Digest>Archives> May 2009

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Hurley-Wright Building - Lighthouse Headquarters

The Headquarters of the Bureau of Lighthouses, which was also known as the United States Lighthouse Service, had its offices in the Hurley-Wright Building at Pennsylvania Avenue and Eighteenth Street Northwest, in Washington DC. One of the owners of the building was Patrick J. Hurley, who was the Assistant Secretary of War under President Herbert Hoover. It was here that the General Administration and Engineering Divisions of the Lighthouse Service were headquartered. George Putnam, Commissioner of Lighthouses, had his office there, as did his successor H.D. King, the only two men to ever hold the title of Commissioner. We are searching for photographs of the exterior and the interior of the Hurley-Wright Building from the 1920s and 1930s. If any one can help, we'd appreciate hearing from you at Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630 or editor@LighthouseDigest.com.

More Than Just Lighthouse Keepers

In the early 1900s a spokesman for the Bureau of Lighthouses said that the United States Lighthouse Service had more employees decentralized outside of Washington DC than any other government agency. When thinking of lighthouses, the job that first comes to mind is that of a lighthouse keeper. However, in 1926 the government reported there were 142 different employment positions within the Lighthouse Service. For example, during that year there were 1,944 employees who were lamplighters, who maintained lighted aids to navigation that were not lighthouse stations where a lighthouse keeper lived. There were captains and crews of light vessels, and lighthouse tenders, clerks, superintendents, radio engineers, lamp makers, blacksmiths, draftsmen, carpenters, laborers, purchasing agents, scientific clerks, pipe fitters, plumbers, machinists, boat builders, masons, mechanics, sail makers and many other positions, and believe it or not, even one who was a chauffeur. Unfortunately there are perhaps thousands of photos of these people who have yet to be rediscovered and stories written about them to preserve this history for future generations. The question remains: where are the photos and stories of these people? If you can help, please contact us.

Lighthouse Digest In And On the News

After the cover of the November issue of Lighthouse Digest showed up in a Canadian newspaper, French National TV in Canada contacted Joanne Therrien, who took the photo of the Pointe-de-la-Renommee Lighthouse and asked her to come in for an interview on their one hour daily program. The episode aired on March 11 and featured Lighthouse Digest magazine, and other images of lighthouses.

Lighthouses On Money?

The United States Mint will be issuing new quarters over eleven years starting in 2010. The new quarters are to feature something about a national park in each state or other national historic site in each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories. Although National Parks will have the edge, it is possible that lighthouses, some which are in National Parks, could be chosen.


I am saddened to report on the passing of Eva Belanger who shared historic lighthouse photos with us for the book, "Lighthouses of the Sunrise County." Our condolences go out to her friends and family.

Long Time Subscriber Honored

Long tome Lighthouse Digest subscriber, Charles Dane Alden of Reading, PA, who climbed his first lighthouses when he was three years old, was recently honored by his local media. Alden served for 20 years as an officer in the Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation unit and over the years served at or visited 450 lighthouses. His retirement home is filled with lighthouse collectibles and lighthouse books and he has many fond memories of living at and visiting lighthouse. His fondness for preserving the past for the future is obvious in the number of artifact donations he has given over the years to various lighthouse groups.

New Poster Calendar

Our good friend Alan Claude, known world-wide for his lighthouse posters, has now come out with a calendar of 12 of Maine’s lighthouses from his poster artwork. The 2010 calendar includes his yet to be released image of Doubling Point Lighthouse and Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. The 11 x 14 calendar is $29.00 plus $6.00 for shipping from Alan Claude Studio, 42 Grant Street, Farmingdale, ME 04344 or on his web site at www.alanclaude.com.

Disputes Continue At Baker Island Light

Although ownership of Baker’s Island Lighthouse in Massachusetts has been transferred to Essex National Heritage Commission, local island residents, who lost a lawsuit to stop the change of ownership still want the island kept private and off limits to the general public. A contractor has been hired to remove lead-contaminated soil but a lawsuit has been filed by an island resident to stop the contractor.

China To Build Tallest Lighthouse

China has announced that they will build the world’s tallest lighthouse on the banks of the Yangtze River in the city of Chongqing. Officials state that the $1.47 million dollars it will cost to build it is justified because the lighthouse, complete with elevators and an observation deck, will be a gigantic tourist attraction.

This story appeared in the May 2009 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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