Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2004

Forgotten lighthouse history

Only you can help locate it


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U. S. Lighthouse Service Tender Camellia under ...

One of the most forgotten parts of America’s lighthouse history is the stories, photographs and memories of the lighthouse tenders and the men who serviced on them.

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Deck-houses of the U. S. Lighthouse Service ...

Douglas Peterson, in his book, United States Lighthouse Service Tenders, wrote in his introduction, “They were the forgotten fleet of the federal government. They did their jobs with little or no fanfare. . . . . These unsung heroes were the tenders of the U.S. Lighthouse Service.”

But what has happened to the photographs of the crew members and captains. There must have been hundreds, if not thousands of photographs taken. Yet, today, there are only but a few photos of the crew members in the archives of a number of historical societies. This means those photos and written memories must still be around in family albums, trunks in the attic, and in family Bibles as well as historical organizations.

Lighthouse Digest is always trying to locate and document those photographs and memories. We’d like to create one national database of photographs of crew members of the lighthouse tenders. But only you, our readers can help us locate this lost part of America’s lighthouse history. Check with you local historical society and see if they have any crew member photos, check the library, antique stores and old trunks. Check the archives of your local newspapers, there must be a number of photos and stories there.

Send what you find to Lighthouse Digest, PO Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630.

Shown here are two original photographs recently donated to the American Lighthouse Foundation by Judi and Tom Kearny. They had been part of the permanent archives of the Museum of Lighthouse History in Wells, Maine and are now on display at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland.

The photographs show the U.S. Lighthouse Service Tender Camellia under construction. It was completed and commissioned in 1911 and assigned to the 8th Lighthouse District in New Orleans. During World War I it served with the War Department. Decommissioned in 1947, it was sold to the government of the Dominican Republic in 1949 and renamed Capotillo. We know it was rebuilt in 1970, but we don’t know its status as of today.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2004 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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