Digest>Archives> December 2005

Keeper’s Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


SOS Channel Lights

I recently received a newspaper clipping from the Macomb Daily News of Mt. Clemens, Michigan which told of renovations that are now underway at the St. Clair Flats South Channel Rear Range Light in Michigan. You may recall that we previously reported that the Front Range Light was stabilized. Recently, a crane removed the old lantern room at the Rear Range Light so renovations could begin. Now, if only someone would send us some photos and an update on what’s going on, it would be appreciated. We don’t have reporters covering the country. We depend on the individual lighthouse groups to keep us posted. If they don’t, we can’t tell their story.

Top Ten But Far from Number 1 This Year

Prior to this year’s 10th Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival held in Alpena, Michigan this past Columbus Day weekend, the nonprofit photography resource TakeGreatPictures.com rated the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival as one of the top ten events and destinations in the United States for the autumn months. Their glowing endorsement did not help this year’s festival, which suffered a dramatic drop in attendance. This is largely because of the apathy of many of the individual lighthouse groups on the Great Lakes who did absolutely nothing to help promote it, let alone show up. Since money raised from the festival goes into a sharing program to help other lighthouses, this is a real shame. Only when the lighthouse groups learn to work together as a team, can the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival return to its glory years.

Congratulations to Hib Casselberry

Hib Casselberry, one of the driving forces behind the lighthouse preservation movement in Florida, has stepped down after serving for the past four years as the president of the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society. As the reins were turned over to the group’s new president, Carmen McGarry, Hib was honored with the Coast Guard’s Certificate of Merit for his work with the Hillsboro Lighthouse. Not only is Hib a great guy, he has diligently strived over the years to teach lighthouse history and preservation. This award is well deserved by him.

eBay Puts Us Out of the Market

This past week on the eBay auction site, we came across a Bible from the United States Lighthouse Service. We immediately realized this would be a great addition to the Museum of Lighthouse History in Wells. However, as is common with items like this, a private collector, who will most likely keep this as a prized addition in a private collection that will never be viewed by the general public, outbid us. This is just another reason that donations are needed from the general public to help the American Lighthouse Foundation secure items like this for display in a museum to be enjoyed by the public and saved as a vital artifact of lighthouse history. The real shame is that most people who discover items like this will not donate them to the museum. Instead, the need for money and often simply greed steps in and these prized possessions are auctioned to the highest bidder.

Coast Guard Stretched Out

The United States Coast Guard, stretched out by recent natural disasters, may itself need rescue. For years, the United States Congress has under-budgeted the Coast Guard and the organization has somehow or another always been able to do more with less. But that must change. The Coast Guard has proven itself with the recent natural disasters, but its aging fleet of ships, equipment and planes are in no shape to keep up with its current and future demands. We must all write to our federal legislators in Washington and demand that more funding be given to the Coast Guard and less to special interest pork projects. It’s time for America to wake up.

Overfalls Lightship Gets Federal Money

The Overfalls Lightship has been awarded a federal grant under the Save America’s Treasures program. The grant of $275,000 will be used for the upkeep of the historic vessel, which is one of only a handful of lightships left. Lightships were built as floating lighthouses and stationed where it was impossible or too dangerous to build a lighthouse. Unfortunately, many actual lighthouses do not qualify for grants under the program because they are not considered historically significant.

Jupiter Went Dark

Florida’s Jupiter Lighthouse recently went dark for a number of weeks while it underwent repairs caused by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is paying for the $88,000 repair bill. Amazing!

Pointe aux Barques

Nearly 50 people turned out for a recent workday at this Michigan lighthouse to paint, build a handicap ramp and get the gardens ready for winter and spring. Many of the volunteers for the workday were from Comcast of Bad Axe, Michigan who participated as part of the Comcast Cares program sponsored by the company.

New Life for Life-Saving Station

Michigan’s old Tawas Point Life Saving Station is getting a new lease on life. Thanks to the developer who is building condominiums on the site. Rather than demolish the old structure, the developer, Larry LaPointe, who has already moved the building, plans to rebuild the station to its original look and use it as a cottage for himself. The Tawas Point Life Saving Station is about a mile from the site of the Tawas Point Lighthouse.

Fort Gratiot Gets New Owners

Michigan’s Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is being transferred from federal ownership under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act to the town of Port Huron, Michigan. Town officials state that they will start a $1 million restoration project next year.

Perch Rock Restored

The restoration of Perch Rock Lighthouse in Wallsey, in the Mersey estuary near Liverpool, England has now been completed. Thanks in part to the effort of Norman Kingham, its 83-year-old owner. Kingham purchased the lighthouse in 1973 for $176,000 and since then, has spent $265,000 on it. The final phase of $44,000 was paid for by an English Heritage grant. The lighthouse is open to the public at low tide only. There is only one door and visitors must climb the long ladder straight up 30 feet to access the tower.

California Beacon Painted

Money from the general fund of the lighthouse was recently used to paint California’s Point Cabrillo Lighthouse and an adjoining blacksmith shop oil house. The Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association did the work.

Wanted - All Hands Magazine

We are still looking for an original July 1956 edition of the U.S. Navy magazine All Hands. If you have one to donate, please send to Editor, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630.

This story appeared in the December 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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