Digest>Archives> May/Jun 2017

From the Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham

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The Peche Island Range Front Light was misspelled ...

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, No. 49, dated January 3, 1928 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.”

Explosion of Acetylene Gas At Peach Island, Mich.

The Peach [sic] Island range front tower, eleventh lighthouse district, was destroyed by fire and explosion on the evening of Nov. 5, 1927. The steel plate tower supporting a standard eight-sided lantern, exhibited an unwatched occulting acetylene light in a fourth-order lens.

The fire apparently started on the easterly side of the crib. Two boys, the city fire tug, and the lighthouse tender Thistle responded to the alarm. The fire tug had just started to put water on the fire when an explosion took place which lifted the tower about 30 feet in the air and blew it open. The chief lesson to be drawn from this explosion is the need of thorough adequate ventilation near the base of similarly arranged structures.

Close of Navigating Season On Great Lakes

– Reports received from the three lighthouse districts comprising the Great Lakes indicate that the operations of the Lighthouse Service during the hazardous and trying days of the close of navigation for the season were accomplished safely, not-withstanding severe weather conditions. Four merchant vessels were driven ashore as a result of a gale during the first week of December, three being completely wrecked, and the fourth has not yet been reported. Conditions in the St. Marys River caused a blockade of the channels which could not be freed by powerful ice-breaking tugs, and about 25 steamers were forced to abandon their down-bound passage and go into winter quarters at Sault Ste. Marie with their cargoes.

The work of the Lighthouse Service in the closing of stations and picking up of gas buoys was conducted with difficulty but without accident. In the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior it was impossible for the lighthouse tender Amaranth to reach shore with the keepers of Devils Island and Outer Island Light Stations, and they were accordingly landed on the ice and proceeded into Bayfield on foot. The keepers of Passage Island Station were the last ones brought ashore and were landed at Rossport, Ontario, by the Canadian Government on December 22.

At Spectacle Reef, on Lake Huron, it was necessary for the keepers to leave the building by the windows, owing to the great masses of ice which had formed on the pier blocking the doors.

Use of Radio Compass In Alaskan Waters

Interesting information has been received regarding the valuable assistance given by the radio compass aboard the Coast Guard cutter Algonquin during its voyage in the Bering Sea this past summer. The apparatus was found to be a decided help in cruising about the Pribilof Islands, a very foggy region, cross bearings being obtained from radio stations on St. Paul and St. George Islands. Also stations at Nome, Cape Sarichef, and in Bristol Bay were used, and in each case the instrument was found to be dependable. The radio compass was also used for S.O.S. signals and was the means of accurately locating a disabled vessel adrift in Bering Sea.

While the Algonquin was off Nunivak Island, bearings were given several icebound steamers en route to Nome, enabling them to work out of the ice fields and to avoid the shoals off Cape Romanzof. Several messages of appreciation were received from the masters of these vessels commending the accuracy of the bearings furnished by the Algonquin.

Automatic Light and Fog-Signal Station, Pooles Island Bar, Maryland

The unwatched light and fog signal station marking Pooles Island Bar, Maryland, was placed in commission November 29, 1927. The aid is located about 1,300 yards from the South end of Pooles Island, upper part of Chesapeake Bay, to mark the channel on the east side of the island used chiefly by vessels passing through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. This is the third structure of its kind to be erected in Chesapeake Bay.

That’s a sampling “From the Bulletin.”Watch this space in future issues of this magazine for more.

This story appeared in the May/Jun 2017 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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