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From The Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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Rebecca Shoal Light, Florida. Lighthouse Digest ...

This column continues to provide excerpts from the “Lighthouse Service Bulletin”, a monthly publication of the Bureau of Lighthouses, U.S. Department of Commerce. The first was issued in January 1912, and it continued throughout the existence of the Bureau. Unedited quotes from Volume III, Number 36, from December 1926, follow. The Bulletin had as it object “supplying information that will be immediately useful in maintaining or improving the standards of the Lighthouse Service, and of keeping the personnel advised of the progress of work and matters of general interest in the service and in lighthouse work in general.”

Increasing Aids To Navigation – More than a thousand new aids to navigation were installed by the Lighthouse Service during the fiscal year that ended June 30 last, according to the annual report of the Commissioner. During the same period, about 750 aids were discontinued. The total number of navigation aids at the end of the fiscal year was 18,130, including 6,400 lighted aids, 1,239 fog signals, and 10,718 unlighted aids. Many improvements to navigation were made. Among the most important were the changing of 77 fixed lights to flashing or occulting; the changing of the illuminant of 10 lights to incandescent oil vapor; 70 lights to acetylene; 16 to electric incandescent; the establishment of 12 radio beacons; and the installation of 3 gas operated fog signals.

Extensive Use of Radio Beacons On the Great Lakes – This is the first full season that the radio-beacon system has been in operation of the Great Lakes. Although one station of the Lakes was established in June, 1925, the remainder of the seven stations now in operation were placed in commission near the end of the last season. Reports indicate quite extensive use of this system already in lake navigation. Many vessels have been equipped with radio compasses to make use of these bearings. The stations now in operation are: Devils Island, Wis.; Manitou Island, Mich.; Whitefish Point, Mich.; Detour Lighthouse, Mich.; Lake Huron Lightship; Detroit River Lighthouse, Mich.; and Buffalo Lighthouse, N.Y.

Rebecca Shoal Automatic Light – On August 1, 1925, an automatic unattended flashing acetylene gas light was installed at Rebecca Shoal Lighthouse, Fla., seventh district, in place of the attended oil light. The equipment consists of triple flasher with three three-fourths cubic feet burners in a fourth-order fixed lens. The characteristic of the new light is a group of three flashes every fifteen seconds, duration of each flash one second, candlepower 1,000. The keepers of Dry Tortugas Lighthouse, nearly nineteen miles distant, saw the old light only on exceptionally clear nights; they now see the new light every night, except during thick weather.

Accident On Isle Royale, Mich. – On Sunday October 17, 1926, while the tender Amaranth was at anchor near Isle Royale, first officer J. A. Schneider, accompanied by two others of the vessel’s crew, was given shore leave. Mr. Schneider became separated from his companions and did not return to the ship. During the night a snowstorm set in. The island is practically uninhabited and its topographic conditions render it almost impassable, with swamps, cliffs, and dense forest. Diligent and continuous search was made and Mr. Schneider’s body was located on October 29 a considerable distance from where he was last seen. His lunch, which he had carried in his pocket, remained undisturbed. A coroner’s inquest determined that his death was due to heart failure.

The work of the Lighthouse Service requires that its officers and employees visit many remote and inaccessible localities. Good judgment would indicate that it is not necessary to take such shore trips under the conditions indicated in this case, and employees should be careful to take such precautions as will avoid these needless accidents. This is unfortunately the second case of this kind which has occurred during recent years. The assistant keeper of Mary Island Lighthouse, Alaska, having lost his life from exposure in December 1920.

Hours of Fog - The total amount of fog or thick weather observed at the various stations throughout the service have been tabulated for the fiscal year 1926. The results show, in general, that the average amount of fog recorded during the past year on all coasts, including the lake districts, has been about 16.5 per cent below normal, and that all stations have a decrease compared with the previous year, with the exception of the 16th, 17th, and 18th districts (Alaska and the Pacific coast). The greatest amount of fog was observed at Moose Peak Light Station, Me., in the first district, aggregating 1,486 hours for the year, or approximately 17 per cent of the time.

This story appeared in the Nov/Dec 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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