Shown here in June of 1919 is a newly purchased 1½ ton Stewart truck at the Lighthouse Depot in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Painted on both sides of the truck are the words “U.S. Lighthouse Service 2nd Dist.” Affixed to the side panel on each side of the truck behind the driver and passenger seat was a brass lighthouse. A restored Stewart truck decked out like this one would make for a great museum exhibit.
The Old and the New Lights of Brandywine Shoal
Shown here is the 1850 Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse (r) and its replacement lighthouse as it was almost completed in 1914. The Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse in Delaware Bay near Lewes, Delaware was the first screw-pile lighthouse built in the United States. (A screw-pile lighthouse is a structure that stands on piles that are screwed into sandy or muddy sea or river bottoms.) The 3rd order Fresnel lens once used in the lantern is now on display at the Baymen’s Museum in Tuckerton, New Jersey. The lighthouse is now privately owned.
Built in 1873, the Barber’s Point Lighthouse on the southwestern shore of Lake Champlain near Westport, New York was discontinued in 1935 when it was replaced by an automated light on a skeletal pole. This vintage photo shows the lighthouse keeper and his family standing on the lawn. The site was named after Hezekiah Barber who settled the point in 1785 and operated a ferry service there. Shortly after the lighthouse was automated, it was sold into private ownership and remains so to this day as a well-maintained former light station. It is not open to the public. As a point of interest, it is one of two lighthouses in the United States with the same name. The other Barber’s Point Lighthouse is in Hawaii.
The Forgotten Black River Lighthouse
The Black River Lighthouse was established in 1837 at the end of a pier that extended 600-feet from the west bank of the Black River into Lake Erie in Lorain, Ohio. Its first keeper was Captain Augusta Jones, who served until 1841. The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1857 and demolished in 1875.
Now on the Doomsday List
Shown here is the Bellevue Range Rear Lighthouse when it was under construction in 1909 and then after it was completed. In 2001, the lighthouse was deactivated by the Coast Guard. In 2007, the government tried to give it away, but no group wanted it. In September of 2018, the 104-foot-tall lighthouse was added to the “Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List of Endangered Lighthouses.”
Tragedy Recalled at Lost Light
The headline in the February 23, 1902 edition of New York’s Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper read “DROWNED NEAR HELL GATE – Lighthouse Keeper Wright’s Boat Overturned and Son Swept Away in Swift Tide.” Samuel Wright, the lighthouse keeper at New York’s North Brother Lighthouse, and his son were on their way to replenish the oil in the beacon lantern on the Sunken Meadows, which he was in charge of servicing, when he lost control of the rowboat in the ice and sleet in the fast-moving current. The newspaper said, “While battling with the wind, the boat upset and Wright, with his 14-year old son, were thrown into the river. Wright was rescued and taken to the island but the son was swept off in the tide and was drowned.” Today the North Brother Lighthouse, as shown here in this vintage image, is virtually gone. The government deactivated the lighthouse in 1953 and left the abandoned structure to the elements. Its collapsed ruins have been overgrown with brush and poison ivy. The island, also with the ruins of a former hospital that once stood near the lighthouse, is now off limits to the public.
Travel Trailering in the Late 1930s
A tourist vacationing with his travel trailer takes a moment to stop by the Biloxi Lighthouse in Biloxi, Mississippi to have someone snap this photo of him on March 15, 1939 by the 64-foot-tall 1848 lighthouse. Unfortunately, he never wrote his name on the back of the photo so we will never know who he is. The Biloxi Lighthouse has survived scores of hurricanes and was most recently damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and renovated in 2009. Today it is the only lighthouse in the United States to stand in the middle of four lanes of highway (U.S. Route 90).
Carpenters & Old Cars at Cape Blanco
This never before published image shows lots of work being done at Oregon’s Cape Blanco Lighthouse from a photo taken by Art Shaffer who was the head lighthouse keeper there from 1950 to 1952. What’s really neat here are the old cars that are shown, as well as all the activity that is taking place. You will learn more about the amazing lighthouse career of Art Shaffer in an upcoming edition of Lighthouse Digest. (Courtesy Donna Shaffer Shinney.)
Inspecting Sapelo Range Light
Gib Johnston, an informational official with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, is shown standing on one of the railings of the Georgia’s Sapelo Island Range Lighthouse on an inspection trip. The photo was taken on November 30, 1976 by Joe Maher of the Ledger Enquirer Newspapers of Columbus, Georgia. Built in 1877, and also known as the Sapelo Beacon Tower, this 25-foot-tall range light stands about 600 feet east of the all brick, red and white banded 70- foot-tall Sapelo Island Lighthouse. Today the range light is painted white.
Climbing Wind Point
Local resident Laurie Fisher is shown here climbing the stairs at the Wind Point Lighthouse in Wind Point, Wisconsin during the U.S. Coast Guard’s annual Open House event in May of 1985. When Laurie Fisher reached the lantern, she was greeted by machinist technician 3rd class Jeff Carrie, who was giving tours at the top where he explained how the 2 million candle power from the DCB-24 aero-beacon could be seen up to 24 miles away. Old photos like this help to better interpret the history of individual lighthouses, and they are a vital link to the past. As a point of interest, the DCB-24 aero-beacon at Wind Point Lighthouse was replaced in 2007 by a Vega VRB 25 beacon. The original Fresnel lens that was in the lantern from 1880 to 1964, when it was replaced by the aero-beacon, is now on display at the lighthouse, which is managed by the Village of Wind Point.
It almost looks like this man is sitting on top of a mini lighthouse mounted on a truck. It appears that his job was to somehow or someway service lamps that were high above the street in the early days of electricity. Research indicates that this position was originally called a lamp trimmer. On the back of the truck it says “The Philadelphia Electric Co.” and on the front of the truck it says “USE Electric Light.” We are sharing this historic image because of its somewhat questionable tie into lighthouse history.
Leave the Driving to Us
This never published photo taken by Oregon’s Cape Arago Lighthouse keeper Art Shaffer sometime between 1957 and 1964 shows tourists who flocked to stop and photograph the lighthouse. Old photos with a Greyhound bus at a lighthouse are quite rare. How many of you remember the Greyhound Bus Company’s slogan? (Photo courtesy of Donna Shaffer Shinney.)
Senior Chief Tommy “Tee” Dutton, USCG, and Timothy Harrison (r), editor of Lighthouse Digest at Tommy Dutton’s retirement in 2003 in South Portland, Maine, an amazing 16 years ago. Tommy Dutton’s retirement did not last long. He was recalled to active duty as the Officer in Charge of Aids to Navigation in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he officially got to retire a few years later. A friend to the lighthouse community, his life motto has always been “You can’t be a beacon if your light don’t shine.” Dutton is now living back in Maine.
Helicopter Christmas Delivery 1971
Located west of Land’s End off of the extreme southwest point of the mainland of England sits the remote 115-foot-tall 1875 Longships Lighthouse. On December 17, 1971, the men of the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Cornwall, England surprised the lighthouse keepers with the delivery of a real Christmas tree for the holidays. To help guide the tree to the lantern’s outer deck, Petty Officer Martin Rush lowered himself with the tree to hand it off the two light keepers who can be seen standing by. After the tree was transferred, Petty Officer Rush was hoisted back up to the helicopter. As they flew away, the helicopter’s co-pilot could be heard over the radio to the lighthouse keepers saying “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good light.” The Longships Lighthouse was automated in 1988 and keepers never again celebrated Christmas there. Eventually, a helipad was built on top of the lantern of the lighthouse giving it a much different appearance today than what it looked like when this photo was taken.
An old car and a number of people bravely made it out over the ice to this off-shore lighthouse. Unfortunately, we have no idea when or where the photo was taken, and of course, we do not know the name of the lighthouse. If any of our readers can help us, we’d love to hear from you. Email Editor@LighthouseDigest.com or by mail to P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630.
Storm Topples Ohio Beacon
On February 21, 1912 a winter storm with fierce winds toppled the Lorain Rear Range Lighthouse on Lake Erie in Lorain, Ohio. The lighthouse is shown here before collapsing, and then as it lay wrecked in a pile of debris to be carted off and burned.
This story appeared in the
Jul/Aug 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.
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