Near Tragedy at Seguin Island Lighthouse
This old newspaper clipping from the Portland Sunday Telegram and Sunday Press Herald, dated September 29, 1949, was found in a scrap book at a yard sale and has been in our files for a number of years. The photos were taken by Press Herald Photographer Hennessey. Although the quality of the images is not great, because of its historical significance, we have shared it here. The caption reads, “Quick action by Seguin Island lighthouse keeper Daniel Irvine, 23, left, and his wife, 19, inset, averted a family tragedy Friday when a tramway car broke loose at the top of the island cable railway, shown at the right, and careened down the 750-foot runway to crash at the bottom. When the hoisting mechanism failed and the car started to roll down the slope, Irvine grabbed their two-month-old son, Daniel Jr., seated left, and jumped off the tram. He shouted directions to Mrs. Irvine (Joyce) who tossed 18-month-old Millie, shown at left, to safety but the car had gained too much speed to allow her to leap. She suffered a broken thigh and cuts and bruises and their pet dog was killed in the crash on the lonely island three miles off Popham Beach. Mrs. Irvine is in “good” condition recovering in the Bath Memorial Hospital.” As a result of this incident, the Coast Guard strictly forbade any of its personnel to ride on the tramway.
Mystery Stone Lighthouse
The origin of this photograph of a stone lighthouse with octopus-looking legs is unknown. The date written on the back is January 13, 1942. The names of the two ladies standing inside and underneath are unknown. The lighthouse-style structure is shown resting on a stone foundation that rests on the shoreline of a body of water, and there is a railed walkway leading to the structure. There must be an interesting story behind this structure, but unless we can find out where it is or was located, we may never know the answer. Perhaps one of our readers knows. If so, please e-mail us at Editor@LighthouseDigest.com or call us at (207)259-2121.
Searching for UFOs
In the mid-1950s there was a flurry of UFO sightings in and around the Fort Pickering Lighthouse on Winter Island in Salem, Massachusetts. In response to this, Coast Guard helicopters from the first and newly established U.S. Air Rescue Service on the eastern seaboard, which had been established in October of 1944 in Salem, were ordered to be on the watch for UFOs while conducting training exercises near the lighthouse. The Fort Pickering Lighthouse was established in 1871 and was originally painted red. The keeper’s house no longer stands. The tower, now painted white, was refurbished in 1999 thanks to the efforts of the City of Salem and the volunteers of Fort Pickering Light Association.
Gathering of the Clan
This very old cabinet photo shows a large gathering of people who apparently visited Maine’s Seguin Island Lighthouse. Both the upper and lower photos are all of the same people, although the poses of some of the people are slightly different in both photos. All of the women are wearing long dresses and hats. All of the men are also wearing hats, and with the exception of one man, they are all wearing jackets. This group pf people may have been relatives or friends of the lighthouse keeper. However, none of the men in the photo is wearing a lighthouse keeper’s uniform. We wonder who the people are and why they were on the island. Most likely, we will never know.
Lighthouse Headquarters Radio Room
Unfortunately, when writing, thinking about, or visiting lighthouses, we often tend to forget about all the other aspects involved in the development of our nation’s lighthouses. There are many subsections that need to be researched and written about. This neat slice of lighthouse history is an original Harris and Ewing News Photo from our files that is dated May 16, 1928. The hand-written caption on the back of the photo reads: “The Radio Room on the 12th floor of the U.S. Lighthouse Service which is to be the ‘nerve center’ or radio headquarters of more than 100 radio stations along the 8,000 miles of civil airways. The radio operator is shown using a Navy receiver; the telegraph key, on right controls a transmitter at Arlington Radio Station.” We could not make out the name of the manufacturer of the radio, but the plaque on the battery, shown on the right, says it was a Burgess Battery. The Burgess Battery Company was founded in 1917 by Charles Frederick Burgess (1873-1945), which later became part of Mallory Battery, now known as Duracell. It would be interesting to know the name of the Lighthouse Service employee shown in the photograph and more about this department of the U.S. Lighthouse Service.
Lens Duty at Montauk
This original press photo, dated March 9, 1947, shows Coast Guard lighthouse keeper Archie W. Jones with his hand on the crank that winds up the weights that revolved the 200,000 candlepower lens in the lantern of the Montauk Point Lighthouse on Long Island in Montauk, New York. BM1 Archie W. Jones was the Officer-in-Charge at Montauk Point Lighthouse from 1946 to 1954. If you look closely, below the hand crank, there is a box of General Electric lightbulbs that appear to be 500-watt bulbs. Built in 1796, the 110-foot tall Montauk Point Lighthouse is the oldest standing lighthouse in New York. Today, the Montauk Historical Society operates a first class museum at the site.
Horse-Drawn Delivery to Lighthouse Tender
This very old post card shows a horse-drawn wagon making a delivery to the U.S. Lighthouse Service Tender Lily. This one-of-a-kind side-wheel lighthouse tender was commissioned in 1875 to service the aids to navigation on the Mississippi River. On November 23, 1911, the Lily sank near St. Albans, Missouri.
Lighthouse Dime Saver
Do you remember the days when banks would give out coin booklets to encourage children as well as adults to save money? The booklets came in many different coin size denominations. When the coin slots were all full, you’d take it to the bank to be deposited into your passbook savings account, and the bank would give you a new booklet to start the process all over again. This one was called the Lighthouse Dime Saver from the East River Savings Bank which was probably in New York City. We wonder if any banks still hand these out.
Shown here in the 1930s is the United States Lighthouse Service office and machine shop at the Terminal Island U.S. Lighthouse Service Lighthouse Depot in San Pedro, California, which is now the home to the Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team for Los Angeles and Long Beach. The building still stands today as the Coast Guard machine shop. The words “Lighthouse Service” were replaced with the words “Coast Guard” when the Coast Guard took over the Lighthouse Service in 1939.
Saving Lives at Point Judith
This 1920 post card features one of the life-saving boats used at Rhode Island’s Point Judith Life-Saving Station used to rescue people from shipwrecks. The Point Judith Life-Saving Station was located next to the Point Judith Lighthouse. In 1915 the U.S. Life Saving Service and the United States Revenue Cutter Service were merged to create the United States Coast Guard.
This 1930s photo, taken at California’s Point Hueneme Lighthouse by photographer Irving Conklin, shows some of the machinery needed at the larger light stations. The machine on the left is an electronically driven timer that opens and closes small air valves which in turn open and close the main valves feeding the big air-line to the diaphone. The machine on the right is known as a “Crosby” and was used in case the electrical power failed. If you look toward the top of the photo, you will notice a stopwatch hanging on the wall, which was used to check the signal for exact time. Shown in the photo is Walter White, who was the lighthouse keeper at Point Hueneme Lighthouse from 1927 to 1948. This photo also appears in the excellent book Lighthouses of the Ventura Coast by Rose Castro-Bran that was published in 2011.
Beacon at Cockspur Island
We know for a fact that this Civil War era photograph was taken at Cockspur Island in Georgia by Fort Pulaski on the Savannah River north of Tybee Island. However, there seems to be some dispute as to what this is a photo of. Old accounts indicate that there were once two lighthouses at the site - the Oyster Beds Beacon and the Cockspur Island Beacon - and that the Oyster Beds Beacon was originally built as a day-mark and a light was added at the top of the tower at a later date. So, because of the ladder going to the top of the structure, this may in fact be the Oyster Beds Beacon. Perhaps someone who has done some in-depth research on the area may have additional facts. Whatever the case, this structure no longer stands, but the Cockspur Island Lighthouse is still standing today.
Blotting paper for fountain pens was first manufactured in the United States by Joseph Parker & Son in 1856. Parker became the industry leader after recognizing the absorbent quality of softer paper sheets made without adding a binding element, or “sizing,” to the paper mixture. The result was a thicker card material that absorbed ink without damaging a pen’s nib or smudging written words. It wasn’t long after that when ink blotting cards were widely distributed as this form of advertising, as was this one from the Worcester County Institution Bank in Worcester, Massachusetts. Interestingly, even though they had a wide selection of lighthouses in Massachusetts to choose from, instead they used this painting that they labeled New Hampshire Lighthouse, which in fact is the 1878 Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in New Castle, New Hampshire. Old advertising items that feature a lighthouse are extremely popular among many lighthouse aficionados.
John Francis Cushman
When the famous 2nd Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse in Massachusetts was completed, the lantern and lens were removed from the Scituate Lighthouse in Scituate, Massachusetts and installed atop the Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse. In 1904 John Francis Cushman, shown here, was hired to maintain a small light on the jetty for local fishermen, and he lived in the old keeper’s house next to the headless lighthouse, shown here, until 1924. In 1916 the government deeded the lighthouse to the community, and in 1930 the town placed a new lantern atop the lighthouse. Today it stands as a restored light station.
Beams from Two Lights
Because the west tower, shown on the left, at the Cape Elizabeth Light Station in Cape Elizabeth, Maine was discontinued in 1924, this is a rare image showing a beam of light shining from both of the two lights at the historic light station. Because of the two towers, the light station was often referred to as Two Lights, a name that is still carried forward to this day. The west tower has been privately owned for many years and was once owned by actor Gary Merrill. The keeper’s house at the east tower, right, is privately owned, and the tower is licensed to the American Lighthouse Foundation, but the beacon is maintained by the Coast Guard. The 1855 Fresnel lens from the east tower is now in the possession of the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine.
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2016 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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