Digest>Archives> Nov/Dec 2014

Keeper’s Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Sombrero Lens Issue Shelved

It seems that the City of Marathon Florida has shelved, at least for now, the idea of trying to get returned to the city the first order Fresnel lens that was once used in the Sombrero Key Lighthouse. It seems that the cost involved was way too high. Interestingly, they didn’t even know if the Coast Guard would allow the lens to be removed from the Key West Art and Historical Society Museum where it is on loan and displayed.

Money for Saugerties

New York’s Saugerties Lighthouse will receive $175,000 from the Federal Sandy Relief for National Historic Sites. The money will help the lighthouse recover from damage caused by Super Storm Sandy.

East Point in Danger

A report by the Army Corps of Engineers says that New Jersey’s East Point Lighthouse is likely in danger of being lost in the near future if something is not done to stop erosion. Possible solutions call for erosion controls or physically moving the lighthouse, all of which will be extremely costly, with estimates going into the millions.

Biloxi Gets Harbour Lights

The Biloxi Visitor’s Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, has accepted and put on display 27 limited edition Harbour Lights lighthouse collectibles. Naturally, one of the collectibles is of the Biloxi Lighthouse. The collection was donated by James and Tonie Day. Although the market is soft at the present time, because Harbour Lights lighthouse collectibles are no longer being made, they are most likely to increase in value as time goes on.

Lands’ End Makes Donation

Lands’ End, the mail order clothing catalog, recently made a $30,000 donation to the U.S. Lighthouse Society, of which $10,000 will go to the restoration of the Southeast Lighthouse on Block Island, Rhode Island.

Door County’s Desh Retires

Bob Desh, who, since 2006, has been the tireless and extremely dedicated Executive Director of Wisconsin’s Door County Maritime Museum, is retiring. However, he is not going away. He will continue to serve as a volunteer, although he does intend to spend more time travelling and having quality time with his family.

ALF Wants Nobska

The American Lighthouse Foundation has submitted a letter of interest to the Coast Guard for a license to restore and open to the public the Nobska Lighthouse in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. However, they will have some competition from the Falmouth Historical Society, and the Highfield Hall and Gardens, and the Woods Hole Historical Society, that have partnered with the Town of Falmouth, that also want to take over the lighthouse. Whatever group gets the lighthouse will have an upper hand when the lighthouse is declared excess under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.

Painting at Port Isabel

The City of Port Isabel announced that the Port Isabel Lighthouse is getting a full restoration inside and out. The planned work will include repainting the keeper’s house and the tower

Lease for Cape San Blas

The City of Port St. Joe has granted a temporary lease to the St. Joseph Historical Society to operate the recently moved Cape San Blas Lighthouse and open it to the public for climbing. Hopefully, that lease will soon be made permanent. The St. Joseph Historical Society, which also operates a gift shop at the site, was actively involved in the moving and saving of the lighthouse.

Money for Round Island

For the past ten years the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society has worked diligently to rebuild the Mississippi lighthouse that was virtually destroyed by hurricanes. In 2010 the base of the lighthouse was moved to Pascagolua, Mississippi where it was rebuilt using many of the original bricks in an area now known as Lighthouse Park. $1.4 million has been spent so far on the project. Now, $166,485 has been awarded to complete the interior of the lighthouse.

Lens to be Removed

The U.S. Coast Guard plans to remove the 4th order Fresnel lens in the privately owned Port Sanilac Lighthouse. Reportedly the lens will go on display at a local museum. But, it will need to be a museum that can meet the strict requirements of care that is required by the United States Coast Guard as well as being able to afford the exorbitant insurance cost. The lens will be replaced by an ugly modern “light emitting diode” beacon. Although Lighthouse Digest firmly believes that Fresnel lenses, in most cases, should remain in lighthouses, because the Port Sanilac Light Station has been privately owned since the late 1920s and the tower is off limits to the general public, in this case it is probably in the public’s best interest to have the lens on display for everyone to view and enjoy.

Wedding Vows Renewed

Congratulations to Florida’s leading lighthouse preservationist Hib Casselberry and his wife, Martha, who recently renewed their wedding vows on their 60th wedding anniversary

Fleming Elected

Kathy Fleming, Executive Director of Florida’s St. Augustine Lighthouse, has been elected Vice President of the Florida Association of Museums’ Board of Directors. Congratulations Kathy - your energy must be boundless.

Shipwreck Discovered

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society has discovered the wreckage of the 199-foot three-mast schooner Nelson that sank in 200 feet of water near Grand Marais, Michigan in 1899. Documentation of the site will soon be displayed at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum that is located at the Whitefish Point Lighthouse near Paradise, Michigan.

Giving Away a Lighthouse...

Pat and Loren Graham, who own the lovingly restored Grand Island North Lighthouse on Lake Superior in Michigan have been trying to give away their lighthouse to the Marquette Regional History Center to be used as a museum. But special use permits from the U.S. Forest Service and local Tribal concerns have created so many roadblocks that they have never been able to complete the deal. What’s amazing about this is that the couple has been trying to do this for the past 20 years. What does this say about too many fingers in the bureaucratic pot? The lighthouse, which is the highest above sea level in the continental United States, was established in 1854 and deactivated in 1961 and was purchased by the Grahams in 1972. More recently, Loren Graham wrote a book, Death at the Lighthouse, about the 1908 murder of the keeper and assistant keeper at the lighthouse.

NLM Opens

The National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island, New York officially held a soft opening on National Lighthouse Day. The event was attended by several hundred invited guests.

New Owner for New London

Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA), the New London Maritime Society has been awarded ownership of Connecticut’s New London Ledge Lighthouse. The New London Maritime Society, which operates the Custom House Maritime Museum, also under the NHLPA, owns the New London Harbor Lighthouse and the Race Rock Lighthouse.

Gay Head Transfer Approved

The United States Department of the Interior has approved the ownership transfer of the Gay Head Lighthouse to the town of Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. This will open the way to make it easier to get the necessary permits to move the endangered lighthouse away from the eroding bluff.

The 300 Pound Door

The door at Louisiana’s Tchefuncte River Rear Range Lighthouse that had been ripped off by Hurricane Irene has been replaced by a 300 pound steel door that is an exact replica of the door that had been ripped off. The hurricane, which also destroyed part of the spiral stairway, as well as ripping the door off, left the lighthouse open to vandalism, and numerous bullet holes were also found. Live streaming security cameras will now be installed. Future plans call for repairs of the stairway, bullet proof glass in the lantern room, and a replica Fresnel lens in the lantern room. The recent work at the lighthouse was done by volunteers and members of the Lake Ponchartrain Basin Maritime Museum who shared this photo with us.

Halfway Rock Sold

Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the General Services Administration has sold, through an on-line auction, Maine’s Halfway Rock Lighthouse to a private concern for $283,000. The lighthouse had previously been offered for free to qualified nonprofits, including the American Lighthouse Foundation, which had a preservation lease for the lighthouse, or other government entities, but none of them were interested.

Alpena Ownership

In the last issue we stated that the Alpena Lighthouse in Alpena, Michigan is owned by the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance. This is incorrect. The lighthouse is actually owned by the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy. We knew better, but the mistake was due to a senior moment by the person typing the story. It reminds me of the old newspaper editor’s saying “Every morning is the dawn of a new error.”

Halfway Rock Sold

Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the General Services Administration has sold, through an on-line auction, Maine’s Halfway Rock Lighthouse to a private concern for $283,000. The lighthouse had previously been offered for free to qualified nonprofits, including the American Lighthouse Foundation, which had a preservation lease for the lighthouse, or other government entities, but none of them were interested.

Sturgeon Bay Sold

The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal North Pier Lighthouse in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin has been sold to a private individual in a GSA auction for a paltry $48,500. Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the lighthouse had been offered for free to qualified applicants, but no one wanted it, so it was put up for auction.

This story appeared in the Nov/Dec 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.

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