Digest>Archives> Sep/Oct 2019

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


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Age Has No Barriers

Dot Barker, who turned 92 this past July, recently climbed the 257 steps to the top of North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for the 6th time. She said she will never forget the views from the balcony when she climbed it over 20 years ago before it was moved 2900 feet inland.  

Janet Head Lighthouse Opened

This past summer, the Janet Head Lighthouse on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada was opened to the public on Tuesdays thru Thursdays. The 1879 lighthouse, also known as the Gore Bay Lighthouse, had previously been closed for renovations.

Margaree Harbour Range Lights Designations

Canada’s 1901 Margaree Harbour Range Lighthouses have been designated as Heritage Sites under Canada’s Lighthouse Heritage Protection Act. Both lighthouses were restored last year.

Plate Honors Light Ship

Greg Krawczyk, a volunteer for the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, spends one Saturday a month volunteering at Chesapeake Light Ship LV116/WAL538 that is anchored in Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor. To show his love of the lightship, he’s had this license plate for a long time.


A rare United States Lighthouse Service Soup Tureen recently sold on ebay for a whopping $1,530. This proves once again that vintage items from the days of the old U.S. Lighthouse Service are still around.

Wanted: Lighthouse Patches

Our original lighthouse patch collection was given to the Maine Lighthouse Museum. So, with your help, we are starting a new lighthouse patch collection to eventually be donated to another museum. If you have a lighthouse patch that you would like to donate, please send it to Editor, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630. Shown is the patch of the former Lubec, Maine Police Department, which was disbanded about 23 years ago and features West Quoddy Head Lighthouse.

Vandals Caught

Thanks to security cameras, two people who were drawing obscene images on the pier pillars near the Michigan City Lighthouse East Pierhead in Michigan City, Indiana were caught. A 47-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy were arrested.

WQHLKA Founding Member Dies

Ninety-four-year-old Deane L. Hutchins, M.D., founding member of Lubec Maine’s West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association, passed away July 8, 2019. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends. He is shown here (wearing the royal blue jacket) at a ceremony on September 18, 2016 when a room at the Visitors Center at West Quoddy Head Lighthouse was named in his honor. Shown with him are (l-r) Marty Saccone with Dennis Drews, and on the far right, Timothy Harrison, who are trustees of the West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association.

Barnegat Bulkhead Replacement

The bulkhead replacement at New Jersey’s Barnegat Lighthouse is now completed. The current tower of Barnegat Lighthouse was built in 1857 to replace an earlier 1835 tower. It is one of the tallest lighthouses in the United States, but it seems that lighthouse people disagree on its exact height, with reports stating that it is 163-feet tall, 169-feet tall, and 172-feet tall. However, old government documents state that the lighthouse is 165-feet, 3-iches tall. The first order Fresnel lens that was once in the tower is now on display at the Barnegat Light Historical Society Museum in Barnegat Light, New Jersey.

Tillamook Book Review as Seen on Amazon

I absolutely love this book by Debra Baldwin. I have enjoyed her many articles on Tillamook Rock lighthouse, in Lighthouse Digest magazine, and was eagerly anticipating this book. It exceeded my expectations. The pictures are expertly chosen and placed to illustrate Tillamook’s history, and Ms. Baldwin’s narrative is wonderfully compelling and entertaining. If you love Tillamook Rock, lighthouses, history, or just some great stories, this book is for you. N.J. Welch The book “Tillamook Rock Lighthouse” is available from Lighthouse Digest as item #2209 at www.LighthouseDigest.com. Only when you buy this book from Lighthouse Digest do the proceeds of the sale go to the Lighthouse Digest Memorial Grave Marker Fund.

From Diesel to Renewable

A number of lighthouses in British Columbia, Canada are turning to solar and wind power. One of the first to change over was the Merry Island Lighthouse. The two large wind turbines on Merry Island have certainly changed the landscape of the island.

West Quoddy Leader Retires

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Maine’s West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association, Timothy Harrison presented E. Margaret Curley-Clay a framed Certificate of Appreciation for her service as President of the group from 2012 to 2019. Margaret has been involved with the organization since 1999.

Hunting Island Lighthouse to Come Down

Engineers state that South Carolina’s Hunting Island Lighthouse needs $3 million dollars in repairs. Documented cracks and corrosion show that the 136-foot-tall cast iron lighthouse will literally need to be taken apart in order to make the repairs and then reassembled on site. The State of South Carolina is hoping to budget the money for its fiscal year of 2020-2021 when the work would take place. In the meantime, and for safety reasons, only six people at a time will be allowed to climb the tower.

Former West Quoddy Executive Director Dies

Debora (LaValley) Bridges, who was the Executive Director of the West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association from 2003 to 2015, passed away this past July. Our sincere condolences go out to her family and friends. She is shown here in 2012 with Malcolm Rouse who, from 1986 to 1988, was the last lighthouse keeper of the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine.

Street Sign to Honor Lighthouse Keeper

City officials in South Haven Michigan have agreed to place an honorary sign on Water Street for lighthouse keeper James S. Donahue, who was the keeper at the South Haven South Pierhead Lighthouse from 1874 to 1909. The blue sign will be placed alongside the Water Street sign and will not impact the official street name or addresses in the area.

Frying Pan Shoals License Plate

A automobile license plate (FRYPN), belonging to Bill Collins, honors the Frying Pan Shoals Lighthouse where he served with the Coast Guard as an Electrician’s Mate (EM3) from 1976 to 1978. The lighthouse, a Texas style tower, stands out in the ocean 32 miles southwest of Cape Fear, North Carolina. Bill recalls that they had two mascots that were brought out to the lighthouse as kittens. Their names were Eggs and Bacon. Send us photos of your automobile license plate that has to do with lighthouses and we’ll publish it in Lighthouse Digest. High resolution images can be emailed to Editor@LighthouseDigest.com.

Vernors Lighthouses

For the third year in a row, Vernors, a ginger ale flavored soda pop, has come out with a limited edition run of cans that feature Michigan lighthouses. The 2019 series features the Big Red (Holland Harbor) Lighthouse, the South Haven South Pierhead Lighthouse, the Tri-Centennial Lighthouse in Detroit, the DeTour Reef Lighthouse, the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse, the Harbor Beach Lighthouse and the Point Aux Barques Lighthouse. Vernors said that the limited edition cans were a summertime promotion only and would be available until the end of September.

Former West Quoddy Executive Director Dies

Debora (LaValley) Bridges, who was the Executive Director of the West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association from 2003 to 2015, passed away this past July. Our sincere condolences go out to her family and friends. She is shown here in 2012 with Malcolm Rouse who, from 1986 to 1988, was the last lighthouse keeper of the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine.

150 and Counting

Lighthouse Digest subscribers Betsy and Henry Koch of Ohio have seen approximately 150 lighthouses in their travels throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. Their Ohio license plate features that state’s Marblehead Lighthouse.

Caught and Charged

Jamie Lester Underwood, 39, of Winston Salem, North Carolina was charged with vandalizing the original bronze door to North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. He was caught as a result of a Facebook posting asking for help that the National Park Service had posted. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay $1,922 in restitution for repairs and he was placed on one-year probation.

Unforgettable Proposal Gets It Wrong

A certain website news story recently listed the “7 Best places in the USA to Make an Unforgettable Proposal.” Among the places listed were “the Grand Canyon National Park, the observation deck on the Space Needle, the Empire State Building, and the Headlight Lighthouse.” Yes, they got the name wrong for the lighthouse. It should have stated Portland Head Lighthouse. They also said the Headlight Lighthouse is in Portland, Maine, when it is actually located in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. At least they got one thing right when they wrote, “This lighthouse presents a beautiful and natural ambiance for a proposal.”

Adding to the Collection

Tim Harrison, editor of Lighthouse Digest, presents an antique Lighthouse Soap and Lighthouse Cleanser container to Kimberly Ashby, executive director of the West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association, to add to their Lighthouse Cleanser display at the West Quoddy Head Light Visitors Center and Museum.

$1.5 Million for New York’s Plum Island Light

U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York recently announced that the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will spend $1.5 million on the 1870 Plum Island Lighthouse to stabilize iron work at the door and the top of lighthouse. In 2000, East End Lighthouses was formed to save the lighthouse from erosion when they arranged for 15,000 tons of rocks to be brought to the island to shore up the bank in front of the lighthouse and stop the erosion. However, the lighthouse, which is owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which operates an animal disease research center on the island, has kept the lighthouse off limits to the public and has allowed it to be neglected for years.

Change of Command at GLLKA

Ric Mixter has resigned as president of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keeper’s Association (GLLKA); however he will remain on its Board of Directors. The new president of GLLKA is now Mark Siegman.

Technology or Not

In the last issue of Lighthouse Digest we reported that the Vega (VRB-25) lens that was the actual “Beacon of Freedom” had been removed from Maine’s Little River Lighthouse. We believe that this dishonored the history of when the lighthouse was relighted after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The tower had previously been dark for 26 years. The apparent reason for this, as we were led to believe, is that the Vega (VRB-25) light was too weak and the solar power in use was not strong enough to make the light brighter. If that was the case, could it have been changed to electricity, which is available on the island, or an additional solar panel installed? Additionally, numerous times we were also told that the Vega lights were being phased out in favor of new technology. But, if that is true, why did the Coast Guard recently install a new Vega (VRB-25) at Rhode Island’s Beavertail Lighthouse? I guess we will never know the reasoning behind some decisions. But, it is also good to know that the Vega (VRB-25) “Beacon of Freedom” lens has now been returned to Little River Lighthouse to be on display in the tower’s watch room.

Crossed the Bar

We are saddened to report on the passing of Thomas B. Cardaci, 68, of Highlands, New Jersey. Thomas and his wife Christine, long-time members of NELL (New England Lighthouse Lovers) were known as “The Lighthouse Hunters.” Our sincere condolences go out to his family and wide circle of friends.

Keeper Diary Donated

Descendants of lighthouse keeper Arthur W. Woods recently donated his family diary and photographs to the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Woods served as an assistant keeper at Bakers Island Light in Massachusetts from 1897 to 1905 and as keeper of the Newburyport Harbor Light from 1905 until his death in 1919. The Newburyport Harbor Lighthouse is also known as Plum Island Light. Shown here is keeper Arthur W. Woods with his wife Emma, daughter Grace and son Arthur.

Dedicated Musicians

Musicians from the talented group “From Away Downeast” performed at Maine’s West Quoddy Head Lighthouse on August 7th, National Lighthouse Day. This dedicated group often performs pro bono at lighthouse and other maritime events. West Quoddy Head Lighthouse is reporting record attendance for 2019 at the lighthouse.

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This story appeared in the Sep/Oct 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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