Digest>Archives> May/Jun 2020

Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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Historic image of the north tower at Cape Ann ...

This column continues to provide excerpts from the “Lighthouse Service Bulletin”, a monthly publication of the Bureau of Lighthouses, U.S. Department of Commerce. The first was issued in January 1912, and it continued throughout the existence of the Bureau. Unedited quotes from Vol. II, No. 38, dated February 1921 follow. The Bulletin had as its object “supplying information that will be immediately useful in maintaining or improving the standards of the Lighthouse Service, and of keeping the personnel advised of the progress of work and matters of general interest in the service and in lighthouse work in general.”

Falsifying Station Records and Taking Unauthorized Leave – A case has occurred recently where it was found that keepers were absenting themselves from a station without proper authority, and had made false entries in the station records in an attempt to conceal shore liberty taken, and to not report same. After investigation three keepers were promptly dismissed from the Service. The shore liberty granted under the regulations is liberal, and the regulations in regard thereto and in regard to keeping correct records must be strictly observed.

Accident On Mary Island, Alaska – On the morning of December 30, 1920, while attempting to render assistance to a boat which had previously been wrecked in the vicinity of the light station, Herbert C. Scott, assistant keeper, Mary Island Light Station, and Leslie Williams, of Ketchikan, lost their lives from exposure and exhaustion, after having lost their trail and becoming confused as to their bearings. Charles Chapman, of Ketchikan, who also accompanied the two men, reached the station in a nearly exhausted condition and was saved. Keepers in remote localities should familiarize themselves with the physical characteristics of the country in the vicinity of their stations, particularly to heavily forested regions such as southeastern Alaska, and should take such other precautions as necessary to avoid such a needless accident.

Teredo Active In Pacific Waters – Excessive damage to marine timber structures during the past year by teredo has led to an investigation of the subject by the University of California, the United States Forest Service, and other authorities, who have discovered a tremendous recent increase in the number and activities of these destructive pests along the Pacific coast. The greatest havoc appears to have been done by the Teredo navalis.

The property losses during the past year alone are estimated at many millions. A recent inspection of Carquinez Strait Light Station, Calif., disclosed very extensive damage by teredo to the piling of the foundation, which will require immediate attention to save it from complete destruction.

Volcano of Kilauea – The Bureau is in receipt of the following report dated January 14, 1921, forwarded from the keeper, Kalae Light Station, Hawaii: I respectfully report that for the past 10 days this station has been enveloped with smoke, at times so dense that nothing could be seen a mile from the station. Apparently this smoke comes from the volcano of Kilauea, which appears from the station to be very active at present, assisted also by a strong north-northeast gale that has been blowing here for the last two weeks.

Kalae Light Station is over 35 miles in a southwesterly direction from the active crater of Kilauea, on the island of Hawaii, and is at the southern extremity of the island.

Cooperation – The Bureau is in receipt of a letter of thanks from the Navy Department dated December 31, 1920, for the cooperation of Edward A. Brooks, keeper of the New Dungeness Light Station, Wash., with the personnel of the Navy radio compass station at New Dungeness, both during construction and after completion of the station.

Publications Issued – The following publications have been issued: Light List, Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States, corrected to January 1, 1921; Light List, Pacific Coast United States, Canada, Hawaiian and Samoan Islands, corrected to January 1, 1921. These light lists include, respectively, lighted aids to navigation maintained by or under the authority of the United States Lighthouse Service on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, Porto Rico, etc., and lighted aids to navigation on the Pacific coast of the United States, Alaska, the Hawaiian, Midway, Guam, and the American Samoan Islands, but do not include unlighted beacons or buoys.

Damage At Cape Ann Light Station, Mass. – The following report dated January 3, 1921, has been received from the keeper, Cape Ann Light Station, Mass.: At 9 p.m. December 31, 1920, a large flock of geese bound south hit the north tower, killing five. Three came through the glass in the tower, breaking two window panes and chipping the prisms of the lens very badly on the northeast side.

Saving of Life and Property – On November 29, 1920, Albert C. Marquardt, first assistant keeper, Galveston Harbor Light Station, Tex., rendered assistance to the U.S. Engineer launch Col. Smead, with barge in tow, which had grounded in Houston Channel. On December 16, 1920, William Hardwick, keeper, Bridgeport Harbor Light Station, Conn., rendered assistance in rescuing seven members of the crew of a boat which had become disabled in the vicinity of the light station, and in recovering the boat which later sank.

That’s another sampling “From the Bulletin” Watch this space in each issue of Lighthouse Digest for more.

This story appeared in the May/Jun 2020 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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