In 1958, Dale Nelson, the Officer-in-Charge of the Patos Island Lighthouse Station, was ordered to destroy the historic keeper’s house that he had once lived in. Although we don’t know how he felt about that, it probably made a lot of sense at the time.
Over the years, the Coast Guard had let the old late 1800s house deteriorate, declining to make any major repairs. And when the orders came to demolish the old house, it was in very bad shape. Interestingly, Dale Nelson had also been in charge of overseeing the construction of the new triplex that had just been completed to house the Coast Guard families.
In 1974, the Patos Island Light Station was automated, and what was left on the island was allowed to fall into disrepair from deterioration and vandalism. In 2005, the local fire department burned the former Coast Guard quarters at the site. Today, only the restored lighthouse remains as a testament to what was once a large and active light station where keepers once lived, families grew up, and children played.
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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