Digest>Archives> August 2010

Keeper's Korner

News, Tidbits & Editorial Comments From The Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Saving the Philippine Lights

The Philippine Coast Guard has issued an appeal to the public to help save their nations lighthouses. The Philippine government has stated they have 558 lighthouses. Many of these lighthouses, in remote locations, are rapidly showing signs of deterioration and vandalism. Many of the nation’s lighthouses were built by the Spanish or by the Americans when the nation was a protectorate of the United States. They are hoping that local groups will step forward to help restore them as tourist destinations. The program was actually started six years ago, but stopped when some groups started to change the historical integrity of the lighthouses they took over. The new program is dubbed “Adopt a Lighthouse.”

Roll of Quarters

For those of you who live in Michigan you may have seen the neat advertisement by Chemical Bank promoting ‘Made in Michigan.’ The ad shows a lighthouse station with the tower being a wrapped roll of quarters. Now if we could just get them to run that advertisement in Lighthouse Digest to help us in our research efforts to preserve lighthouse history. Maybe one of our readers has a connection that could make that possible.

Marblehead Walkway

A new memorial brick pathway has been dedicated at the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park in Marblehead, Ohio. So far, more than 200 people have contributed to the commemorative bricks. Bricks are still available for purchase and more information can be found at www.marbleheadlighthouseohio.org.

Restoration Starts at Monomoy

Campbell Construction Co is undertaking a $1.24 million dollar restoration project at the federally owned Monomoy Point Lighthouse on Cape Cod. However, Campbell Construction says the work that should be done would cost over $2 million. Under the current contract the keeper’s house will get a new roof, siding, windows and electrical wiring. It seems that the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge will now have to seek even more money for all the projects that want to have done at the lighthouse.

Lighthouses on the Cape May Bridge

It seems that the lighthouse facsimiles on the bridge entering Cape May, New Jersey from Schellenger’s Landing are not liked by some public officials who would prefer to see them removed. They have been called everything from cheap to looking like outhouses, or cheap signage boards. But, without a legitimate alternative, the structures will remain for now. However, if Cape May, New Jersey does eventually decide to replace them, we hope they will donate them to us. We’d love to have them on display in front of the office of Lighthouse Digest.

Superior Entry Lighthouse Keepers Wanted

We are looking for photographs of the lighthouse keepers who served at the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse which is also known as the Superior Entry Lighthouse. We are also looking for any type of recorded memories of their life at the lighthouse, old newspaper stories about them, obituary notices etc. If you can help please write to us or e-mail editor@LighthouseDigest.com.

Hilton Head Architect Dies

Noted architect Kenneth DeMay, who collaborated with the late developer Charles Fraser in creating the master plan to bu8ild the Sea Pines Resort and the famous red and white Hilton Head Lighthouse at Harbour Town Golf Links has died. DeMay was 77.

Progress at Troubled White River Light

It seems there is a ray of hope for the problems at Michigan’s White River Lighthouse that we wrote about in the May 2010 issue of Lighthouse Digest. Township officials have agreed to seek alternative ways to keep the lighthouse open on a regular basis. However, it appears that Karen McDonnell’s long time caretaker position will not be saved; without a last minute miracle. If McDonnell is forced out of her 27 year position, we hope that the community will throw her one heck of a big Thank You Party. If you would like to send her a letter of appreciation for a job well done after her 27 years of service you can write to her at Karen McDonnell, White River Lighthouse, 6199 Murray Rd., Whitehall, MI 49461.

Work Starts on NY’s Rock Island Lighthouse

A $1.1 million renovation has started on Rock Island Lighthouse. The work, which will take place over two seasons, will include interior and exterior restoration and more dockage at the lighthouse to accommodate larger tour boats. The project is being funded by a $800,000 federal grant administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation and $220,000 from the State of New York.

Point No Point Comes in Third

Washington State’s Point No Point Lighthouse came in third in a regional contest in a Partners in Preservation initiative sponsored through American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Twenty five participants were vying for the money. However, in this case, third place is a pretty big deal. The lighthouse has been awarded $100,000.00. According to Jeff Gales, executive director of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, the bulk of the money will be used to repair the aging tower. They wish to thank everyone who voted in the on-line process that helped the lighthouse win this much needed grant money.

Ontario Beacon in Danger

The Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse in Brighton, Ontario, Canada is in a serious state of disrepair. Sections of the cedar shingles have fallen off the tower sides allowing holes to develop in the structure and the foundation holding the tower up is beginning to crumble. Although the lighthouse is a popular tourist site, money for repairs has yet to be found or raised. There is a Lighthouse Interpretative Centre at the lighthouse which offers regular programs and the area is known for its bird watching.

GLLKA Gets Funds

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Keeper’s Association has received a third Michigan Lighthouse Assistance grant for the ongoing restoration of the Cheboygan River Front Range Lighthouse, which is owned by the group. The money will be used for foundation repairs.

New Book on Split Rock

Mike Roberts, the last lighthouse keeper to serve at Minnesota’s Split Rock Lighthouse from December 1966 to March 1969, has authored a new book about his experiences, observations and duties at the lighthouse which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. Published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Minnesota, the book, The Last Keeper at Split Rock, is now available at selected locations.

Jupiter Celebrates 150

Florida’s Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse celebrated its 150th Anniversary this past July with a special lighting of the lighthouse in a reenactment as it likely happed when the beacon was first lit in 1860.

Roberts Exhibit

Photo journalist Bruce Roberts who has probably had more lighthouse photos published than any living person has a new exhibit highlighting his 50 years of capturing change. The exhibit will be on display until the end of the year at the Outer Banks History Center Gallery in Manteo, North Carolina. Congratulations to Bruce. For more information you can visit www.obhistorycenter.ncdcr.gov.

Painted Lighthouses in Sandusky

Twenty-eight painted fiberglass lighthouse will go on display up around downtown Sandusky, Ohio. The summer long project, similar to others held in the past around the country, such as Maine’s Lighthouses on Parade a few years ago, is a fundraiser for the Firelands Red Cross and the Merry-Go-Round Museum. When completed, the lighthouse will beckon visitors during the summer of 2011.

Iceland’s Last Keeper Given the Boot

Icelandic Maritime Administration has fired its last lighthouse keeper, Sigurdur Palsson, who has kept the lighthouse which lies east of the village of Stokkseyri for decades, having inherited the position from his father. It is said that up to 1,000 people a year visit the Baugsstadaviti Lighthouse, which will now be off limits to the public. And another era of lighthouse history comes to a close.

What’s Next?

Bizarre things are happening around the world at now privately owned historic lighthouses. And, knowing history, it won’t be long before it happens in the United States and Canada. Take for example the owner of the Point of Ayr Lighthouse in Wales. To help promote the lighthouse and ghost stories associated with it, he hired a sculptor to build a seven foot tall stainless steel ghostly light keeper which is now displayed on the outer cat walk of the lantern room. Then there are the public officials in England who want to paint the Margate Lighthouse blue and white to help promote tourism, which they hope will also help to save the Dreamland Amusement Park that has the world’s oldest wooden rollercoaster.

Remembering Rusty Nelson

A Memorial Service was held this past June 26 at the All Faiths Chapel near Maine’s Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse for Lester “Rusty” Nelson, Jr. 80, who passed away earlier this year. The service was attended by many of his lighthouse friends. Rusty was active with the U.S. Lighthouse Society, especially in the early years of publishing their quarterly Keepers Log. Rusty’s beloved Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse would not be open to the public today if it were not for his efforts. He also spearheaded the movement to relight Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, known by many, simply as “Bug Light.” Over the years, Rusty and his wife Patti attended nearly every lighthouse event that we were involved in. Rusty was truly dedicated to lighthouse preservation. He will be missed, but he truly left his mark on history. Our sincere condolences go out his wife Patricia and the rest of his family and friends.

This story appeared in the August 2010 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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