Emergency Coal Delivery to Saugerties
In the cold winter of 1940-41, the crew of the Coast Guard Icebreaker Comanche (WPG-76) made an emergency delivery of coal to the New York’s Saugerties Lighthouse on the Hudson River. Because of the thick ice and rocks by the lighthouse, the USCGC Comanche was unable to moor alongside the lighthouse. The crew was forced to unload the coal in canvas bags and then sled the coal to the lighthouse. Once at the gangplank, they formed a human canvas bag brigade to pass it on from one crewman to the other and then dump it down a chute into the basement of the lighthouse. (Photos by Ruth Reynolds Glunt, courtesy Honor Reynolds.)
Searching for Drowning Victim
A City of Milwaukee Police Department Patrol Boat is shown here on July 28, 1963 searching for the body of a 19-year-old male who drowned while swimming in the water by the 1906 Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Recently, the government declared the lighthouse as excess property and is looking for a new owner of the lighthouse.
Changes Over the Years
The Kenosha North Pier Lighthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin is shown here on a cold and frigid day on January 14, 1962. If you look closely, you will see two other aids to navigation on the harbor’s breakwaters in the distance. The catwalk to the lighthouse, as well as the Coast Guard look-out tower, was removed many years ago. The lighthouse was originally painted white and later painted red, which is the color that it remains to this day. The lighthouse is now privately owned and is an artist studio.
100th Anniversary Float
The 100th birthday of the Lubec Channel Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine was celebrated in 1990 with this magnificent float sponsored by the Lubec Historical Society. It’s hard to believe that this was 29 years ago, but this photo is now a vital part of the history of Lubec Channel Lighthouse. If anyone has photos of floats that featured a lighthouse from other parts of the country over the years, we’d love to be able to publish them. High resolution images can be emailed to Editor@LighthouseDigest.com or photos can be mailed to us at P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630.
My Sweet Charlie
Some members of the film crew from the made-for-television movie My Sweet Charlie are shown on January 18, 1970 at the Bolivar Point Lighthouse in Bolivar, Texas where the movie was filmed. The movie won three Emmy Awards; one to Patty Duke (1946-2016) for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, one for Outstanding Writing, and one for Film Editing. It also received five other Emmy nominations. The 1872 Point Bolivar Lighthouse was deactivated in 1933 and sold into private ownership in 1947 and is not open to the public. The 3rd order Fresnel lens is now on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Washington D.C.
Cape Hatteras Drawing
These architectural drawings show the interior and the exterior of North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras Lighthouse showing how it would have looked before its distinctive black and white spiral stripes were painted on the tower. In 1999, at a cost of $12 million, the lighthouse was moved 2,900 feet inland from the eroding shoreline to prevent it from toppling. At 193 feet high, it is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States.
Rescue at Port Washington
This 1972 photo shows a Coast Guard helicopter that was used to rescue two fishermen who had gotten stranded at the end of the pier at the Port Washington Breakwater Lighthouse in Port Washington, Wisconsin. The men, Albert Bay and Waldemar J. Eichorst, were hauled up one at a time in a rescue basket. The two men were trapped by waves from Lake Michigan that were crashing over the breakwater. Some waves were reported as being over 14 feet high. The Port Washington Breakwater Lighthouse was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. Hopefully, someday a lantern will be reinstalled atop the historic structure.
Army at Lynde Point Lighthouse
This official Department of the Army Corps of Engineers photo was released on December 16, 1969 with the following caption, “Automatic Hydrological Radio Reporting Network, Old Saybrook, Connecticut.” We have been unable to find any old newspaper story or government report that relates specifically to this old photo. It may have had something to do with the controversy surrounding the Coast Guard’s 1969 plans to discontinue the lighthouse, a plan that was later scrapped. The 69-foot-tall Lynde Point Lighthouse was completed in 1839 to replace an earlier tower that was first lit in 1803. Located in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, it is also known as the Saybrook Inner Lighthouse. In 1966 the Coast Guard demolished the beautiful keeper’s house at the lighthouse and replaced it with a modern duplex. The lighthouse was automated 1975. The last we heard the Fresnel lens was still in the lantern.
Ludington Light in Heavy Fog
Amateur photographer Charles M. Baldwin of Flint, Michigan won a $500 prize on October 25, 1939 for this photograph of the Ludington North Pierhead Lighthouse in Ludington, Michigan as was being encompassed in heavy thick fog. The contest was part of the Flint Journal Newspaper’s Amateur Snapshot Contest for the National Snapshot Awards in the Explorers’ Hall of the National Geographic Society. The award money was quite substantial for its day, because $500 in 1939 is the equivalent to almost $9,000 today. The current Ludington North Pierhead Lighthouse was built in 1924 and is now cared for by the Sable Point Light Keepers Association. The 4th order lens that was once in the tower is now on display at the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum in Ludington, Michigan.
Helicopter Delivery Service
This dramatic photo, taken on July 19, 1972, shows a British helicopter crew depositing materials to waiting Royal Marine climbing experts atop Rockall, so that they could install a flashing navigational beacon atop the uninhabited granite rock formation in the western extremity in the Atlantic Ocean of the United Kingdom. Previously, a team of Royal Engineers, in a mission labeled Operation Top Hat, had landed on the rock and blasted off the peaked summit to create the flat top where the navigational beacon would be installed. The narrow rock island is about 280 miles off the coast of Scotland and experiences gale force winds on a nearly regular basis. Over the years, a number of daring adventurers and even activist protestors have camped out on the rock for periods of over a month. In 2012 adventurer Nick Hancock landed on Rockall as part of the Rockall Jubilee Expedition and sent out the first Tweet and Facebook update from the rock.
Birth Control Study at Lighthouse
The abandoned Plum Beach Lighthouse in the west passage of the Narragansett Bay near North Kingston, Rhode Island is shown here in 1974 during a time when scientists Dr. Frank Heppner and Dr. David Preble studied a “natural laboratory” at the lighthouse to find out the secrets of what appeared to be a birth control system developed by the birds themselves. The men visited the lighthouse every week or two over a few years to conduct research on pigeons. Because the floor of the lighthouse was covered with up to six inches of disease carrying guano, the scientists had to wear masks and other protective gear. Researchers discovered that the birds had their own birth control system that allowed them to hatch about the same number of eggs each year. It was learned that the birds deserted about 40 per cent of their eggs, apparently to compensate for a lack of predators. When the scientist took on the role of predators and removed 20 percent of the eggs, the birds made up for it by deserting fewer eggs. The Plum Beach Lighthouse was eventually added to the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List of Endangered Lighthouses. In 2003, under the leadership of the Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse, the lighthouse was restored to its former glory and relighted.
Keeper Attends Coast Guard Course
It is believed that this group photo, dated November 5, 1961, was taken at the Ludington Coast Guard Base in Ludington, Michigan. The Coast Guard men shown in this image had just completed some type of course that was given by a Mr. Hyde. If you look closely, the man in the back row, 2nd from the left, is the only man wearing a U.S. Lighthouse Service hat. He is Henry “Hank” Vavrina, who was a lighthouse keeper at Michigan’s Little Point Sable Light from 1939 to 1954, and at Big Sable Point Lighthouse from 1955 to 1965. (James Harkenrider collection, Lighthouse Digest archives.)
West Quoddy Head All White
If you’ve ever wondered what Maine’s West Quoddy Head Lighthouse looks like without its distinctive red and white stripes, now you know. This photo was taken in 1959 by Kenneth Jarvis when the lighthouse was being given a fresh undercoating of white paint before the red stripes were painted back on. West Quoddy Head Lighthouse is the easternmost lighthouse on the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Kenneth Jarvis was a long time civilian employee of the U.S. Coast Guard and many of the photos taken by him were recently shared with us by his grandson Wayne Jarvis, and will appear in future issues of Lighthouse Digest.
Ancestors in a Box
Often times while visiting antique stores, flea markets, and estate sales, you can find albums or boxes of old photos with no info about them. Some antique dealers refer to these as “Ancestors in a Box.” If these people had taken the time to write the full names of the people on the backs of the photos, the photographic legacy of the people shown could have been preserved for posterity. This old black and white photo is a perfect example. Written on the back is “Thelma at Owls Head Lighthouse.” The other photo was simply labeled “Me by the fog bell tower.” The 1902 fog bell tower at Owls Head Lighthouse has been gone for many years. With the thousands of people who have visited Owls Head Lighthouse in Maine over the years, we will never know what Thelma’s last name was, who “me” was, or even the year that the photographs were taken. What a shame.
This story appeared in the
Mar/Apr 2019 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.
All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.