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From The Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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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 No. 18, dated June 1913, 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.”

Painting Lantern Interiors – In painting the interiors of lanterns, in accordance with the regulations, 1911, all steel and iron shall be given at least two coats of red lead directly on the metal before applying the white paint. It is highly important that all corrosion be removed before applying the red lead, and that it is well brushed into the surface and allowed to dry thoroughly between coats.

Frying Pan Shoals Light Vessel Off Station – At about 10 p.m. on April 10, Frying Pan Shoals Light Vessel No.94 North Carolina, parted her moorings. The vessel struck lightly on the shoal twice before steam was raised in her boilers, and the vessel anchored in deep water. Shortly after starting for her station, early the next morning, the steering gear on the vessel became disabled, and she was obliged to head to Southport, under spare tiller and tackles, where she arrived at 6p.m. being towed on the last part of the trip by the Quartermaster Department’s towboat General Getty. No serious damage was suffered by the light vessel, and she returned to her station on the afternoon of the 12th.

Unattended Light Vessel – The English lighthouse service proposes to establish on or about June 1913, an unattended gas boat or light vessel in Barrow Channel, Thames River entrance. This vessel will show at an elevation of 28 feet a white group-flashing light giving three flashes of one half-second each, in quick succession, every 20 seconds, and will be fitted with a bell.

Rattlesnake On A Post Light – The keeper of the Wadmelaw River lights, South Carolina, reports the following incident: “On Thursday afternoon May 29, when the man who assists in this work was ascending the Beacon No. 3, and while nearly at the top, he heard just above his head a terrific buzzing sound that caused him to hurriedly descend. Peering around for the cause, he was amazed to discover a huge rattlesnake that had coiled itself just under the light box; arming himself with an oar he succeeded in making it plunge overboard by thrusts of the oar, when to his amazement, as well as discomfiture, the now thoroughly angered reptile, instead of making off, swam back to the beacon and proceeded to ascend, weaving its body in and out between the steps. Fortunately, he managed to give it another well-directed blow with the oar, which caused it to drop back into the water and float off apparently dying.” The master of the lighthouse tender Water Lily states that it is not an infrequent occurrence to find moccasins and sometimes rattlesnakes on post lights which stand in the water, especially on the St. Johns River.

Meritorious Services - On May 11, William L. Tutty, keeper, and Harry Crandall, assistant keeper, of New Haven Light Station, Conn., rescued two men from a boat which was in a dangerous position owing to the high seas, and on April 27; Harry Crandall also rescued two men from a capsized sailing dory and brought them to the station. On May 8, Ernest C. Tull, first officer on the tender Orchid, jumped into the water and rescued one of the crew of that vessel, who was knocked overboard as the result of an accident to the derrick. Unaka B. Jennett, master, and the officers and crew of Thirty-Five Foot Channel Light Vessel No.45, Virginia, have been commended for good care taken of the vessel while on station, thus saving the time and expense of a tender and force of laborers. F.C. Palmer, superintendent, has been commended for the judgement and skill shown by him in the installation of the lens apparatus at the Kilauea Point Light Station, Hawaii. On June 7, in a heavy sea, the tender Marigold went to the assistance of a derrick scow with two men on board, which had been abandoned by a disabled tug, and towed the scow to safe harbor.

Device To Awaken Light Keepers – A recording thermometer along the lines mentioned in Lighthouse Service Bulletin for April 1912, was installed at Cape Flattery Light Station, Wash., by Mr. E.L. Sherman, mechanician, 17th district, in April 1913, of the following description:

“The recording instrument used is a Bristol’s class III thermometer with a temperature range from 0 to 430 degrees F. fitted with high and low temperature alarms, placed in the service room below the lantern, so arranged that the contacts to the bells may be set at any predetermined points, and as the high and low contacts are set independently of each other any range of temperature between the two may be allowed. As set in this instance a range of 170 degrees between the two points where the bells will not ring is allowed. An alarm system of three bells is installed, one each in base of tower, fog signal building, and keeper’s dwelling. Six dry cells compose the battery for the circuit. The causes of alarm ringing are lack of proper ventilation, light dying down gradually, or light going out suddenly, with other minor causes such as mechanical or electrical troubles. While operating satisfactorily, the general effect of the installation on the light keeper was to cause a close watch to be kept on the light, and not to trust the alarm too much. The actual thermometer (Bristol’s No. 312) was suspended in a vertical position 14 inches above the top of the vaporizer tube and surrounded its full length by a brass shield 3 inches in diameter. The charts used are Bristol’s No. 693 uniformly graduated in 10-inch spaces. They are changed every 24 hours at midnight. The total cost of the installation was approximately $100.”

[The July 1913 issue of the “Bulletin” included this

correction to the item above.]

Device To Awaken Keepers – The device to awaken light keepers, a brief description of which was published in the Lighthouse Service Bulletin No. 18, was worked up by Mr. C. E. Sherman, machinist, seventeenth district, and not by Mr. E. L. Sherman, as stated.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2022 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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