Digest>Archives> September 2006

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Fees For Portland Head Light

A majority of the councilors of the Cape Elizabeth community have agreed that some type of fee needs to be charged to park at Fort Williams Park, site of Maine’s famous Portland Head Light. Those agreeing to the fee believe that a parking fee of some type, probably parking meters, will help decrease the tax burden on maintaining such a large historic site. However, another councilor felt the affluent community could afford to pay for the upkeep of the park.

Government Fee For Photos By Fire Island Lighthouse

The National Park Service, which controls the Fire Island National Seashore that owns the Fire Island Lighthouse, has now started charging a fee of $100 to $300 to have professional photos taken on the beach in front of the lighthouse for such occasions as engagements, weddings and other special events. The Fire Island park superintendent says the permit fee gives park officials more control over popular locations that can get crowded on busy days. Remember those words folks, "More Control!" What’s next, a fee just to look at the lighthouse?

Big Bay Condos Controversy

It seems that only the 55 other nearby land owners are concerned about the owners of the Big Bay Point Lighthouse selling off most of the land around the lighthouse for a condominium development. It seems the plans are already approved despite a petition against it. In fact, the private owners of the lighthouse are making appeals to the lighthouse community for funds and grants for a restoration project, while they are selling off the property for a nice profit at the highly successful lighthouse B&B. We can only hope that the grant requests don't take money away from other more deserving lighthouse restoration projects that aren't fortunate enough to have such high income producing property.

Have Maine Tourism Officials Lost Their Minds?

A quarter-page ad placement at the AAA’s magazine Horizons in the July issue on page 17, paid for by the Maine Office of Tourism, insulted the state’s lighthouse community. It said, "We do have lighthouses. But they’re really more for our boats. Then a drawing of a lighthouse SORRY. You can still look at them, but we’ve got other cool stuff that’s just for you."

We have to wonder what the heck they were thinking of in downplaying lighthouses as tourist attractions. These officials must be the first lighthouse state tourism office in the nation to tell people that the lighthouses are more for boats. No wonder it’s so hard to raise money for lighthouse preservation in Maine with the state’s own tourism officials taking this kind of an attitude.

St. Ignace Lighthouse Now Up And In Place

Crews have completed the installation of the new lighthouse at St. Ignace, Michigan, which will serve as a sentinel for the city’s marina. The city acquired the 52-foot facsimile from the State of Michigan’s Monroe Welcome Center to place it on the old Railroad Dock on the community’s waterfront. St. Ignace officials are to be congratulated for realizing the importance of lighthouses for tourism.

Pemaquid Point Needs Restoration

Maine’s famous Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, the only lighthouse to ever appear on American money is in need of urgent repairs. Since being built in 1835, the lighthouse has never had major restoration. However, age and the elements have taken their toll. The mortar holding the granite blocks together needs immediate attention. It seems the mortar is failing, causing water to seep into the structure leading to its rapid deterioration. Hired consultants have estimated the cost of the repairs to be $94,000. Donations can be sent to the American Lighthouse Foundation, P.O. Box 889, Wells, ME 04090.

Old Wallops Coast Guard Station To Be Demolished If New Owner Not Found

The 1883 Wallops Island Coast Guard Station near Virginia’s Assateague Lighthouse is up for grabs according to a U.S. Navy spokesperson. The station was discontinued in 1947 and was acquired by the Navy’s Wallops Flight Facility. The problem is that the Navy wants it moved and it will be given free to anyone that agrees to move the structure. If no one can be found they plan to demolish it. Although some organizations have expressed an interest in it, none have the money to move it. Interested parties can contact the Public Affairs Officer, Keith Koehler at 757 824-1579 or email him at a.Koehler@nasa.gov. Unfortunately, the Navy only gave a few weeks notice to the national media and by the time we go to press the station may have been demolished if a new owner has not been found.

Private Owners Saving Newport News

Bob Gonsoulin of Williamsburg, VA, who recently bought Virginia’s Newport News Middle Ground Lighthouse for $31,000 and since spent another $30,000 to upgrade the structure into a vacation home. Wow, if nonprofits could raise money that quick, all of America’s lighthouses would be saved, but then they would also be off limits to the general public.

Coast Guard Prepares For Hurricanes With Emergency Beacons

The Coast Guard is reportedly now stockpiling hundreds of emergency marine lights in anticipation of possible hurricanes. The 700 Series solar-powered LED marine navigations beacons, manufactured by Carmanah’s Solar LED Lighting Group are ideal for emergency situations because they are solar powered and fully self-contained. Reportedly, they can be installed anywhere in minutes, operate reliably without the need of external electrical works and are virtually indestructible. An example was given of one of these beacons having been installed on an offshore buoy that successfully weathered a category three hurricane.

Change Of Command At First Coast Guard District

Rear Admiral Timothy S. Sullivan, previously the Senior Military Advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security has assumed command from Rear Admiral David P. Pekoske as Commander of the First Coast Guard District, which is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Rear Admiral Pekoske, who is a great friend to the lighthouse preservation groups, has taken a new command as Assistant Commander for Response, overseeing all operations for the United States Coast Guard. We wish Admiral Pekoske the very best in his new position and thank him for all his help over the past two years and welcome Admiral Sullivan to his new position.

The First Coast Guard District encompasses eight states and thousands of miles of coastline from northern New Jersey to the up through Maine to the Canadian border.

Canadian Guard Gets Honorary Leader

Her Excellency, the Right Honorable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, has been invested as the new Honorary Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard. One Canadian newspaper described her as the "Coolest Governor General," to ever serve in Canada.

Maine City Wants USCG Designation

The City of Rockland, Maine is working hard in an attempt to have the community officially declared as a Coast Guard City. The city feels it has earned the designation since it is home to an active Coast Guard base, two lighthouses, the Maine Lighthouse Museum, home port of the Buoy Tender Abbie Burgess, other lighthouses close by, an active waterfront and many years of close ties with the United States Coast Guard. It would certainly be an honor to Ken Black, "Mr. Lighthouse," if the city can obtain the designation. Currently seven cities across America have the designation.

Fort Gratiot To Be Restored

Michigan’s Port Huron Museum has hired an architectural firm to conduct a $60,000 study that will map out a four-year restoration project as part of a $400,000 federal grant they received to restore the lighthouse. The transfer of ownership of the lighthouse from the Coast Guard has been approved and is expected to take place very soon.

Replica Of Lost Light Being Built

Another replica of one of America’s lost lighthouses is being built. This one is of Maryland’s Choptank River Lighthouse. The original Choptank River Lighthouse was built in 1870 and destroyed by ice in 1918. It was then replaced by the Cherrystone Bar Light, which was moved to the site. That structure lasted until 1964 when it was demolished. A nonprofit was formed to raise money for the lighthouse replica that will eventually be displayed at Long Wharf in Cambridge, Maryland.

I find it amazing that a number a replicas of lost lighthouses have been built around the nation with donated money, while many lighthouse preservation groups are struggling to raise money for real historic lighthouses, some of which are in imminent danger of being lost forever. Apparently it has now become politically correct for some people to donate to replicas rather than donating to save a real lighthouse. What do you think? I welcome your comments and they will be published.

Atlantic City Beacon Demolished

The faux lighthouse built in 1997 at the end of the Atlantic City Expressway in 1997 at the cost of $3 million has been brutally demolished and sold as scrap metal to make way for a series of 40 retail stores. The public officials in Atlantic City could have easily donated the lighthouse to be displayed elsewhere. In fact, the Museum of Lighthouse History in Wells, Maine, would loved to have it on display in front of the museum. Three million dollars wasted that could have been spent on lighthouse preservation. It’s too bad that "progress" seems to get in the way of what is right.

Lighthouse Hit In Mideast Conflict

The Manara Lighthouse in Beirut, Lebanon was hit in an air strike in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. The lighthouse, near the American University, was a relatively new one and the older one still stands nearby. The extent of the damage is unknown.

Canadian Light Destroyed

A recent newspaper report stated that the historic lighthouse in Callander, Ontario Canada was destroyed in a violent storm that ripped through the area this past July. Although the news account did not name the lighthouse we can only assume that it was the Southeast Bay Lighthouse. We would welcome photos of the lighthouse when it was standing as well as photographs of the ruins.

Seguin Lens Restoration

Long overdue maintenance of the first order Fresnel lens at Maine’s Seguin Island lighthouse, which included replacing broken and fractured parts and stabilization of the lens has been completed. The lens, the largest of all the lenses made, has been in the tower since 1857.

Ludington CG Station For Restaurant

Ludington Michigan’s old Coast Guard Station now owned by the city has been leased to become a restaurant. The Mason County Historical Society wanted it as a museum but city officials were worried that the historical society would not be able to raise the money that would be needed to support the museum or the infrastructure required to maintain it into the future. This is unfortunate but somewhat a reality with the current public apathy toward support of museums and historic landmark preservation.

New Bedford Lightship Problem Is A Direct Result Of Apathy

We reported in a previous issue, the roll, with dramatic photos, of the former Polack Rip Lightship, LV114, now the New Bedford Lightship, as she lay on her side in the water. We said at the time that it was unlikely the ship could now be saved. Shortly thereafter, thieves, under the cover of darkness, attacked the vessel and stripped it of 23 portholes and other brass fixtures and fittings. The historic vessel, which has been owned by the City of New Bedford for 30 years and during that time, despite numerous pleas, a volunteer group could not be formed to help the lightship. While many are screaming loud now, they made no effort in the past to help save the vessel, instead expecting the economically depressed city to simply fund the restoration out of taxpayer money. Over the years the city, which made various attempts to raise public awareness and locate funds, ran into the same public and corporate apathy that is plaguing what would otherwise be a fast paced restoration of our nation’s historic properties. The result of that apathy and the mind set that "someone else will do it," is the result of another historic property being lost.

This story appeared in the September 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.

All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.

to Lighthouse Digest

USLHS Marker Fund

Lighthouse History
Research Institute

Shop Online

Subscribe   Contact Us   About Us   Copyright Foghorn Publishing, 1994- 2024   Lighthouse Facts     Lighthouse History