Digest>Archives> Sep/Oct 2015

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comment From the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Tuskar Rock Turns 200

The Tuskar Rock Lighthouse off Ireland’s south-east coast turned 200 years old this year. The lighthouse sits on Tuskar Rock about seven miles off County Wexford and is a familiar sight to those who take the ferry boat out of Rossiare Harbour. Although the lighthouse is automated and its keepers have been removed, the Commissioner of Irish Lights has kept an attendant and an assistant attendant on duty at the lighthouse to care for the property and equipment.

New Coast Guard City

Congratulations to Elizabeth City, North Carolina which now joins the ranks of a select number of cities to be declared a Coast Guard City. The designation is given to cities that made a special effort to acknowledge the professional work of the Coast Guard men and women assigned to their area.

Girl Dies From Lighthouse Fall

12-year-old Lilou Gaude was killed from a fall from the 1949 Cap Ferret Lighthouse in France while performing an aerial acrobatics act about 10 feet above the entrance door to the lighthouse. She was performing as part of a TV show about the lighthouse called The Favourite Monument. The young girl was a member of the acrobatics company Adrenaline that was hired for the program that was to appear on France 2 Television. The firm is owned by the deceased girl’s father.

Australian Celebration

Congratulations to our friends in Australia on the 100th Anniversary of the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service. Australia’s enormous coastline is home to over 300 lighthouses and each one is architecturally, technologically, and historically unique.

Fireproofing Sparks

According to local newspaper reports, sparks have been created between the Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department on the handling of funds to fireproof the lighthouse. Problems like this are not uncommon between friends groups who manage lighthouses for another entity.

New Lighthouse for Washington State

Although there is an aid to navigation in Point Roberts, Washington, it’s not a real lighthouse in the real sense of the word. The Point Roberts Lighthouse Society wants to build a new $500,000 real lighthouse to replace the current beacon that sits atop a skeleton erector-set pole. In 1908 the U.S. Lighthouse Service purchased 21 acres for a lighthouse. However, whether or not a lighthouse was ever built here remains in dispute. But currently the erector-set style tower has been deemed ugly, and many locals want a real lighthouse built. So far, $20,000 has been raised toward the $500,000 project.

Bob Shanklin Turns 90

Congratulations to author Bob Shanklin who celebrated his 90th birthday past July 16th. Bob and his wife, Sandra have photographed every lighthouse in the United States, including Puerto Rico, and they have coauthored a number of lighthouse books. Over the years a number of their photographs and stories have also appeared in the pages of Lighthouse Digest. Bob is shown here at the June 2007 ceremony of the release of the Pacific Lighthouse postage stamps.

Funds for Wood Island LSS

The Wood Island Life Saving Station Association has secured funding for restoration of the exterior of the Wood Island Life Saving Station that sits on a small island off the coast of Kittery, Maine, and nearby New Castle, New Hampshire. $200,000 came from a National Maritime Heritage Grant, $200,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency, $200,000 came from the State of Maine, and $100,000 came from private donations. The abandoned Life Saving Station has been on the endangered historic properties list for many years. However, in order for the grants to be awarded, maintenance agreements must be put into place between the Town of Kittery and the nonprofit. The Town of Kittery has done nothing in 40 years to preserve the structure, but now they seem to want full control of the project. (Where have we heard this before?)


Six people were recently arrested by Michigan’s Huron County Sheriff’s Department for illegal entry to the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse. The lighthouse is located about two miles out in Lake Huron. The people got to the lighthouse by kayaks and other watercraft. In 2012, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the Port Austin Reef Light Association. Five of the people were charged with misdemeanor illegal entry and one was charged with misdemeanor obstruction of justice. Two other people with them were not charged.

What A Workout

To win a wager for free pizza once a month for six months, 70-year-old Peter Robertson climbed the steps of St. Augustine Lighthouse 40 times in one day. The previous record was 28 times in one day. However, Robertson trained for the event under the care of his son who is a chief resident physician of a hospital emergency room. He also wore a heart monitor during the event. However, before the event, instead of climbing for pizza, he decided to collect money and pledges from local business owners with 100% of the money raised going to the Hope for Hati Foundation. All totaled, Mr. Robertson climbed 8,760 steps, which he said was equivalent to climbing a 560 story building.

Foghorn Sounds Again

To the pleasure of many locals, the historic fog horn at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse on Shetland Island in Scotland has been restored and once again sounds a blast once every 90 seconds. Many people gathered to celebrate the event this past February as the restored fog horn was turned on again for the first time since 1987. The restoration was done by Brian Johnson, an engineer for the Northern Lighthouse Board.


On page 53 of the May/June edition of Lighthouse Digest in the story “Lighthouse Service Bulletin,” we incorrectly identified the person second from the right in this photo as Samuel Burgess Johnson when it is actually Arnold Burgess Johnson, who is the man who authored the book The Modern Lighthouse Service. Arnold Burgess Johnson also served on the Light-House Board.

Lighthouse Builder Dies

We are saddened to report on the passing of long-time friend and Lighthouse Digest subscriber Wallace “Wally” G. Holdsworth of Palatine, Illinois. Many of you may recall the story we did about the lighthouse facsimile that he built at his summer home on Lake Skegemog, in Rapid City, Michigan that appeared in the May, 2009 issue of Lighthouse Digest. Wally, who was 95, was also a frequent attendee of the annual Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Terry Yonker Passes

Terry Yonker, a long-time volunteer keeper of New York's Old Fort Niagara Lighthouse, passed away earlier this spring. In commemoration of Terry's outstanding dedication to the lighthouse, Old Fort Niagara held a memorial celebration on National Lighthouse Day, Friday, August 7th, at which time a plaque was erected in Terry's honor. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

West Quoddy In The News

Shown here is Shawn Goggin, manager of Maine’s Quoddy Head State Park; Margaret Curley-Clay, President of the West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association; Johanna S. Billings, staff reporter for the Bangor Daily News, and park ranger Brian Moores at the entrance to the tower at West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine. Johanna Billings was there to do a newspaper story about West Quoddy Head Lighthouse being picked by Yankee Magazine as the best lighthouse in New England to visit, and to also do a story about the efforts of Lighthouse Digest to raise money to place Lighthouse Service markers at the tombstones of keepers of the old United States Lighthouse Service.

Legal Problems Daunt Group

The New London Maritime Society is being daunted by legal and neighbor problems over access to Connecticut’s New London Harbor Lighthouse. As well as disputes with neighbors over access to the lighthouse, the City wants tours to the lighthouse to stop until property approvals are given, because the increase activity has increased the number of visitors and is not the same passive operation similar to what a lighthouse keeper would have experienced. The society has now launched a crowdfunding site to raise money for a dock at the lighthouse, which might alleviate most of the problems.

Duke Gives to St. Marks

The Duke Energy Foundation, an arm of Duke Energy Company, gave $7,000 to help restore the lantern room of Florida’s St. Marks Lighthouse. Restoration of the lantern is expected to cost $65,000, while complete restoration of the keeper’s quarters is expected to cost over a million dollars.

Overfalls Celebrates 77th

The Overfalls Lightship in Lewes, Delaware recently celebrated its 77th birthday with a big celebration, which included a memorial event to honor the life and dedication of the Capt. George Elliott, USN (Ret.) who passed away in October of 2014. Capt. Elliott was instrumental in rescuing the lightship from the scrapyard and led the way in the vessel’s ultimate $1.2 million restoration.

Waukegan Vandalized

What’s left of the once distinguished Waukegan Harbor Lighthouse, which lost its fog signal building in a 1976 fire and was decapitated after that, has suffered so much revoltingly worded graffiti that the City of Waukegan could no longer wait for the Coast Guard to paint over it, so they did it themselves. Although city officials admit the real issue is security, they couldn’t understand why the Coast Guard takes so long to do a simple paint job. Painting over the graffiti took only a few hours of work.

Money for East Point

New Jersey’s East Point Lighthouse will be getting a combination of federal and state money to save the 1849 endangered lighthouse. The National Park Service will spend approximately $1.9 million on beach erosion protection between the lighthouse and Delaware Bay, and about $600,000 will come from the New Jersey Historic Trust and the U.S. Department of Transportation to refurbish the lighthouse structure.

MLM Celebrates 10 Years

The Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, Maine recently celebrated its 10th year with a number of activities and special events that took place over three days. The Maine Lighthouse Museum has been plagued by financial problems for years, due mostly to a hefty mortgage and condo dues that it was saddled with by the City of Rockland when the museum was set up and reestablished from the old Shore Village Museum that was founded by the late Ken Black, known as Mr. Lighthouse. The museum, which has the largest collection of lenses, lamps, and other lighthouse memorabilia in the nation, was helped immensely by donations that came in from lighthouse aficionados around the country. But its woes are not over as a dispute still lingers between the Coast Guard and the museum on who owns all the artifacts, many of them donated by private individuals or discarded by the Coast Guard. Donations are still urgently needed and can be made on-line at www.MaineLighthosueMusuem.org or by mail to Maine Lighthouse Museum, P.O. Box 1116, Rockland, ME 04841.

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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