One of the most famous events in U.S. history that took place aboard a U.S. Lighthouse tender happened in Havana Harbor, Cuba in 1888 when a Board of Inquiry was assembled in the stateroom of the U.S. Lighthouse Service lighthouse tender Mangrove to investigate the sinking of the battleship USS Maine on February 18, 1888 - an event that ultimately thrust the United States into war against Spain with the battle cry of “Remember the Maine.”
As reported in a story in the May/June edition of Lighthouse Digest, while on its way back to Florida from Cuba, the Mangrove also captured the enemy vessel Panama and the crew of the Mangrove was eventually awarded some of the prize money for capturing the ship.
Built in 1897, the 821-ton lighthouse tender Mangrove served our nation faithfully until March of 1947 when it was decommissioned and sold for scrap.
Since it was unclear if any items from the lighthouse tender Mangrove was ever saved, many historians wondered if any artifacts from such a historic vessel had been salvaged at the time of its being scrapped and might still be around. We now know that at least some items were saved.
We recently heard from Benjamin Mevers, who found the bell from the Mangrove, and he was kind enough to send us a photo of the bell that is now in his possession.
And, although we don’t yet have a photo of it, we also heard from Tommy Graham that he had recently acquired the wooden ship wheel from the Mangrove that will hopefully and eventually be displayed at The Village Museum at McClellanville, South Carolina. He acquired it from a person who had it for decades and had acquired it from another person who was taking it to the dump to be disposed of. A small plaque on the wheel said that it came for the Mangrove.
This proves once again that there must be hundreds of lighthouse related artifacts around that most of us know nothing about.
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2018 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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