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From The Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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William C. Redfield, Secretary of Commerce ...

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 Issue Number 39, dated March, 1915, 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.”

Remarks of the Secretary of Commerce – In passing on the case of an employee who complained that he was required to do work beneath his position in the Lighthouse Service, Secretary Redfield said: “You may understand it is my position in matters of this kind that I do not know what the kind of work can be which is beneath any man’s position. I think there is no work of which I know that is beneath my dignity to do, and I am glad to say that I have done the plainest and hardest and, what is sometimes mistakenly called, the most menial work, and am ready to do it again if there is occasion for it.”

Unusual Range of Visibility of Lights – The Hydrographic Office, Navy Dept., has forwarded the following marine data from the master of the American tank steamer Amolco. “During the first half of the nights on February 12 and 13, 1915, unusual atmospheric conditions must have existed which made it possible to see Cape Canaveral light (Fla), 36 miles; Hetzel Shoal gas buoy (Fla), 20 miles; Hillsboro Inlet light (Fla), 53 miles; and reflections of same about 56 miles. The height of the eye was then about 35 feet.”

“The approximate geographic ranges of these lights for 35 feet height of eye are as follows: Cape Canaveral, 20 miles; Hetzel Shoal, 11 miles; Hillsboro Inlet, 20 miles.”

Storm At Cape Sarichef Light Station, Alaska – On December 25, 1914, during a severe gale, considerable damage was done at the Cape Sarichef Station. The following is a report of William J. Pearson, first assistant keeper:

“On the 24th of December we had a very heavy SE gale with a terrific sea running on the beach. It continued running heavy and kept increasing in fury until at ten minutes to 7 in the morning of the 25th a tremendous sea swept up past the houses up onto the cement sidewalk and smashed the outer storm door and the inner glass door all to splinters, and flooded the storeroom, cellar, dining room, kitchen and pantry, the water being waist deep in the house. I am glad to report that there is no loss to the rations as I had made a table and put up a set of shelves in the store-room, so the rations were out of the way of the water, with the exception of 200 pounds of half-ground salt. The biggest part of the salt is gone and a dead loss, as sand, rocks, grass, and moss were strewn so thick we had to scoop it out of the rooms.”

Storm At Racine Reef Light Station, Wis. – [Report of Edward W. Knudsen, Keeper, Feb. 6, 1915.] “I have to report that on February 1, 1915, this station experienced the most severe storm of the season to date. While the wind was blowing from the E. and ENE, the station was covered with one continuous cloud of spray, which flooded all the north and east rooms. Lantern glass was covered with ice to a thickness of eight inches on east and north-east sides. The building vibrated to such an extent that furniture was moved across the rooms and books and other articles on shelves were thrown off.”

Legislation Affecting Lighthouse Service – The Act of Congress approved March 3, 1915, authorizes the following works at limits of costs herein specified, and enacts certain legislation affecting the Lighthouse Service. The authorizations however carry no appropriation of funds. A light at or near Dog Island, entrance to St. Croix River, Me - $3,500. Improving Aids to navigation in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - $80,000. Light and fog signal station at or near Kellett Bluff, Henry Island, Wash., or at some point on the west coast of San Juan Island, Wash. - $40,000.

Authority was granted for the following purposes: Leave of absence for per diem employees who have served twelve consecutive months; cooperation between the Lighthouse Service and the Forest Service in the management of forest land on lighthouse reservations. [This section shows only some of what the Act approved.]

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

This story appeared in the Sep/Oct 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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