Digest>Archives> April 2005

Keepers Korner

News and Notes from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Taiwan declares its independence at lighthouse relighting ceremony

In a speech before relighting the Fuiguiqiao Lighthouse (also known as Fukuei Cape Lighthouse), former Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui declared Taiwan as a separate independent sovereign nation separate from China.

In ceremonies that took place at the lighthouse on Feb. 28, the former president stated, "Our ‘Light of February 28’ will beam across the world to declare to the world formally Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation country, and Taiwan and China are two countries on both sides of the Taiwan Strait." He stated that the relighting ceremony is a milestone on the march to democracy and liberty that will never be turned back by the Communist Chinese government.

As the light in the lighthouse was turned on, a huge map of Taiwan was shown on the wall of the lighthouse that is located 10 miles north of Tamsui, the oldest town in north Taiwan.

It is interesting to note here that last year Jim Streeter, co-chair of the Avery Point Lighthouse Society, (CT), a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, visited Taiwan. At that time, Taiwanese Lighthouse Director Lin-Chung Fa presented him with a cut glass paperweight, one of only ten ever made, with the emblem of the Directorate General of Customs, Ministry of Finance that runs the Taiwanese Lighthouse Service. The emblem has a lighthouse on it. This summer the gift will be on display at the Museum of Lighthouse History in Wells, Maine.

Landmark lighthouse torn down

The 90-foot decorative lighthouse built to spruce up the main entry to Atlantic City, New Jersey, will soon be history. Built as part of a beautification project in 1997, at a cost of $3 million, the area will soon be replaced by retail stores. Whether or not the lighthouse will be saved remains to be seen. There is now talk that it will be moved to Wildwood, NJ. Personally, I always thought it was an ugly representation of a lighthouse. But others called it art.

Currituck will never be out of the news

Apparently, North Carolina’s Currituck County officials will never give up trying to steal the Currituck Lighthouse from the Outer Banks Conservationists, the legitimate nonprofit that restored the lighthouse and now owns it. County officials have suggested since the nonprofit is still violating zoning laws that the county should buy the lighthouse from the nonprofit, even though it’s not for sale and even though the deed from the federal government will not allow it to be sold. I have never seen such waste of taxpayer time and money in my life as some publicly elected officials of North Carolina keep up with their "good ol’ boy" politics. Look for more news from Currituck in this issue.

Overfalls Lightship stuck

Plans call for the Overfalls Lightship now rusting and stuck in the mud in Lewes, Delaware, to be pulled out and dry-docked on land as a permanent land-based museum. It is believed that the hull is currently at risk if it is not removed. Estimated cost to get it out and set it up as a land-based museum is $600,000. For more information contact the Overfalls Maritime Museum, P. O. Box 413, Lewes, DE 19958, or visit their website at www.overfalls.org

Raspberry vegetation to change

Wisconsin’s Apostle Island’s National Lakeshore wants to refurbish the grounds around the Raspberry Island Lighthouse to bring it back to the way it originally looked. Other plans call for rebuilding a fence around the lighthouse and replicating birdbaths and birdhouses that were once there.

Keeper’s wife dies at remote lighthouse

The 29-year old wife of a lighthouse keeper died at a remote lighthouse in Croatia where there are still a number of staffed lighthouses. Her body was found at the bottom of a cliff. Although there were high winds at the lighthouse at the time, it is not known why or how she went over the cliff. Many of Croatia’s lighthouses have been renovated and opened for overnight stays as tourist attractions.

Door County Lighthouse Walk

We want to remind our readers about next month’s annual Door County (Wisconsin) Lighthouse Walk that takes place May 20 to 22. If you have never attended the event, this might be the year you should plan to join 3,000 other lighthouse aficionados for a weekend of music, open lighthouses, tours, great food, and a chance to meet lighthouse people from all over the world. You’ll probably leave with many new friendships while having a great time visiting the lighthouses. For more information and advance tickets, visit their web site at www.dcmm.org or call them at 920-743-5958

Lighthouse Kids

New Hampshire’s Lighthouse kids continue to get lots of publicity in their efforts to raise money to save the state’s endangered Isles of Shoals Lighthouse. Their newest effort is four-foot fiberglass lobsters that will adorn the streets of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, this summer. The program is similar to Lighthouses on Parade held two years ago in Portland, Maine; only this time it will be 30 to 50 lobsters, instead of lighthouses. The lobsters will stand upright and will be painted by local artists this spring, then displayed at various businesses and then auctioned off in the fall. Most of the money raised through sponsorships and the auction will go toward saving the lighthouse. In addition to the four-foot lobsters, 30 sixteen-inch tabletop lobsters will be donated to local schools to be painted by students to help generate further awareness of the fund-raising efforts. To learn more about the Lighthouse Kids, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, go to www.LighthouseFoundation and click on Lighthouse Kids.

Japan takes over lighthouse in dispute with China

The government of Japan has seized a privately built lighthouse in the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and will staff the lighthouse with Japanese Coast Guard personnel. However, China claims the islands and lighthouse belong to China. Instead of trying to talk to resolve the disputed islands both countries seem to be using strong words and now force to make their point. The ownership of the islands has been in dispute since the 1970s, but this is the first time one of the countries has made such a bold move.

German lights to go out?

The increased used of GPS has led to the closure of lighthouses along the German coast, which includes shutting off the lights. The fate of Germany’s 37 remaining lighthouses is supposed to be decided by May 2006. Germany’s lighthouses all have landmark status so they can’t be torn down, but they can be abandoned and turned off according to remarks by some public officials who also say that by doing so the government will save bundles of money. However, many people, including some ship captains, are against extinguishing the lighthouses, saying that GPS is not always foolproof. They also cite President Bush’s statement that the U. S. government will scramble GPS during times of "extraordinary threats to United States national security."

Lands’ End and big corporations

I noticed a while back that Lands’ End, the mail order catalog, was offering a lighthouse gift card. The gift cards can be ordered on their web site at www.landsend.com by typing in "gift card" in their search box. The Lands’ End gift card can be used to make a purchase through their catalog or at any Sears store. If you buy a Lands’ End Lighthouse gift card tell them you heard about it from Lighthouse Digest magazine.

On the other hand, you might also tell them to revisit their financial support for the American Lighthouse Foundation. They gave a grant of $25,000 a few years ago to help with the restoration of Little River Lighthouse, but have declined to contribute more to help complete the restoration of the lighthouse or help with any of the American Lighthouse Foundation’s other lighthouses or the Museum of Lighthouse History. Yet, they sure know how to use a lighthouse to promote their products. In all fairness, I have heard that the have contributed to other lighthouses or events.

One of the problems with some big corporations is that they find it easy to give out a number of small grants, but decline to make a large enough donation to complete the project nor do they continue to help so the project can be completed. This in turn causes the restoration to be more expensive than it would have originally been. Also, many big corporations, when making a donation to a worthy cause such as lighthouse preservation, don’t bother to encourage other big corporations to help out a cause that they apparently felt was a worthy cause in the first place. By the way, did you know that Sears owns Lands’ End?

Our brick

It was some time ago that we purchased a brick at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomon’s, Maryland and we’ve never made it back to see our brick in place. Our thanks go out to Paula and Lauren Liebrecht who sent us a photograph of the Lighthouse Digest "brick" now in place at the museum.

Big plans for NJ USCG station

Local officials have big plans for the old Coast Guard station in Manasquan, New Jersey. The town acquired the building in 2000 for one dollar but has done very little to the building except to let it deteriorate. A $250,000 bond has been issued to start clean up. One of the most expensive phases will be the removal of asbestos.

Big papers picked it up

Although the American Lighthouse Foundation sent out a press release to many newspapers about the recent passing of Connie Small, "The First Lady of Light," many newspapers in her home state of Maine did not report her passing, and only one TV station gave it coverage. However, when the Sunday New York Times published a major story reporting on her death and amazing life, suddenly reporters from all over the country started calling us, and, almost immediately, her life story seemed to appear everywhere. Apparently this proves the power of the large print media.

Saddleback keepers

There are two names that stand out in history of Maine’s Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse. They are W.W. Wells and Alamander Alley. These men served at this lonely rock outpost surrounded by water for around 20 years each from the 1920’s to as late as 1947. Yet, to this day, we are still looking for photographs and stories of them as well as the other keepers who served at Saddleback Ledge Light. It was Keeper Wells who recounted the story of being bombarded by ducks that literally broke the glass and knocked the light out of commission. If anyone can help us locate photos of the keepers, please e-mail editor@LighthouseDigest.com or call us at 207-646-7000.

Trinity House exhibits moving

It was announced that the Trinity House exhibits at the National Lighthouse Museum in Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom is being moved to a new location. Trinity House announced that it is removing the collection, which includes photographs, and lighthouse keeper uniforms from the Lighthouse Centre to a location that is more accessible to the public. Trinity House wanted a location where more people could visit and see the artifacts and the museum could not draw the projected visitors at the current location.

Boon Island bell mystery solved

Jeremy D’Entremont has solved the mystery of what happened to Maine’s Boon Island fog bell. It seems that approximately 20 years ago a man in the Hingham, Massachusetts’ Public Works Dept. contacted the Coast Guard for an old bell for the South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham. Since the church didn’t have a big enough belfry for the bell it was stored in a basement for a number of years. About 15 years ago the church built a bigger steeple and installed the bell. Perhaps one of our readers can send us a photograph of the church and even the bell. We’d like to know what year is inscribed on the bell and the manufacturer.

Film documents rescue

A new film, "The Voice of Gladdened Hearts" chronicling the incredible lives of the heroic men of the all black Pea Island Life Saving Station in North Carolina during the 1800’s, was recently previewed at ceremonies at the the National Museum of Patriotism. The film was narrated by James Earl Jones and written and directed by Bill Travis, who first learned of the story while serving in the United States Coast Guard. However, press releases did not indicate where the film would be shown again. Hopefully it will turn up on one of the cable networks.

New group for Conimicut

The city of Warwick, Rhode Island has established a group that will be responsible for restoring, operating and publicizing the Conimicut Lighthouse. The city envisions that the lighthouse will become a tourist attraction as well as an educational resource for school groups. Amazingly, it wasn’t until 1960 that the lighthouse was converted from kerosene to electricity.

Announcement from the History Channel

LIGHTHOUSE seeks warm, loving home. We'll build you one--free!

Do you have a friend or spouse who's obsessed with lighthouses? The HISTORY CHANNEL is launching a historical building series, and our professional builder will create, on your property (preferably on the Great Lakes), an historically accurate and beautiful lighthouse!


And you or the recipient must own the land the lighthouse will live on. A second home, or a home the lucky recipient is away from for long periods of time, is ideal. You are a great candidate if you've got ocean, lake, or river front property. This will be a historically accurate replication, and we want the appropriate picturesque location.

All phases of the building will be filmed, so plan on a film crew and busy builders swarming the property for several days. The video crew will also capture the presentation to the stunned recipient. This is for outgoing friends or couples with a sense of adventure and fun.

This is not a gift for just anyone; the recipient should be someone who truly loves and appreciates the beauty and history of lighthouses. If you know that person and want to surprise them please email us and tell us a little about yourself, the giftee and the proposed property. Email the producers at: pickabuild@yahoo.com

Admiral Bauman dies

RADM Richard A. Bauman, USCG Ret., passed away at his home in Annandale, Virginia. Admiral Bauman began his career in the Merchant Marines in 1943 and served on the Liberty Ship Stephen C. Foster, which offloaded bombs on Omaha Beach at Normandy from shortly after D-Day in June 1944 until that September. He joined the Coast Guard in 1957 and worked his way up through the ranks. He served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict. Later he served as Commander of the First Coast Guard District in Boston. He was a noted lighthouse expert who actually climbed the towers of 680 United States lighthouses. Every time he climbed a lighthouse, he left his name label in the tower to prove that he had been there. His wife, Dorothy, who passed away in 1998, was also a lighthouse aficionado, and she collected just about everything and anything with a lighthouse one it. She traveled with him to many of the lighthouses he climbed.

In 1994, Admiral Bauman participated in the relighting of the United States operated Navassa Island Lighthouse off the coast of Haiti. When he and his wife were still traveling extensively, they always stopped into visit us when they were in Maine.

New group for St. George Lighthouse

The Cape St. George Lighthouse Society, which was formed in an attempt to save the endangered Cape St. George on Little St. George Island, Florida, no longer exists. A new group named St. George Lighthouse Association, Inc. has replaced it. The original group raised funds to straighten the light, a project that was completed in 1999. The tower no longer leans as it once did. However, due to beach erosion, the lighthouse is now surrounded by water and is again endangered. The new group was incorporated at the end of 2004 to resume the battle to save the lighthouse. It seems the current consensus is that the lighthouse will need to be moved if it is to be saved. You can contact the new group or make a donation to St. George Lighthouse Association, Inc., 210 Bradford St., St. George Island, FL 32328. You can also e-mail the group’s secretary Terry Kemp at fullmoon@gtcom.net

A Michigan community declares itself a maritime capital

Port Huron, Michigan, claims it’s now official and they have the right to declare themselves, the "Maritime Capital of the Great Lakes," now that a three-year effort to get the phrase approved by the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office is now over. However, Thom Holden, director of the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center in Duluth, Minnesota, said, "Anyone in the maritime industry who hears that would think it was a joke. Port Huron is a beautiful place for watching boats, . . . but I’d like to see the facts behind their claims."

I’ll bet that sentiment is being voiced by other Great Lakes communities like, perhaps, Grand Haven, Michigan, but then again they already have the slogan "Coast Guard City USA." But, I wonder if they ever had it registered with the Patent and Trademark Office?

Port Huron officials, who won the right to their claim, pointed out that the city is home to the Port Huron Lightship, Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock, Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, tall ship Highlander Sea, and the Grey Fox, a retired Navy torpedo boat.

Port Huron may be a maritime capital, but it’s not for the birds

A proposed ordinance in Port Huron, Michigan, would make it illegal to feed waterfowl along their migratory journey when they stop in Port Huron. City officials claim that they want it to be illegal to feed all types of birds, including ducks, geese, and gulls. Violation of the ordinance would be punishable by a fine up to $500 and/or 90 days in jail. Personally, I think they are nuts. What’s next, outlawing birdseed and bird feeders? Can you image a lighthouse without seagulls? How about the unsuspecting tourist who visits the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and tosses popcorn to a gull and gets arrested for doing so?!!! Personally, as I tour the coastline I usually have a bag of popcorn in the car and take a few minutes while visiting a lighthouse to toss something to the seagulls. It’s fun, especially when you see them catch it in mid-air. People have been feeding the ducks, geese, and gulls since this country began, but it seems to have suddenly become an environmental hazard that can spread disease. My, how times do change!!!!

Lighthouse Water Tower

The city of Kemah, Texas will soon be getting a new water tower that will look like a lighthouse. The lighthouse water tower will also have an emergency response center at the base of the tower and could also act as a refuge for first responders and operate as a command center in emergency situations. We hope that our Texas readers will send us photos of the tower as it is being built and when it is completed.

Jacobsville Lighthouse sold

Michigan’s Jacobsville Lighthouse, which was up for sale, now has new owners. The lighthouse, originally built as the Portage River Lighthouse at the entrance to the Portage River on Lake Superior in Jacobsville, Michigan, will now be a Bed & Breakfast. For more information you can visit their web site at www.jacobsvillelighthouse.com or e-mail mditty23@sherbtel.net. Hopefully they’ll advertise in a future issue.

Kidston to get new owner

Nova Scotia’s Kidston Lighthouse in Baddeck may soon get a new owner. The Canadian Coast Guard no longer wants to maintain the tower. It is first being offered to the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. If they decline, the community of Baddeck hopes to obtain ownership. The lighthouse dates back to 1875.

Hunting Island open again

After being closed for nearly two years for repairs and renovations the Hunting Island Lighthouse on Hunting Island in Beaufort, South Carolina is again open to the public. For more information call 843-838-2011.

Money may aid New Point Comfort

New Point Comfort Lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay at Bavon, Virginia, is threatened by erosion and the problem is getting worse as money to study the project has been slow in coming. However, a federal appropriation of $50,000 to the Army Corp of Engineers to conduct a study of how to stop the erosion of the Mathews County Island, where the lighthouse sits, may help. Although this money may lead the way to additional funds, it may be too late to save the lighthouse. Time will tell.

Coast Guard Foundation gets new chairman

Ross E. Roeder, chairman of Smart & Final, a chain of 231 warehouse stores on the west coast, has been elected chairman of the Coast Guard Foundation. Last year the foundation raised $4 million to support Coast Guard programs, and it hopes to double its fund-raising over the next three to five years. Roeder said that several years ago he looked around for a charity that he could make a difference in which led him to get more involved. And the more he got involved, the more he liked it.

Proposal will move lighthouse to shore

A proposal to move Alabama’s Middle Bay Lighthouse to the mainland as part of a park to be built by the Alabama State Port Authority, seems to be gaining momentum. The Alabama Lighthouse Preservation Society supports the move.

This story appeared in the April 2005 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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