Digest>Archives> March 2006

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Sand Point Light Falls Under Tribal Rules

The historic 1878 Sand Point Lighthouse in Baraga, Michigan will now be protected by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office. In 1898, the Lake Superior Lighthouse was moved 200 feet inland.

First Lady of Boston Light Dies

Martha Josephine Norwood passed away the age of 101 in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. She and her husband Ralph spent many years living at New England lighthouses. This included time at Spring Point Ledge and Ram Island Lights in Maine, Great Point Light in Nantucket and 17 years at Boston Light in Boston Harbor, MA. Her life was recounted in the 1986 book, First Light written by her grandson Willie Emerson. Lighthouse Digest did a story about her in the September 2003 issue.

Minot’s Ledge Logbooks

Joe Lebherz, who is doing some research on Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse in Massachusetts, is looking for the logbook kept by Isaac Dunham when he was an assistant keeper at the lighthouse. New England historian Edward Rowe Snow mentioned in his book about Minot’s Ledge Light, that the logbook was in the possession of a Mrs. R. A. Elliott of Avon, Massachusetts. That was in the 1940s. If anyone can provide Joe with information on the whereabouts of the logbook, please write to Joe Lebherz, 178 Waldoboro Road, Friendship, Maine 04547.

Suspects Arrested

Russian officials have stated that the three suspects accused of an attack that killed Russian Coast Guard General Vitalii Gamov and badly injured his wife three years ago have been arrested. Russian law enforcement officials stated that the General was killed in revenge for his efforts to fight poachers.

New Book on Two Harbors Lighthouse

Dale Congdon has completed three years of research for his book about the Two Harbors Lighthouse in Minnesota. The book,

The Light on Agate Bay, is available for $12.95 plus $3.00 shipping from

the Lake County Historical Society, P.O. Box 128, Two Harbors, MN 55616. If you live in Minnesota, you will need to add 7% sales tax.

People of the Year

In an evening broadcast of ABC TV’s World News Tonight with Bob Woodward, the United States Coast Guard was named 2005’s People of the Year. They were given the honor primarily because of their heroic rescue efforts during the recent natural disasters. We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to the United States Coast Guard.

Cape Henry Declared Excess?

The new Cape Lighthouse in Virginia was declared excess property under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. However, shortly after it was declared excess, the government withdrew the lighthouse from the process. We wonder why.

Galloo Island Sold

Galloo Island Lighthouse on the Great Lakes has been sold on the eBay auction site for $205,000. The lighthouse, located 12 miles off the coast in Lake Ontario was originally sold at auction in September of 2000. Apparently, the owners realized that the large amount of money that would be needed to restore the lighthouse was a project larger than they wanted to tackle. In recent years, the lighthouse station has fallen into a state of extreme disrepair. It was put up for sale for $295,000 and with no takers, the owners put it up for auction on eBay. As of now, we do not know yet who the new owners are.

Cleveland East Pierhead Light Returned

A number of Lighthouse Digest subscribers have reported that the Cleveland East Pierhead Lighthouse has been reinstalled on the breakwater in Cleveland, OH.

More Problems in Russia

Recent new wire releases indicate numerous problems between Russia and Ukraine over lighthouses. Apparently, unknown forces have occupied two lighthouses, one in Crimea and the other in Yalta. The Russian Navy claims they ousted forces from a lighthouse in the Crimea, while another lighthouse is still occupied by Ukrainian supporters. Ukraine claims however, that all lighthouses on the Crimean coast are the property of Ukraine. The Russians, on the other hand, claim they are Russian’s under a 1997 treaty signed by both countries. The Russians claim part of the problem is turmoil within Ukraine with different Ukrainian government agencies issuing different and conflicting statements. There is probably more to this story that we will ever be able to find out about or report on.

Currituck Lighthouse Problems May Never Go Away

A recent ruling by Judge Terrence Boyle of the U. S. District Court stated that Currituck County, which lost its bid to the nonprofit Outer Banks Conservationists for ownership of North Carolina’s Currituck Lighthouse, would need to drop their lawsuit against the nonprofit,

or include the federal government as a plaintiff. Lighthouse

preservationists immediately claimed this as an important win that would protect other nonprofits by discouraging greedy local government officials from trying to own a lighthouse by circumventing the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act and making a mockery of the intent of the Congress of the United States. The Currituck County Commissioners have been harassing and doing everything in their power, using unlimited taxpayer funds, in an attempt to take control of the lighthouse that was restored and has been cared for by a legitimate nonprofit. However , the joy of winning yet another battle in the long fight for the proper care and future of the lighthouse may be short lived. In a surprise move, the County Commissioners now say that they intend to sue the federal government. This ongoing dispute is the worst case of abuse of political power by elected officials in the history of lighthouses in the United States. The fact that it continues is a disgrace to everything that America stands for and was founded on. Why these County Commissioners are able to hold on to their office can only be attributed to the “Good Ol’ Boy” network that dates back to the early history of the southern states.

Cape Arago Goes Dark

Chief Dale Dempsey of the Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation Office in Charleston, Oregon, recently announced that Oregon’s Cape Arago light has been turned off for good. The lighthouse, located at Charleston at the southwest entrance to Coos Bay, although not open to the public, can be reached via a footpath. The fourth order lens in the lighthouse was removed a number of years ago and replaced with a modern optic. Dempsey said the Coast Guard placed a 30-day notice to mariners stating the lighthouse would be turned off if it is no longer needed by mariners. Since he received no responses, he turned the light off. Hopefully, Chief Dempsey will realize the historical significance of keeping the lighthouse lighted and will change his mind and relight the historic beacon. The original 1866 fourth order Fresnel lens from the lighthouse is on display at the U.S. Coast Guard North Bend Station.

Utility Company Comes Up With Cash

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is going to spend $1.5 million to improve the access to the California’s historic San Luis Obispo Lighthouse, which is located at Avila Beach, California. The lighthouse is surrounded by property of the Diabol Nuclear Power Plant that is owned by the company. The lighthouse however, is owned by Port San Luis Harbor District and managed by the Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers. Currently, only about 2,000 people a year are allowed to hike the guided tour along the 3.7-mile hike to the lighthouse. The bulk of the money will be used to improve the access road to allow for shuttle-van access. Previous concerns had centered on security for the nuclear power plant. The 1890 lighthouse was deactivated in 1975 and is being restored by the said lighthouse group.

Victory Chimes For Sale

If you’ve ever traveled to Rockland, Maine to visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum or the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, you might have seen the 105-year-old and 132-foot-long schooner Victory Chimes. In fact, you might have even sailed on her as many tourists have done. The vessel is now up for sale for $1.5 million. The vessel was designated at as National Historic Landmark in 1997 and is the last of the Chesapeake ram schooners. An image of the vessel appears on the Maine State Quarter along with an image of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. It is hoped that a new owner would keep the vessel in Rockland but there are no guarantees.

Founder of Concord Point Group Dies

It was 30 years ago that Anna M. Long, along with some other concerned citizens, opened the doors to the once off-limits Concord Point Lighthouse and started a preservation movement to save the historic lighthouse in Havre de Grace, Maryland. The lighthouse was the beginning of years of civic work to the community where she even planted trees on the main street of the community herself. In the late 1970s, she became the first president of the Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse, a group that still maintains and cares for the lighthouse today. President Clinton chose Concord Point Lighthouse in 1995 as the backdrop of his Earth Day speech to the nation. She served on the City Council and even ran for mayor. Anna proved that people can make a difference, if they simply get involved. She will be missed by many who knew her and her efforts will be remembered forever.

Burmeister Info Wanted

Rosa McVey is looking for any information on her grandfather, Frederick William Burmeister, who was a lighthouse keeper of the Craighill Cutoff Channel Upper Range Front Light, prior to when it was called North Point Light, off Fort Howard, Maryland. If you can help her, please email her at vinca820@hotmail.com.

Radio Chats From Lights

Patty and Jim Martin, Amateur Ham Radio Operators from Richardson, Texas, took a week off to communicate with the world from a number of different maritime locations as part of a week’s activities that were part of a special event sponsored by the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society. The couple did broadcasts from the Texas Maritime Museum and the Aransas Pass Lighthouse before ending up on New Year’s Eve at Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse in Port Lavaca, Texas. By the time they were done, the couple had made contact with 1,500 people in 48 states.

Board Endorses Restoration

The Cape Mendocino (California) Historic Review Board has issued a letter of support and endorsement for the Point Cabrillo Light Keepers Association for the restoration of one final building at the historic site — the restoration of the gardens and a fence. Their letter of support said that the work would not only benefit the local community but everyone from everywhere that would visit the historic lighthouse site. They are to be commended for realizing the larger picture.

Sakonnet Light Gets Help

The Friends of Rhode Island’s Sakonnet Lighthouse will be finally getting the help they have worked so hard for. The group recently was approved for $844,323 grant from the federal Transportation Enhancement money as part of that state’s share of the federal improvement program. It was back in 1997 that the group raised $100,000 and got the ailing beacon relit and have been maintaining the ailing structure ever since. If the current grant is approved in the final budget, it will still be at least a year before any restoration work can start.

Oops! Our Goof

In the January issue, in referring to Michigan’s Round Island Lighthouse, I mistakenly stated that the Hiawatha National Forest, which manages the lighthouse, is part of the Department of the Interior. This is incorrect. The Hiawatha National Forest, part of the U.S. Forest Service, is under the United States Department of Agriculture. We apologize for the error.

The Irish Hills Towers

Although most of the mail we received was positive about the story in the January-February issue about the Irish Hills Towers, we did receive a couple of emails from subscribers who were extremely unhappy that we published the story. One person said that although the story was well written, we must be having so much trouble finding lighthouse stories that we had to borrow a story from another magazine to print a non-lighthouse story and we should stick to lighthouses. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although, I’ll be the first to admit that the story had nothing to do about lighthouses, I was so impressed when I first read the story of this interesting part of history, and the fact that they were towers, kind of like a lighthouse, I felt our readers would be interested in this segment of history. Most were indeed interested and thanked us for the story. On the other hand,

we do have a backlog of great lighthouse stories and I promise in the future that we will do our best to stick to lighthouses and lighthouse related stories and issues.

Wind Point To Be Restored

Wind Point Lighthouse in Racine, Wisconsin will receive $140,000 worth of repainting and tuck-pointing this spring. The last time

any major work was done on the lighthouse was five years ago.

The community hopes to receive a Coastal Management Grant to help with some of the cost associated with the project.

Allen Named New USCG Commandant

Vice Admiral Thad W. Allen, USCG, who has been overseeing federal efforts in the Gulf Coast after the recent hurricanes has been named by President Bush to be the new Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. We congratulate him and send him our best wishes for the difficult tasks ahead of him.

Thiesen Moves On

Bill Thiesen has been appointed as the United States Coast Guard’s area historian for the Eastern United States, including the Caribbean and overseas stations. Thiesen is leaving his job as curator and assistant director of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to take on the new position. He will work out of the Coast Guard Command Center in Portsmouth, Virginia. We extend him our best wishes in this new position and offer to help in any way that we can.

Pact Signed for Canaveral

The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation has signed a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Air Force to help assure the future plans to recreate the lighthouse site for tours and educational outreach programs. The historic lighthouse is the only operational lighthouse on an Air Force base.


We are sorry to report on the passing of Alfred L. Beasley, 67, of Milton, Delaware. An Air Force veteran, Beasley was a volunteer involved with the revitalization of the Overfalls Lightship. Our condolences go out to his family.

International Lighthouse Conference

This is to remind everyone that there will be an International Lighthouse Conference to be held in Southampton, Ontario,

Canada this coming June 1-4. You can register online at www.chantryisland.com. There is a discount for early registration. FMI, see the advertisement in this issue of Lighthouse Digest or

you can call the conference planners directly for more info at

(866) 797-5852. As well as seeing their areas’ lighthouses, it should be a good learning experience and a chance to meet other lighthouse aficionados. So, if you can make the time or can afford to attend, my guess is that it will be well worth it.

Alabama Group Gets Artifact

The Alabama Lighthouse Association has been fortunate in obtaining a recent artifact donation from the Sand Island Lighthouse. The group received the cast iron floor plate to the lantern room that had been removed from the lighthouse many years ago. The iron floor plate originally had prisms in it that allowed the room below the lantern room to be illuminated to allow the keeper to monitor the light quality and tell when the wicks needed trimming.

Absecon Light Plays Host To Military General

New Jersey’s Absecon Lighthouse recently played host to Dr. Jonathan Perry, the father of Atlantic City and the driving force behind the building of the Absecon Lighthouse and General George Meade, of Civil War fame, who oversaw the construction of the lighthouse. No, they didn’t hold a séance to communicate with them. However, the costumed people representing these historic people of yesteryear told the stories of the shipwrecks of long ago in “Graveyard Inlet” and how the lighthouse was constructed. It was all part of the 149th birthday of the famous lighthouse, which included a lighthouse birthday cake and music by Maerlene Manning. As an extra bonus, the tower was open to climb and share its birthday with all who attended.

Lighthouse Facsimiles and Replicas Are Worthy In Their Own Right

From time to time, we receive letters from people who complain that we should not publish photos or stories of lighthouse facsimiles or replicas as they have no place in a magazine that is devoted to “real” lighthouses. Although these letters are few, the ones we do get are quite adamant. So, to set the record straight, we are also adamant and we will continue to publish photographs of lighthouse facsimiles and the stories behind some of them. Lighthouse facsimiles and replicas mean a lot to many people as is evident by the many photos we receive of lawn and decorative lighthouses, lighthouse mail boxes, birdfeeders made like lighthouses, lighthouse monuments and memorials, and even lighthouse churches. Decorative lighthouses of any kind not only help promote the interest in lighthouses and saving the history behind the “real” lighthouses. People everywhere love them, and many of them have a human interest story behind it, just as the “real” lighthouses do. Read the Mail Boat section of this issue and you’ll get a better idea of what I’m saying. Take a drive down the eastern shore of the state of Michigan.

I can’t remember how many I counted on one drive and even stopped to take photographs of some of the more interesting ones. Or visit Lake Havasu in Arizona and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll see. Lighthouse facsimiles mean a lot more than just a lawn decoration to many people. So, folks, keep those lighthouse facsimile photographs and stories coming in, we want to hear from you.

Vandals Topple Lighthouse

Sometime back in the late 1800s, a lighthouse was built on Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver, Indiana. One might first think that the lighthouse was built to aid the steamboat captains who traversed the lake to and from its many resort camps of the time. However, that assumption would be wrong. In those days, visitors would arrive to the area via the Vandalia Railroad and disembark at was then called Vandalia Park. The lighthouse would then be lit to alert the steamboat captains that the train had arrived so they could pick up the passengers and take them to their various destinations around the lake. However, the lighthouse was destroyed by what became known as the “Big Wind” that struck the area on July 8, 1913. With so much damage to be repaired and the end of the era of the steamboats, the lighthouse got lost in the pages of time.

However, in 2005, local residents banded together with the Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver and the Culver Park Board and raised the money to rebuild the lighthouse. While the new lighthouse would be used as a navigational aid of sorts, it was really intended to serve as a bit of nostalgia of another time and another era. All who saw the new lighthouse loved it and took pride in seeing a lighthouse again in this community where the historic downtown area is listed on the National Register.

However, in late January, the community went into shock to find out that vandals had destroyed the 10-foot tall structure. It appears that the vandals stole a parking sign and used it to chop away at the base of the tower and then apparently pushed and shoved it until it tore away from the bolts that were holding it in place and it smashed to ground.

Hopefully, these vandals will be caught and get more than a slap on the wrist.

Efforts To Save Last LST

A group of dedicated volunteers is desperately trying to save the U.S.S. Sphinx, one of the last surviving LST landing craft from World War II. The Land Ship Tank or LST was the backbone to every invasion of World War II and were used in Korea, Vietnam and the War on Drugs until they became obsolete and were sold for scrap. President Bush signed the U.S.S. Sphinx over to the group and they already have a place to display it as a memorial next to New York’s Dunkirk Lighthouse near Point Gratiot, New York. The problem is that the vessel is now at Little Creek Naval Base in Virginia and will have to be towed up the Atlantic Coast, down the St. Lawrence River and then into Lake Erie but the group has not received any federal funds and help as they thought they would. If you’d like to help, donations can be sent to U.S.S. Sphinx Memorial, P.O. Box 69, Dunkirk, NY 14048.

St. Simons Gets Federal Funds

Georgia’s St. Simons Island Lighthouse on St. Simons Island, Georgia will be getting $400,000 in federal funds to rehabilitate the historic lighthouse. The lighthouse will get its second coat of paint in less than five years and will have repairs of rust and leaks fixed. The total cost will be $500,000 and the Coastal Georgia Historical Society previously raised the additional $100,000 needed for the project.

Group Wants to Rebuild Cape St. George

A dedicated group of volunteers wants to rebuild Florida’s Cape St. George Lighthouse that recently collapsed as the result of erosion. Contact St. George Lighthouse Association, Dennis Barnell, 201 Bradford St., St. George Island, FL 32328 or email dbarnell@gtcom.net.

Nantucket Lightship For Sale

The historic Nantucket Lightship WLV612 is for sale. The 128-foot lightship was once owned by the Massachusetts District Commission and was restored by a volunteer Friends group. However, the Commission later decided to sell the vessel on eBay. It was bought on the auction site by Bill & Kristen Golden who spent several million dollars in completely overhauling the vessel. Parts of the interior of the vessel were donated to the American Lighthouse Foundation and are now in storage for a future display at the Museum of Lighthouse History in Wells, Maine. The renovated vessel is now more like a luxury yacht and the asking price is $7.6 million. The restored

ship now offers 4,000 square feet of living space, stretched across three floors with six bedrooms and five bathrooms. The ship is

being offered for sale, fully furnished, that even includes a poker table in the game room. The vessel is being offered by Paul Lester of

Coldwell Banker’s Boston waterfront office.

Old Point Loma Restored

California’s historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse is being restored. Thanks to the National Park Service. The lighthouse only had a short life span as lighthouse in 1800s. It was at one time owned by the War Department, now known as the Department of Defense. In 1933, it became one of the earliest lighthouses transferred to the National Park Service. At that time, the lighthouse was in an advanced state of deterioration and neglect. Over the years, the National Park Service has done work on the lighthouse with the last major work being done in 1982. The current restoration project is costing $119,000.

151st Birthday

Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, California has turned 151 years old. The lighthouse, managed by the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, is still owned by the Coast Guard and is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in California. It has the oldest Fresnel lens on the West Coast and also had the first female lighthouse keeper.

Passing at Nauset Light

Winifred Feightner, a much-loved member of the Board of Directors of the Nauset Lighthouse Preservation Society passed away at her home on Cape Cod, MA this past January. She will be missed by many.

Frequency of Publication

Since there seems to be some confusion with a few of our long-time subscribers about the frequency of publication, I thought I’d take a moment to set the record straight. In 2003, we published 12 issues. In 2004, with rising postage and printing cost, we decided to publish ten issues. However, to give the magazine a new look, during that time, we also changed the masthead, redesigned the magazine and added color throughout. After we were able to negotiate some lower publishing costs, we decided to publish 11 issues per year and in 2005, we published every month except February. However, during this time as a benefit to our subscribers, we also added additional pages to some issues. The only month we don’t publish is February.

A Well Deserved Thank You

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Bill and Nancy Younger, their daughter Kim Andrews and the rest of the Younger family for all they have done over the years for the lighthouse community. As you will read in this issue, the Youngers have retired and sold Harbour Lights to Lighthouse Depot. Although we know they will still make some limited personal appearances, it is important to remember now and thank them now for the legacy they’ve created and have left for future generations. They made a major difference in drawing attention to the lighthouse preservation movement with their quality replicas and support of lighthouse preservation groups around the nation. They made a difference and left a legacy that will be appreciated for many years

to come. I have been honored to have had the opportunity to know and work with them over the years. We send them best wishes in their semi-retirement and thank them for all they have done.

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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