Digest>Archives> March 2006

Mail Boat


Lighthouse Solace

Dear Editor,

In November of 2003, our only daughter died of breast cancer at age 45. She wanted to be cremated. Her husband got the largest share of her ashes and he took them to St. Thomas, at her request. We wanted our share of the ashes to be placed in the water, somewhere. But we have no attractive bodies of water near here. However, we remembered the beautiful lake at Hodges Gardens, just across the state line in Louisiana, the only privately owned gardens in the United States. We had visited there many times and it is a place you can spend all day visiting and enjoying. We decided that this was the best readily available body of water within near access.

When we got to the gardens, we began driving around the lake, as we usually do, since this is our favorite place in the gardens and our daughter had visited there with us. When we rounded the curve, we saw a miniature “fake” lighthouse and knew this was the perfect place to put her ashes.

We had never seen the lighthouse before and it was not within reach. However, we knew the shoreline would suit very well and we slowly placed her ashes in the water.

I began thinking about what lighthouses represent and even though this wasn’t a “for real” lighthouse, I knew it represented what a genuine one does. I knew she was watched over, taken care of, protected and that we could be rest assured that she was in good hands.

Since then, I started collecting lighthouses from Harbour Lights and have become fascinated with the history and meaning and sacrifice of those who are guardians of lighthouses.

I usually read Lighthouse Digest from cover to cover in one or two days and

I wish I had liked history when I was in school like

I do now. The lighthouses seem to take on the

very characteristics of

their keepers and even seem to be alive.

Now at 85, I have found a new topic to keep my mind active. It’s also given my family a new interest as suggestions for gifts. There seems to be no end to the available items to purchase. Thank you for your delightful magazine and I am grateful

to those who are the “keepers of the lights” — past and present. They will keep our daughter well guarded and protected for longer than we live.

Mrs. Priscilla Lytch,

Nacagdoches, Texas

Keene Memories

Dear Mr. Harrison,

I enjoyed the story about the Keene family written by Julie Keene in the January/February issue of Lighthouse Digest. It brought back many memories. When my husband, Clif, retired from the Coast Guard, we moved to Lubec when he started his job at the Navy Base in Cutler, Maine. We lived there for 31 years.

While in the Coast Guard, Clif became acquainted with Thomas Keene, and during the early part of our life in Lubec, we became friends with Tom’s wife, Vida, and our son lived in the little house next to theirs.

I remember that when we were stationed at Popham Beach Coast Guard Station and Lighthouse, Clif and I borrowed a tent from someone and went on a camping trip Downeast where I had never been before. After a night in Bar Harbor, we continued on to Lubec and the Coast Guard Station where we were permitted to set up our tent on the shore next to the boathouse. I didn’t like sleeping on the ground and Tom Keene, who was stationed there, went to his house a short distance from the station and got a cot with a mattress and set it up for us. We enjoyed our time at the West Quoddy Head Coast Guard Station even though it was foggy and the horn at the lighthouse blew all night, a sound that I loved.

We used to receive the Coast Guard magazine and there were stories written

by Tom that I have in my scrapbook, including Hiawatha that you published, and the other one is a very comical story of life on a lightship. He was very well known for his good humor.


Shirley Morong

Editor’s Note:

Over the years, Shirley Morong has supplied us with a wealth of information and we thank her for all she has done in helping us to preserve this history that might otherwise be lost in the dusty pages of time.

Correction to Keeper’s Korner Statement

Dear Tim,

I was browsing through the December issue of Lighthouse Digest and want to clarify a statement made in the Keeper’s Korner article on the Overfalls Lightship and the Save America’s Treasures federal grant money.

In the last sentence of that article, you stated that “many actual lighthouses do not qualify for grants under the program

because they are not considered historically significant.” The threshold for Save America’s Treasures federal grants is “nationally” significant, not “historically” significant, nationally being the highest of the three levels of significance for the National Register. Historic light stations that are considered nationally significant could compete for the grants.

For more information, you can visit

the federal grant Save America’s Treasures website at http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/treasures/

Hope this clarifies things. Of course, contact me if you have any questions.

Lisa McCann

Northeast Regional Office

Editor’s Comments:

Thanks for the clarification.

Story Starts Research

Dear Editor,

In reading the November 2005 Lighthouse Digest article on “The History of Washington’s Semiahmoo Lighthouse,” it motivated me to research the Seattle Museum of History and Industry’s collection. As a weekly volunteer there, I have passed by a 6-foot lens structure on numerous occasions. In checking the registrar’s files, I found that it had come from the Smith Island Lighthouse, originally known as Blunt’s Island. This is the second light installed at this location, but with erosion and time, the lighthouse was demolished in 1957.

The physical dimensions of each of the six (6) lens panels are 29” tall by 13” wide, of louvered glass with “bull's – eye” center, on a brass turntable and cylindrical stand of 24” diameter and an aluminum “ring” base where the overall height is 80”.

In addition to finding the above light,

I discovered a lens piece (see right side —floor, in my photograph), which was donated to the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society by Mr. Jim Gibbs. The original light was made by Louis Sautter & Co. in Paris in 1854 for the Tatoosh Lighthouse, more commonly known as the Cape Flattery Lighthouse. This concave lens panel was one of four, with a size of 28” wide by 39” tall. The fixture was replaced in the early 1900s and is still in the lighthouse as it stands today.

Hans Brower

Sammamish, WA

Geocachers Should

Seek Permission

Dear Tim,

I read with interest the short article on geocaching in the January-February 2006 issue of Lighthouse Digest. Geocaching has become very popular and it provides an additional incentive for people to visit lighthouses and other historic, natural and scenic attractions throughout the country, where geocaches may have been hidden. Using a GPS device to find specific coordinates within sight of a lighthouse may also add perspective for the searcher as to how navigational aids have been changed by technology. (How can that little hand-held device replace a lighthouse?!)

Many of the lighthouses that geocachers are attracted to may be National Historic Landmarks, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, wildlife sanctuaries or science and natural areas. As such, some areas of the lighthouse grounds may be sensitive or off-limits for the purpose of resource protection. Some areas are fenced or signed for the protection of visitors,

such as cliff edges, erosion zones or un-stable structures. Geocaching is great fun, an excellent way to try your hand at navigation and a new way to experience lighthouses.

When caches are made on a property,

I would strongly suggest talking to the property manager to get permission to make the cache and to agree on a location for the geocache that is challenging yet safely accessible. A few years ago, when geocaching was very new, the staff at Split Rock Lighthouse located a geocache in a remote area of the light station grounds not generally accessible to visitors. For resource protection and visitor safety, the geocache had to be removed from its location. This was unfortunate for those coming later who may have been looking for it but as a manager, I had to make the call to remove it. If I would have had a contact, I would have been happy to work with them to relocate the geocache to a more appropriate location, probably even closer to the lighthouse. Most lighthouse managers are anxious to make their lighthouses as accessible to as many visitors as possible and would be pleased to host a geocaching site. Just ask them.


Lee Radzyk

Historic Site Manager

Split Rock Lighthouse

3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd.

Two Harbors, MN 55616

P: (218) 226-6372, F: (218) 226-6373


A Thank You

Holley and I would like to thank you for all the wonderful materials you sent in response to her FLAT BOAT. Your letter was actually opened and shared with the class. We really appreciate the auto magnet. It was the first we’ve received. Also, you sent our first copies of the Lighthouse Digest, a very informative publication with wonderful stories . . . The Kids on the Beam book was perfect! It has hours of fun activities as well as information for the kids. Thank you also for the brochures. We really appreciate all that everyone has done to save and preserve the history and heritage of our nation’s lighthouses. We’re enclosing some pictures of our East Wharf Lighthouse. If you are ever in Oklahoma City, please visit our lighthouse. You’ll enjoy eating at one of the lakeside restaurants and you’re invited to our school to share lighthouse information with our class in person!

A. B.,

S.E.A.R.C.H. teacher

Editor’s Comments:

Look for a story in this month’s issue about the East Wharf Lighthouse, which was already scheduled for this edition before this letter arrived. Wow, talk about coincidence.

Comments On Lighthouse Groups Who Don’t Care

Dear Mr. Harrison,

You ask whether Lighthouse Digest should begin listing the names of groups and individuals in lighthouse preservation who don’t subscribe to the magazine and therefore appear uninterested in the larger lighthouse preservation movement.

Please don’t. I canceled my membership in a lighthouse group that will remain nameless partly for that very reason — aspersions were being cast on the work and aims of another lighthouse organization.

We have to recognize that people have limited reserves of time, energy and money. We should celebrate what they are doing for lighthouse preservation on whatever scale they do it, rather than castigate them for not doing more. They need good-natured reminders of the existence of the magazine as a source of publicity and support, not acerbic digs at their supposed tunnel vision. I understand your frustration with the slow growth of lighthouse preservation efforts, but don’t let that spiral into mean-spirited reproof of those who may be giving all they can to those efforts.

Thank you to Lighthouse Digest, for your informative and entertaining books and for your untiring championship of the cause of lighthouse preservation. (If those bums in the Currituck County government down in North Carolina had you as one of their constituents, they wouldn’t stand a chance!)

Name withheld by request

St. Louis, Missouri

Dear Mr. Harrison,

. . . As to your question on page 34 (of the last issue) concerning nonparticipatory lighthouse groups, I think it proves useful to those readers who wish to channel their funds accordingly to know who shares information and expertise versus those groups who wish to remain as isolated as the lighthouse they champion. While I choose to support one lighthouse group that champions all lighthouses, others might want to support only their particular pet lighthouse.

I rather look at it in the same way that some grants work — you apply for the grant, you receive the grant, but strings remain attached, such as a requirement

to publish your work in the appro-

priate journal. Yes, the grantees receive “free” money, but they must share their results with others. These nonparticipatory groups rather behave like the badly

mannered manager at work that hoards information to hold power over others, except that it proves foolish in this instance, as no power remains to gain.

I wonder just how involved or active the people that neither thanked you nor renewed their complimentary subscriptions really remain in their respective lighthouse groups. They may only serve on the boards for the “prestige” rather like when Kraft Foods added Billie Jean King, the tennis player, to their board, or when Caterpillar added Edward Barry Rust, Jr., the man who inherited State Farm Insurance from his father, to their board. Maybe, they brought something to the boards besides their handout for another paycheck, but I fail to see a strong connection between tennis and food or earthmovers and insurance.

The folks that you never heard from might just prove much of the same ilk — just adding another token laurel leaf to their crown of glories, whether truly earned or not. . .

Thank you for your refreshingly “this is my honest feelings and opinions” magazine!


Jude Drayton

Mahomet, Illinois

Editor’s Comments:

We received a lot of response to my editorial comment and for the most part,

it was overwhelmingly favorable. My editorial comment was meant to push a few buttons. Once in a while, we need to remind people, whether they like it or not, or agree or not, that we are all in this together, but in no way, was it meant to offend volunteers of any group who are working so hard to save a lighthouse. However, the facts are obvious. The more subscribers we get and the more information that is shared by everyone through the pages of this magazine, the easier it will be to draw public attention for everyone in helping and trying to save lighthouses and their history. Lighthouse preservation cannot be a ME effort, but must be a WE effort.

My editorial comment ended with a question meant to invoke provocative thought and discussion within the lighthouse community and that’s exactly what it accomplished.

This story appeared in the March 2006 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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