Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2014

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Dangerous Work at Spindly Lighthouse


You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<

Two Coast Guard keepers at Florida’s Fowey Rocks Lighthouse are shown doing maintenance in July of 1954 on the gigantic wire cables that act as supports to the base of the foundation of the 1878 spindly- legged structure. Since this image is from an old press wire photo that got separated from the caption and story, we don’t know the names of the men in the photo.

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<

However, the photo shows a total disregard for safety, something that was common years ago. The man shown standing at water’s edge while using an electric sander to sand the wire cable is not wearing a life jacket or protective goggles, nor was he attached to any kind of life-line. He is also barefoot. One slip on the base that he is standing on, or a lap of water hitting his feet, could have caused a severe shock or electrocution. These men should have been aware of some of the history associated with the lighthouse. In the 1940s, a Coastguardsman fell into the water while transferring from a boat to the lighthouse. The waves and current pushed him into the structure, hitting his head and killing him.

You will also notice in the photo the home-made triangle lifts that were used to apparently lower and raise the Coastguardsman to the deck above. There were no OSHA regulations in those days.

In 1950, Rose Mallory, a reporter for the Miami Daily News, went out to the lighthouse with a census taker and a photographer to do a story. She was wearing a tight dress and high-heeled shoes. Just as she stepped from the boat onto the lighthouse ladder a slight wave hit the boat and she lost her grip and plunged into the water. Standing on the platform above was photographer Walter “Wally” Davis who was busy snapping photos and was able to capture Mallory in full flight just before she plunged into the water. His photo, which appeared in newspapers across the country, won a national award from Associated Press.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2014 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