 to 1879. Apparently keeper Silverthorn kept two identical sets of log books, one that he kept for himself and one that he turned in to the government. When he retired, he started gluing newspaper clippings about various lighthouse stories of the time. The log book was donated to the Alcona Historical Society by descendants of Silverthorn. (Sturgeon Point Lighthouse photo by Charles W. Phipps, Jr.)

Maryport to be Relighted

One of the world’s oldest cast-iron towers may soon be relighted if local officials and historians have their way. Funds are being secured to restore and relight the old Maryport Lighthouse located on the Maryport Docks of the Cumbrian Coast of northwestern England in the town of Maryport. Built in 1796 the lighthouse was automated in the 1940s and deactivated sometime after that. However, when relighted, the beacon will only shine landward so that it will not be confusing to the mariner with other lights along the coast. (Photo by John Mobbs.)

Passing of Michel Forand

We are saddened to report on the passing of Michel Forand of Ottawa, Canada. He had a wealth of knowledge that he had learned over the years while collecting antique lighthouse post cards from all over the world. Many of the old and extremely rare images on the Lighthouse Digest Explorer Database came from his collection, and he often shared many old images with others for books and magazine stories. He may have had one of the largest collections of antique lighthouse post cards in the world. Michel Forand will be missed by his lighthouse friends and his passing will leave a large void in the lighthouse community. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends.

Gabarus Lighthouse Saved

In spite of a bureaucratic nightmare that brought the Nova Scotia Canada’s Gabarus Lighthouse to the brink of collapse, it was saved this past November when it was moved 40 foot back from the eroding cliff. At the time of the move, the 22-ton structure was only seven feet away from the cliff and was starting to lean. The day-long move was done by T & J Demeyere Properties that used a combination of heavy equipment, rails, and even dish detergent to ensure a smooth slide.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2016 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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