Digest>Archives> Sep/Oct 2015

Tower Talk

Our Ol’ Lighthouses

By Timothy Harrison


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This characteristic image of a dilapidated lighthouse, by Darrel Somerville, seems to sadly wonder why no one is helping it. This may seem a little farfetched to some, but if you look back over the past 25 years it would be far from farfetched.

While it is true that many lighthouses have been saved, many others have been lost, and others will soon be lost. But even more disturbing is that we have lost the memories and the photographs of many of the lighthouse keepers and family members who served or lived at these lighthouses that now can never be shared with future generations.

While it is true that many photographs of lighthouse keepers and their families have been saved for future generations, many of these photos and stories are scattered about with many different groups or organizations. And the memories and photos of many other lighthouse keeper families, especially those that were far from communities, or lesser known lighthouses, will never be found and many have been discarded.

We are especially proud of our efforts in saving so much and sharing it with others. We have file cabinets full of documents, photos, and stories, not to mention what has been saved digitally on disks.

But we have some serious problems in the lighthouse community.

First and foremost is that most lighthouse groups are only concerned with the history of their own individual lighthouse and not that of other lighthouses or lighthouse history in general.

Second, many old and historic photos have not been stored properly, or duplicated, so that they can be protected for the future. Additionally, many old photos remain in the hands of private collectors who do not share any of what they have with the rest of the lighthouse community.

Third, many people are more interested in taking photos of lighthouses than learning about the history behind the lighthouses themselves.

Fourth, and probably most important, is that the percentage of people who care about lighthouse history seems to be dwindling, something that is more and more obvious from the posts that we see on places like Facebook and Twitter. Plus, we don’t seem to see a change in this downward spiral in saving history - what will the future hold? After all, if fewer and fewer people care about history in general, how do we expect them to care about and save lighthouse history?

This story appeared in the Sep/Oct 2015 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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