Digest>Archives> January 2000

Keepers Korner

Tid-bits from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Shop Talk

May I suggest, if you don't yet have a copy, the book, Lost Lighthouses written by myself and Ray Jones. The book details, with vintage photographs and history, many of America's lighthouses which no longer exist. Many of our nations lighthouses have been destroyed by war, vandalism, erosion and neglect or simply to make way for progress. We believe the book should be in every home and community library. By reading it, you will better understand why it is important to save the lighthouses we have left. Lost Lighthouses is available from most book stores or from Lighthouse Depot by calling 1-800-758-1444 or on the internet at www.LighthouseDepot.com.

It seems that Gary Pros of Hot Springs, Arkansas should win some type of award. He recently sent us a list (with a number of beautiful photographs) of lighthouses and maritime attractions he visited in 1999. In 16 days he drove 6858 miles, took 480 photos, 7 3/4 hours of video and visited over 80 lighthouses, plus lightships, maritime museums, and he even had time to visit a number of stores (including Lighthouse Depot in Wells, Maine) to purchase lighthouse items.

Watch for the following new books coming this spring Keepers of Valor, Lighthouses, Lake Boats and Lifesavers by Wes Oleszewski and Keepers and Cutters by Fred Stonehouse. Please do not call to order these books yet, since we do not know the exact dates of publication and the cost. Watch for them to be advertised in a future issue of Lighthouse Digest.

Lighthouse Passings

Kenneth A Perry, 49, of Portland, Maine has died after a brief illness. Mr. Perry served 20 years in the United States Coast Guard with several years of that service as a Keeper of Portland Head Light. After his retirement from the USCG, he became a self employed postal contractor.

Probably one of the best U. S. Senator friends to lighthouses, if the not the very best has passed away this last October. Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island was 77 at the time of his death. Some of the bills that he introduced in Congress included the Endangered Species Act of 1982 and 1988; the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992; the North American Wetland Act of 1990; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1990 and the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996. But more importantly to the lighthouse community he was a champion of lighthouse preservation. He was instrumental in helping to move Block Island, RI Southeast Lighthouse, and having it declared a National Historic Landmark. He also cleared the way to get the restored Sakonnet Lighthouse relit.

Lighthouse Preservation

The Kittery Historical and Naval Museum in Kittery, Maine will soon be getting the original lens from Maine's tallest lighthouse, Boon Island Light. The museum is seeking funds to help to make this an exceptionally appealing exhibit. Donations can be sent to, Kittery Historical and Naval Museum, P.O. Box 453, Rogers Rd., Kittery, Maine 03904.

The interior tower walls of Michigan's Big Sable Lighthouse look like new, thanks to the efforts of volunteers who spent weeks scrapping, patching and painting. They also did the steps and replaced window sills. Plus masonry work on the base of the tower has been completed. Plans are now underway for the painting of the exterior of the tower.

A new replacement bronze plaque memorializing the loss of the Portland Steamship in the famous gale of 1898 has been donated to the town of Truro, MA. The original plaque which was donated by famous New England historian Edward Rowe Snow and attached to Cape Cod's Highland Lighthouse was stolen years ago. The Portland was lost with 176 lives. The Portland was not the only ship to be lost in that famous storm, over 140 other ships also met their end on that fateful day. The new plaque was donated by Dennis, MA business man Paul Prue.

If you want to do something nice for the new year you might consider purchasing a membership or a gift membership in the National Lighthouse Center and Museum. Memberships are: Basic, $25; Family, $50; Supporting, $100; patron, $250; and corporate or sustaining, $500. Send to National Lighthouse Center and Museum, One Lighthouse Plaza, Staten Island, NY 10301.

Florida's St. Augustine Lighthouse will be painted in 2004. The local county commissioners have appropriated $100,000 for then. Four years is a long ways off and we hope the lighthouse still looks good by the time the painting is scheduled to be done.

The State of Michigan is again taking the initiative in realizing lighthouses as an important part of tourism. The state has approved $3 million for publicly owned lighthouses. To get a share of the money, a lighthouse proposal must focus on the economic impact a community can realize from the revitalization. Commenting on the legislation, Michigan's Governor John Engler said, "Residents and visitors to the state of Michigan recognize lighthouses as an integral part of our heritage."

The State of New York and Independence Savings Bank have committed $50,000 each for operating expenses for the future National Lighthouse Center and Museum in Staten Island, NY. Recently some work has been done to stabilize some of the structures at the old Lighthouse Depot on Staten Island. The 1864 Barracks and the 1868 Lamp Shop have been given new roof coverings. This temporary measure will last a few years and allow the National Museum to work on stabilzation projects which are expected to start this spring.


We are considering adding the Culebrita Lighthouse in Puerto Rico to our Doomsday List of Endangered lighthouses. However, in order to do so, we need close up photographs of the lighthouse. Our requests for photos from various government agencies in Puerto Rico have apparently fallen by the wayside. If any of readers can help with photographs, we would appreciate hearing from you.

Another controversy is brewing between locals and tourism. This one's at Florida's Amelia Island Lighthouse. The Coast Guard has turned the lighthouse over to GSA who, in turn, wants to give the lighthouse to someone who will take care of it. A dedicated group of volunteers wants to turn the lighthouse into a museum. On the other hand, locals are worried that if the lighthouse is opened to the public, throngs of tourists will change their neighborhood forever.

Robert E. Woody, public information officer at North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore has been awarded the National Freeman Tilden Award for his, "outstanding work in managing a pro-active mass media campaign for the moving of the lighthouse." In his acceptance remarks, Woody stated, "The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse makes particularly strong statement about who we are as a people and a nation, not only about our past, but also about our future." National Park Service Director Robert Stanton said that Woody's work "turned the engineering adventure of moving the lighthouse 2900 feet into a learning experience for the whole country by focusing on the essential need to educate the public on heritage preservation and the role it plays as part of our everyday lives."

Jeremy D'Entremont has a new lighthouse bulletin board on his New England Lighthouses site. It's a great spot to post questions, comments, answers, news and whatever. You can get to at http://pluto.beseen.com/boardroom/w/45235/

This story appeared in the January 2000 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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