Digest>Archives> September 2003

Floating Life Saving Stations — A Rare Species

By Jeremy D'Entremont


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This floating lifesaving station near City Point ...

By the 1880s, stations of the United States Life-Saving Service lined our nation’s coastlines and the Great Lakes. An often-overlooked bit of Life-Saving Service history is the two floating stations that were established in the United States. The stations were anchored in offshore locations that made it easier to reach wrecks than it would have been from shore. Lifeboats were launched from bays in the sterns of the stations.

The Louisville Station in Kentucky on the Ohio River was put into service in 1881, and its 1929 steel-hulled successor is still afloat. The other was the City Point Station in Dorchester Bay, Boston Harbor.

The City Point Station was established in 1896 to “render assistance in the numerous casualties occurring to yachts and sailboats in that vicinity,” according to an Annual Report of the Life-Saving Service. It was one of the first stations established primarily because of increased recreational boating. The original station was rebuilt in 1913, but it remained an active station at least into the 1930s.

One of the more dramatic rescues in the history of the station occurred in August 1912 when Surfman Christopher J. Sullivan saved a woman who had been a passenger on a capsized launch. The woman was unconscious when she was pulled from underwater but was resuscitated, and Sullivan was awarded a silver lifesaving medal.

This story appeared in the September 2003 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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