Digest>Archives> November 2006

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


New Canal

New Orleans’s New Canal Lighthouse will be rebuilt if the Pontchartrain Basin Foundation gets its way. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita severely damaged the lighthouse. The only problem in gaining ownership of the lighthouse to begin fundraising is literally paperwork and legal questions, which the group hopes to resolve shortly. We’ll try to keep you posted.

New Bedford Lightship To Be Scrapped

It would now appear that for all practical purposes the New Bedford Lightship, which rolled over several months ago is being sold for scrap. Ported in New Bedford, MA, the vessel was previously the Pollock Rip Lightship until the City of New Bedford acquired it and changed its name. Original plans, that never materialized, were to turn it into a floating museum. A recent auction was stopped in progress when preservationists demanded that the artifacts should be removed from the vessel before it was sold for scrap, something that was objected to by the salvage bidders. Hopefully some of the artifacts from the historic vessel will go to a museum before it is finally sold for scrap metal.

New Lighthouse Plates in Ohio and Pennsylvania

Ohio will be getting a second lighthouse license plate if State Rep. Tim Cassell has his way. He has introduced legislation in Ohio for a license plate that would feature the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse with proceeds from the sale of the plate to benefit the restoration of the lighthouse.

Pennsylvania will have a new license plate that will feature the New Presque Isle Lighthouse. A number of years ago former Gov. Tom Ridge rejected the idea of a lighthouse plate under the recommendations of the state police officials. However, state officials have now changed their minds. To view the new plate go to www.discoverpi.com and then click on lighthouse plate.

Full Moon at Hatteras

For the first time ever, this past July, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras National Seashore was open in the evening for a special Full Moon Tour. For the fortunate sixty people who were able to get tickets for the Full Moon Tour, not only did they get their place in history, they were able to experience what a nineteenth century lighthouse keeper would have seen on his night-time watch and the beauty of a full moon from America’s tallest lighthouse. Wow!!

Sailors Help Maine Beacon

Seventeen sailors from the U.S. Navy’s Cape St. George spent some time at Maine’s Burnt Island lighthouse volunteering their time during Boothbay Harbor’s Windjammer Days. They rebuilt the amphitheatre public seating, assisted in projects at the education center, improved the boat slip and performed island maintenance. The Cape St. George (CG-71) is the first Navy ship to bear the name and is the 25th ship of the Ticonderoga class. The USS Cape St. George is home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. The vessel is named after the Battle of Cape St. George that took place in the South Pacific on the island of New Ireland in the Bismark Archipelago in November of 1943.

Maine Volunteer Honored

Congratulations to Ted Panayotoff who was honored in Hometown Spotlight for his docent work at the Maine Lighthouse Museum and at the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse where he serves as a volunteer for the Friends of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation.

Information Needed on Arnold Burgess Johnson

We are looking for a photograph and biographical information on Arnold Burgess Johnson who was the Chief Clerk of the United States Light House Board in the late 1800s. We know that he was instrumental in designing the Lighthouse Service displays and exhibits at the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois in 1893. If anyone can help us or guide us to someone who can, we would appreciate hearing from you at editor@LighthouseDigest.com or by mail to Tim Harrison, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630.

More Coast Guard to Canadian Border

A task force in Washington has recommended the deployment of 8,000 troops to guard the Canadian border with the United States to halt the flow of illegal immigrants. The 22-page report issued by the task force recommends that of the 8,000 troops, 1,600 of them be Coast Guard personnel along with 400 Coast Guard and Navy patrol craft.

Lubec Channel Light Morong Correction

In the September issue we mentioned that Frederic W. Morong, Sr., who was the first keeper at Lubec Channel Light, also wrote the lighthouse poem “Brassworks.” This was incorrect. The poem “Brassworks” was actually written by his son, Frederic W. Morong, Jr., who was also in the Lighthouse Service. Frederic W. Morong, Jr., entered the Lighthouse Service in 1922, first as a mechanic, then as the District Machinist and later served as a Lighthouse Inspector. He transferred to the Coast Guard in 1939 where he served until his retirement in 1948. It was during the time when he was the District Machinist in the Lighthouse Service, while on a visit to Maine’s Little River Lighthouse, that he wrote the poem “Brassworks” while at the kitchen table in the keeper’s house.

Former Commandant Dies

Admiral J. William Kime, 72, former Commandant of the United States Coast Guard from 1990 to 1994 died after a courageous battle with cancer this past September. He took over command of the Coast Guard from Admiral Paul A Yost, Jr. When Admiral Kime retired Admiral Robert E. Kramek succeeded him. Our condolences go out to Admiral Kime’s family.

Breakwater Money Vetoed

Michigan’s Governor Granholm has used a line item veto to stop a $400,000 repair to the Petoskey Breakwater where the lighthouse is located. The governor said she vetoed the money because the breakwater is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, which can apply for money for emergency repairs form the Michigan Department of Resources.

Kids Get Rare Blanket For White River Light

Thanks in part to a donation of $800 from money raised by second graders at Michigan’s Reetha-Puffer’s Central Elementary School the state’s White River Light Station has been able to purchase a rare original wool blanket of the United States Lighthouse Service. The blanket was purchased from an antique dealer. The blanket and other rare items recently acquired by the lighthouse will now be on display for visitors to see.

Judge Stops Condos at Lighthouse

Michigan’s Powell Township Planning Commission has again been blocked from issuing conditional use permit to build condos adjacent to Michigan’s Big Bay Point Lighthouse. The ruling was based on the evidence and tremendous support from many neighbors of the lighthouse to stop the development, which they believe would ruin the area surrounding the historic lighthouse site. Exactly what will happen next in the appeals process is unclear.

Pennsylvania Lighthouse Dedicated

What was originally referred to as the Tionesta Lighthouse in Tionesta, Pennsylvania was recently dedicated as the Sherman Memorial Lighthouse in honor of area resident Jack Sherman who designed and built the six-story lighthouse as a permanent tribute to his family’s legacy. The lighthouse sits on the northern end of a 22-acre island that will soon also house the Fishing Museum of Pennsylvania. The lighthouse will serve as a lighthouse museum of sorts and has a collection of 180 lighthouse replicas on display.

Glenn Ford Dead at 90

One of my favorite actors, Glenn Ford recently passed away. He appeared in numerous movies and TV shows. His film credits include, “A Stolen Life,” a 1946 melodrama with Bette Davis playing the twins in love with the lighthouse inspector. It makes me wonder, in the history of movies, how many roles were there for the part of a lighthouse inspector?

New Australian Book

A new book by John Ibbotson, titled “Lighthouses of Australia - The Offshore Lights,” can only be described as spectacular. The book was published in conjunction with his previous book, “Lighthouses of Australia, Images From the End of an Era.” The new hard cover book with its 288 pages is a wealth of information and absolutely superb photographs or Australia’s remote lighthouses. The book has 500 with photographs of over 300 different lighthouses and buoys or their stunning locations with concise information. It includes a section on modern lighthouse lanterns and their current status. It has a section on the history of Australia’s lighthouse tenders and the personal accounts of two voyages done on the last Australian lighthouse tender the MV Cape Grafton /MV Southern Supporter. This is a real “must-have” book for every lighthouse enthusiasts. For more information visit www.lighthouses.com.au or email lighthouses@mira.net.

Bloody Point Bar on the Block

By the time we go to press Maryland’s Bloody Point Bar Light may or may not have a new owner. The government put the 1862 lighthouse on the auction block. Referred to by many as the “Coffee Pot Lighthouse,” an electrical fire gutted the lighthouse in 1960 and the interior was never rebuilt. Access to the lantern room is by a framed-in ladder that goes straight up. The lighthouse is located in the Upper Chesapeake Bay near Claiborne and is entirely surrounded by water.

Czech Airlines Features Lighthouses

Review Magazine the in-flight magazine of CZECH AIRLINES featured a major story with spectacular photographs of the lighthouses of Europe in its July-August 2006 issue. The article was written in both Czechoslovakian and English. Our thanks go to Fr. Kevin Finnegan for sending us a copy.

Granite Chunks Fall From Perry Monument

The Perry Memorial Monument on South Bass Island in Put-In-Bay, Ohio, has suffered some damage form the elements. Recently a 500 pound piece of granite from atop the 353-foot tall tower came crashing to the ground, causing the structure to be closed to the public. The National Park Service owns the structure that was built in 1912-15 to commemorate Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory against the British during the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. Although some people claim it is not a lighthouse, its white flashing light does serve as an aid to navigation.

Lawn Light Reappears

A six-foot lawn lighthouse that was stolen from the lawn of 84-year old Norma McCumber in Elbow Lake, Minnesota, suddenly reappeared. The lighthouse, although slightly damaged, is now back where it belongs and it is unknown who took it or returned it.

Boca Grande Open Again

Florida’s Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum opened again after renovations.

Moose On The Loose

Just a few days before Maine’s moose hunting season started a 600-pound moose sought refuge at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Bristol. The moose was having a great time eating the vegetation and was quite reluctant to leave and charged one of the volunteers who jumped a fence to escape. Finally at the prodding of a number of volunteers who kept shouting and clapping their hands, the moose left the lighthouse compound.

E-Mail Problems

Many people send me emails with questions, story ideas or with an offer to submit old photos or memories of lighthouse life. I try to take the time to reply to each and every person. But many times, after I take the time to type up a detailed reply and send it to them, the email bounces back with a note from their server that my email address is not registered with their SPAM filter or something similar. Not only is this an annoyance to me, but the person who sent the email probably is annoyed that I seemingly have not answered them. Sometimes these same people write back to me two or three times asking if I received the email or asking why I have not answered. The answer is simple; I can’t unless you set up your filter to accept my email. Please program the following email address into your computer’s address book to accept our emails: Editor@LighthouseDigest.com.

Women’s Leader Dies

Dorothy Stratton, 107, who led the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve during World War II died this past September 17. In 1942 she formed and became the first director of the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, after being commissioned a senior lieutenant in the Navy. At that time the Women’s Reserve was to fill in the positions of men in the Coast Guard who were overseas fighting in the World War. Among other high ranking positions she also once served as the Executive Director of the Girls Scouts of the USA.

Apostle Island’s Beacon Nearly Restored

Reports indicate that the $1.4 million restoration project at Raspberry Island Lighthouse is nearly complete. It is expected that the lighthouse will be open next summer for visits. However, monetary problems within the Apostle Island’s National Lakeshore may eventually cause some lighthouses under their auspices to be closed and even boarded up, perhaps for long periods of time.

Coast Guard To Defend the Capital

The United States Coast Guard, has now been burdened with an additional responsibility for air intercept operations over Washington D. C. The Coast Guard will act in support of the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s mission with rotary air intercept capability against unauthorized aircraft, which fly into air defense zones around the capital. The old time Coast Guard lighthouses keepers of yesteryear could never have imagined the changing duties of today’s modern Coast Guard.

Finn’s Point Closed

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has now closed Finn’s Point Rear Range Lighthouse to the public. The lighthouse located in New Jersey’s Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge has experienced major downsizing with a reduction in its operating budget causing many programs at the refuge to be halted and closure of the lighthouse is one of them. U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials state they “are not hopeful for any quick change in the situation.” The keeper’s house at the site was torn down after it was repeatedly vandalized. In recent years a “friends” group would open the tower for tours, something that will now no longer be allowed.

Guard Can’t Guard Its Own Base

Now here’s something I don’t understand. The United States Coast Guard, which guards our nation has hired contract security guards to staff the guard post at Alaska’s Kodiak Coast Guard Base.

Chicago To Get Cutter Museum

The USCG 180-foot cutter Acacia is now going to be a floating maritime museum home ported in Chicago, Illinois and operated by the American Academy of Industry. The cutter was built in 1944 to maintain buoys and lighthouses and to serve as an icebreaker and work in search and rescue and fire fighting. The vessel will display artifacts significant to maritime, military and industrial history. Currently moored in Indiana the ship should be ported in Chicago next year.

This story appeared in the November 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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