New in 1872
Sometimes the best record of lighthouses from around the world comes from old newspapers. These images, titled “New Lighthouses in Japan,” were published in the October 12, 1872 edition of The Illustrated London Times.
When Harper’s Weekly published this half-page image on April 19, 1879, it showed the newest and the best of the Life Saving Stations - and it was run by volunteers! The station was located in New York City at Pier 28 on the East River. The image was drawn by C.A. Keetels, who was apparently a very talented artist. This image even showed the interior of the small station and the station’s dog. Eventfully, volunteer duties were taken over by trained crews of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, which as a sister organization to the U.S. Lighthouse Service. In 1915, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service were merged to create the U.S. Coast Guard.
Old photographs of lighthouses under construction are hard to come by especially from other parts of the world. Shown here from the March 27, 1915 edition of Scientific American in a story titled “Building a Lighthouse on Shifting Sand” is an image of the third One Fathom Bank Lighthouse under British construction in 1907 in the Strait of Malacca off the coast of the nation of Malaysia. Although the lighthouse still stands today, it was deactivated in 1999 when a new modern lighthouse was built nearby. It is now referred to as the Old One Fathom Bank Lighthouse.
Oil Illumination Testing
This image from the March 25, 1882 edition of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper shows officials of the U.S. Lighthouse Board testing illuminating oils at the Lighthouse Depot on Staten Island, New York. The tests were made in a room especially set apart from others for this use. The floor and ceiling of the room was painted in dark colors in order that no ray of light may be lost in the very critical tests. The oil was tested for its specific gravity, its liability to explosion, and its illuminating power as compared with oils already in use.
Climbing Pass Manchac Lighthouse
This old image shows Explorer Scouts exploring and climbing what was left of the Pass Manchac Lighthouse near Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Unfortunately, we don’t know the year when the photo was taken. In 2012, the lighthouse was virtually destroyed in a hurricane; however, the lantern from the lighthouse is now on display at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum.
Sandy Hook Lightship in 1879
This rare wood-cut image of the first Sandy Hook Lightship appeared in the September 27, 1879 edition of Harper’s Weekly. The first Sandy Hook Lightship was a sail-schooner built of white oak with copper and brass fastenings. For 37 years, from 1854 to 1891, it marked the south edge of the Ambrose Channel.
Eastern Point Postal Card
In 1972, the United States Postal Service issued a prepaid post card that featured the 1890 Eastern Point Lighthouse in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was part of their Tourism Year of the Americas ’72 series. It is highly doubtful that the Postal Service will ever again issue prepaid post cards, making ones like this highly collectible.
Painting in 1950
Would you climb this ladder to paint a lighthouse? In 1950, Coast Guardsman Wilfred R. Gardes (1901-1979) took this photo while taking a break from painting California’s New Point Loma Lighthouse. This photo is from a large number of photographs that were taken by him and were recently donated to Lighthouse Digest. During his career, he was stationed at a number of west coast lighthouses, and his son, Bertran Frank Gardes, followed in his footsteps by joining the Coast Guard.
World War II Lookout
The Cape Elizabeth Light west tower (Two Lights) in Cape Elizabeth, Maine as it appeared in 1983.After the light tower was discontinued, its lantern was removed, leaving a headless tower. However, during World War II the west tower became a military observation post, and a cylindrical turret was installed atop the structure. In 1971, actor Gary Merrill, ex-husband of Bette Davis, purchased the west tower for $28,000. This is how it looked when Gary Merrill sold it in 1983. It looks much different today.
Painting in 1980
The Cape Elizabeth Light east tower (Two Lights) in Cape Elizabeth, Maine as it appeared when it was undergoing painting in September of 1980. The brown color was probably an undercoating rust inhibitor. This image also shows the lens in the lantern that is now on display at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine.
1879 Connecticut Lighthouse Rendition
This image (left) titled “Gathering Oysters by Steam off the New Lighthouse in New Haven, Connecticut” appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper on December 13, 1879. The lighthouse is supposed to be an image of the Southwest Ledge Lighthouse (shown below) in New Haven, Connecticut, which is also known as the New Haven Harbor Lighthouse. Apparently the artist never visited the site and drew the lighthouse from a written description. Very few people of the time would never have known that this is not what the lighthouse actually looked like.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 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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