Digest>Archives> May/Jun 2017

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Honoring a Keeper

After we published Lisa Courtenay’s story, “John Leo Surette, Thirty Years of Memories at Peases Island Lighthouse” in the January/February 2016 edition of Lighthouse Digest, Lisa has been busy trying to get a plaque placed on the island honoring her grandfather’s years of lighthouse service. She has since been notified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada that they will allow a plaque to be placed on the island. More recently, her ongoing efforts to promote the lighthouse garnered her a front page story in the Lowell Sun newspaper in Massachusetts, which featured a large color photo of 84-year old Joseph Surette, son of lighthouse keeper John Leo Surette, holding the open pages of the Lighthouse Digest story. (Photo by Julia Malakie, courtesy The Lowell Sun.)

Actor Wants Lighthouse

Actor Matt Damon says he wants to buy a lighthouse in Ireland and live there like the lighthouse keepers of yesteryear once lived. After visiting Ireland’s west coast, he said, “How awesome would that be? Watching the Atlantic crashing over the Irish cliffs, the rain coming down, and, the grey skies. I love the weather.” If he ever does buy a lighthouse, we doubt that he would live there as the lighthouse keepers did in their time.

River Aids in Danger

Recent media accounts have claimed that the Coast Guard is having a difficult time maintaining aids to navigation on major rivers from roughly the St. Louis area north to the Twin Cities of Minnesota and between Omaha, Nebraska and near Chicago. The reason given is that the fleet of aging river tenders all have more than 50 years of service and that they are constantly out of service for repairs. The Coast Guard says that they need $20 million to bring the Coast Guard’s fleet of tenders, which include 36 of them that operate on inland waterways. It is obvious that Congress needs to allocate more money to the Coast Guard rather than keep the budget flat as was now done or cut the budget, as is planned for next year.

Thieves Hit Pt Iroquois Light

Over the winter months, criminals broke into the beautifully restored Point Iroquois Lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Fortunately, the idiots only stole a cash register and did not vandalize or steal any of the valuable artifacts that were on display. Perhaps they should install a security system.

New Tram for Nubble Light

Maine’s York Selectmen recently approved funds to build a new tram that is used to haul supplies from the mainland to the lighthouse. The funds for rebuilding the tram that had been damaged beyond repair in 2013 by Winter Storm Nemo are coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The tram will be useful in getting supplies to the island for the restoration and painting work that will take place this summer. (Photo by Donald Gipe.)

NPS Renews Fire Island Lease

The National Park Service recently renewed a five year lease with the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society that allows both of them to continue with their joint efforts to preserve and keep the Fire Island Lighthouse open to the public. (Photo by Karen Carlomano.)

Bloody Point To Go Dark

It seems that the Coast Guard wants to darken Maryland’s Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse because the lighthouse actually may now be unsafe to service. In 1960, an electrical fire virtually destroyed the interior of the lighthouse, and it was never rebuilt, In December of 2006, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the lighthouse was sold at auction for $100,000 to Michael Gabriel of Carson City, Nevada, who apparently has not made any efforts to restore the 1882 tower. (Lighthouse Digest photo.)

Pier Repairs at Grand Haven

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is shown here removing parts of the Grand Haven South Pier in Grand Haven, Michigan, at the end of last year. The catwalk to the lighthouses had previously been removed. The $2.65 million project is expected to take until October 2017 to complete, after which time it is hoped that the catwalk will be replaced. Shown in the image are the Grand Haven South Pierhead Outer and Inner Lighthouses. (Photo by Joel Bissell courtesy of MLive.)

Trinidad Memorial in Danger

Winter storms have placed California’s Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse in danger of collapsing over the bluff. The lighthouse is an exact replica of the actual Trinidad Head Lighthouse. The lantern of the lighthouse holds a Fresnel lens that is on loan to the community from the U.S. Coast Guard. (Photo by Carole Webster.)

Fresnel Lens Controversy

At a time when many people are concerned about so many Fresnel lenses being removed from lighthouses, it seems that the Fresnel lens at Michigan’s Sturgeon Point Lighthouse has been spared even though it does not comply with the environmental rules that have been set in place by the Coast Guard. It seems that a number of years ago (2002-2007) a Memorandum of Agreement was negotiated between the State of Michigan and the U.S. Coast Guard that would allow the Fresnel lens to remain in the lantern of Sturgeon Point, provided that the lens would meet the inflexible Coast Guard requirements of proper care of a Fresnel lens. But apparently the Alcona Historical Society, the group that manages the lighthouse, has not, to the best of our knowledge, met those requirements. But if this kind or arrangement can be made for Sturgeon Point Lighthouses, why can’t the same arrangement be granted for some of the other lighthouses? Shown here is a volunteer next to the 3½ order Fresnel lens in the lantern of the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.

This story appeared in the May/Jun 2017 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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