Approximately 1,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and somewhere around 1,600 miles from Portland, Oregon on the Pacific coast, stands the historic Linoma Beach Lighthouse that is now undergoing an extensive restoration.
Simply by its location at the upper center of the United States in the town of Ashland, Nebraska, most lighthouse aficionados have probably never visited this Cornhusker State lighthouse. But to the people of Nebraska, it is icon landmark that is steeped rich in history.
It all started out as a resort that was established in the 1920s at an old quarry about halfway between and about 30 miles from Lincoln and Omaha, which are Nebraska’s two largest cities. Putting together the first three letters of each of those cities, the original developers came up with the name Linoma. The lighthouse was added to the resort in 1939, which is coincidently the same year that our nation’s lighthouses were taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard. Making sure that everyone would know where the resort was, large letters spelling out LINOMA were vertically installed on the lighthouse to be seen from a great distance.
Over the years the wooden lighthouse fell onto hard times and the property eventually fell into foreclosure. The new owners, who purchased the property at an auction, decided to split the lighthouse off from the resort and create a nonprofit foundation so the lighthouse could be saved and be subsequently protected for generations to follow.
Interestingly, when the lighthouse was first built, it served as a gasoline filling station, and at 100 plus feet high, it was probably one of the tallest, if not the tallest of the Curb Side Beacons in the United States that used a lighthouse as a gasoline station. (Refer to the story Curb Side Beacons in the May/June 2012 edition of Lighthouse Digest.) Interestingly, the tower had its own fire suppression system that consisted of 55-gallon barrels of water on the top floor. The barrels are still there.
The initial phase of restoration is concentrating on the exterior of the lighthouse with 128 sections of plywood that make up the exterior having been removed one at a time. After the new siding was installed the group now plans to restore the windows and the foundation of the structure, as well as the land around the lighthouse. New letters spelling out LINOMA are being fabricated to replace the old letters. The interior restoration will begin as soon as funds become available. As well as cash donations, much of the material has been donated or provided at a greatly reduced cost.
The men who purchased the property and created the foundation to save the lighthouse are: T. J. Straight, Dave Lutton, Chuck Neimeyer, Jerry Otto, and Gary Otto. They are to be commended for leading this effort to save a national treasure. (All photos by David Lutton)
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2013 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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