Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2023

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 excerpts from Issue No. 51, dated March 1916 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.”

Rescue By Tender Columbine – On the morning of January 17 the wireless operator of the tender Columbine intercepted a message stating that the bark British Yeoman was in distress at Port Allen, Kauai, Hawaii, and requesting that aid be rushed. Although a heavy southwest gale was blowing, the tender immediately got underway, and at arrival off Port Allen found the bark, with her rudder disabled and her stern in the breakers on a lee shore, flying signals of distress. The tender worked under dangerous and difficult conditions during that day and night in her endeavors to save the bark, and much credit is due the master and other officers and the crew of the tender for the courage and seamanship they displayed. On account of the stormy weather and heavy seas the towing hawser parted four times, and finally, early on the morning of January 18, when through the efforts of the tender immediate danger was past, it was necessary for the tender to wireless for assistance, she having no towing lines left on board and being unable to bring the bark to port. The tender stood by the bark all day until the arrival of the Navy tug Navajo which towed the bark to Honolulu . . . The master of the tender reports that all hands were without sleep for 56 hours, and that the wireless operator, although sick, stuck to his post.

Following excerpt is from Commerce Secretary William Redfield’s letter to Commissioner Putnam of the Bureau. The Secretary directed that this letter be posted “on every vessel and in every station of the Service.”

“Following the custom of the Department, letters have been sent to Capt. Frank T. Warringer and the other officers of the United States lighthouse ship Columbine commending them and the crew of that vessel for their valuable services in saving the bark British Yeoman on January 17 to 19, 1916. The circumstances of this case are, however, such that the usual letters of commendation seem insufficient, even though they are made a portion of the official records of the men concerned. I therefore bring to the attention of the entire Lighthouse Service the facts in this case, not only to show my appreciation of the extraordinary skill and courage with which this rescue was affected, but also to make it an example to all of unselfish devotion to duty.

Following exerpt is from Secretary Redfield’s letter to Capt. Warringer, The Secretary asked that the letter “be brought to the attention of all those persons who assisted in the service rendered.”

“From accounts of this rescue it appears that had it not been for courage, resourcefulness and persistence displayed by you and your crew and other employees of the Lighthouse Service on board the Columbine at the time, the British Yeoman would have been wrecked on the beach. I take special pleasure in commending you for your gratifying exhibition of seamanship in connection with this rescue, and also desire to express my high appreciation for the services rendered by all on board during the rescue, in which the best traditions of the Lighthouse Service have been upheld as well.”

Pamphlet of the Lighthouse Service – The department has recently issued a pamphlet entitled “The United States Lighthouse Service, 1915,” which has been published for the purpose of furnishing general information regarding the organization and operation of the Service, and to enable the Bureau to supply data asked for in inquiries frequently received. It is an octavo volume of 94 pages, with illustrations of typical structures and equipment, and contains chapters on the duties and jurisdiction of the Service, with an account of its history, growth methods, and personnel, as well as descriptions of various types of aids to navigation and apparatus used, including the lighthouse tenders and depots. The general activities of the Service in other lines, such as saving of life and property, lighting of bridges, private aids, etc are discussed. Comparative statistics of the lights and fog signals of the world are given, from which it appears that the United States Lighthouse Service has under its charge materially more of such aids than any other organization.

Storm Damage At Point Reyes Light Station – The following report was received by the keeper of Point Reyes regarding a storm experience on that station of January 27, 1916.

“Dear Sir: I am herewith respectfully forwarding reporting damage done to property at Point Reyes Light Station by a northwest hurricane blowing at 104 miles per hour the whole afternoon. One chimney on large dwelling blown down; One telephone post and some wire became broken and the whole telephone system badly strained; Part of the roofing on the tank house was blown off; Forty-six feet of picket fencing at rain shed went down; Forty feet of picket fence at the blacksmith shop was lifted out of the ground and landed against the rain shed; Forty-six feet of board fence at the old rain shed went down flat. Very respectfully, Paulus Nilsson, Keeper.”

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2023 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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