Digest>Archives> May/Jun 2019

From The Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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Lighthouse tender servicing Michigan’s Stannard ...

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 Vol. 11, No. 55, dated July 1922, follow. The Bulletin had as its 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.”

Rock of Ages Light Visibility – The keeper of Outer Island Light Station, Wis., reports that on the night of May 7 both the first and second assistant keepers plainly observed the Rock of Ages Light flashing from the Outer Island Station. The distance between these two lights is about 76 miles.

Value of Radio Compass In Locating A Ship In Distress – On the night of March 15 the British steamer Lord Strathcona lost her propeller in a rough sea and sent out signals of distress. The American steamer W. M. Burton was assigned to her assistance, but upon arriving at her given position no signs of the vessel could be seen. The captain on the disabled ship had no sight for a couple of days and was uncertain of his position. The visibility was very poor at the time and nothing could be seen further than one mile. The British ship Casandra, which had a radio compass in its radio equipment, gave the bearing of the two ships from her position and very shortly afterward the steamer Lord Strathcona was sighted.

Radio Fog Signal, Cape Finisterre, Spain – A radio fog signal station has been established at Cape Finisterre in latitude 42o 52’56” N, longitude 9o16’20”W. The signal consists of a musical note of 500 vibrations per second, transmitted on a 1000-meter wave every 7.5 seconds, sound 0.5 second, silent 7 seconds.

Stannard Rock Light Station, Mich. – When landing the keepers at Stannard Rock Light Station, Lake Superior, Mich., at the opening of navigation this spring, it was discovered that almost the entire wrought-iron sheathing around the concrete pier supporting the stone towers had been torn away. This sheathing was put in place in 1882 when the structure was built and was used as a form or container for the mass concrete filling of which the pier was made and also as protection for the latter against impact of the ice. The plates were one-half inch thick, 5 feet wide, and 11 feet long, and consisted of seven belts or sections, riveted together with lap joints in telescope fashion. Apparently there were no stiffening angles inside nor anchoring bolts or fasteners to secure it to the pier. When the plates were examined after the damage there was no evidence of corrosion. It is difficult to state in what manner the failure took place, but it is probable that it was occasioned through the formation of heavy overhanging ice early in the winter which was somewhat loosened by mild weather. . . . . The concrete work inside of the sheathing was found to be an excellent piece of work and in fine state of preservation.

Superintendent and Chief Clerk, Nineteenth District – On May 17, 1922, Ralph R. Tinkham assumed the duties of superintendent of lighthouses in the nineteenth lighthouse district, Honolulu, Hawaii, relieving A. E. Arledge. Mr. Tinkham was formerly assistant superintendent in the eighth district, New Orleans, La. On April 19, 1922, Theodore TeGrootenhuis assumed the duties of chief clerk in the nineteenth district, relieving J. A. Shadinger.

Saving of Life and Property - On May 25 a newsboy came on board the lighthouse tender Orchid, slipped at the buoy gangway, and fell overboard so suddenly that no one on board saw him fall. When he was heard crying in the water, James F. Kelly, seaman on the Orchid, jumped after him, caught him under the water, and dragged him ashore before the boy became unconscious. The prompt action of Kelly saved the boy from drowning.

Passing of the Oldest Lighthouse Tender – [Item from JUNE 1922 Bulletin]

After over 50 years of service, the tender Mistletoe was sold at auction on April 27, 1922, having outlived her usefulness. The work of the Lighthouse Service now requires larger and stronger vessels, equipped with modern gear, for handling the improved buoys and other aids to navigation, so that the expense of the repair and maintenance of this vessel was no longer justified. The Mistletoe, the last but one of the old side-wheel tenders, is 51 years old, having been built in 1871 at Chester, Pa., for the sum of $45,833. She is constructed of wood, and her original dimensions were: length, 137 feet; beam, 26 feet; draft, 7 feet; gross tonnage, 332. In 1881 the vessel was lengthened 16 feet. It was built for use in the third lighthouse district, New York and vicinity, where it remained throughout its service. Until the reorganization in 1910, the Mistletoe was an engineer’s tender, engaged principally on work of construction and repairs, being especially useful in her early years during the construction of the two important stations on Stratford Shoal and on Race Rock, Long Island Sound. During the Spanish-American War this vessel did patrol duty in the mine fields in lower New York Bay.

This story appeared in the May/Jun 2019 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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