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From The Lighthouse Service Bulletin - Special Edition

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 following is the text of a letter from H. W. Maynard, the Captain/Master of the U.S. Lighthouse Tender ship Hyacinth, which served on Lake Michigan, to his Supervisor in Milwaukee. It was published in its entirety in the September 1926 issue of the Bulletin.

Special Edition

Tender Hyacinth

Manitowoc, Wis. August 13, 1926

Superintendent of Lighthouses, Milwaukee, Wis.


It has been suggested that I address a letter to your office giving some of the facts about Sport, our ship’s dog, and some of the incidents of his life on board this vessel with an idea that perhaps he rates just a line or two in the Lighthouse Service Bulletin.

Sport was just a dog, but he was always a good dog and a good shipmate, a friend to everybody and everybody’s friend. I do not think he had an enemy and I am certain that he had more friends, or perhaps I should say acquaintances, around the shores of Lake Michigan than any man on ship today.

Sport came aboard this vessel back in 1914 when Engineer Albert Collins and Machinist Clifford Perry pulled him out of the Milwaukee River during a thunderstorm. He was in a pitiful condition and practically skin and bones. He was rescued and fed, and apparently from that minute on, never had a notion to leave the ship.

Many things have happened to Sport and he has figured in many of the happenings of the ship in the 12 years he spent on board, which is longer than any officer or member of the crew has been here. It will not do to go into all the details of his life, for they are many.

It is enough to say that when he was in his prime there was no place on the vessel that he did not visit, and nothing going on that he did not have a hand or paw in. He swam and played baseball with the boys. No boat could go ashore without Sport; on many occasions he has carried a heaving line to shore in the breakers when landing on the beach at some light station with our scow.

He was lost in Chicago on one occasion and could not be found and we were a sad lot when we left Chicago without him and a happy lot when, on the second day in Milwaukee, the Captain of the passenger steamer Indiana called me on the telephone to tell me he had Sport on board and to come over and get him. It was learned afterwards that someone had tied him up in a barn in Chicago and it just so happened that a man who had been a fireman on board was driving an ice wagon at this time and found Sport in the barn and brought him back to our Chicago pier keeper, who in turn gave him to Captain Redner on the Indiana to deliver to us at Milwaukee. All of which goes to show that Sport had friends everywhere.

Sport died of old age on July 19, 1926. He was sewed in canvas and buried at sea on the afternoon of the following day, two miles off Ludington, Mich. All hands were mustered on the spar deck where, with a few words for Sport to the effect that he had been taken from the waters and was now being returned to them, he was slid off the gangplank by a bunch of solemn-looking boys. He was given a salute and thus ended Sport, the best dog I have ever known.


H. W. Maynard, Master

That’s another sampling “From the Bulletin.” Watch this space in each issue of Lighthouse Digest for more.

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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