Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2021

From the Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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Louis A. Borchers, Jr., whose hobby was ...

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 Volume II Number 5, dated May 1, 1918, 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.”

Water Supply At Light Stations – On the recent inspection of a light station where rain water is used for domestic purposes it was found that the water in the tank had a strong odor and was apparently unfit for use, while at another station dead birds were seen lying in the intake of the cistern water supply pipes where they leave the roof trough. At all stations where rain water is used for domestic purposes wire screens should be provided for the tops of the tanks, and wire strainers should be placed over the mouths of the downspouts leading from the roofs to the cisterns. Keepers of light stations are to keep the roofs from which the water supply is obtained rigidly cleaned in order to prevent contamination of the water.

Lighthouse Keeper Cans Fish – L.A. Borchers, keeper of Turn Point Light Station, Wash., in a recent letter stated that in order to assist in conserving the food supply he had canned 311 cans of fish during the last fishing season, which consisted of sockeye salmon, pink salmon, smoked salmon, San Juan sardines, grayfish, and salmon caviar. Upon examination by the Bureau of Fisheries, samples of his canned fish were found to be of high quality and to compare favorably with commercial products of a similar character. Herbert Hoover, U.S. Food Administrator, in a letter to the Secretary of Commerce concerning Mr. Borchers, stated, “The evidence he has produced of what can be accomplished ‘where raw material swims past the door’ is very unusual, in view of the amount of work which I know is necessary for a light keeper to perform in the course of his regular duties. The Department has commended Mr. Borchers for his efforts to increase the food supply and hopes that others will profit by this good example.” [Author’s note: It is important to remember; this was during World War I, when providing food to the European allies and to our American troops was of great concern.]

Storm Damage – The northeast storm of April 10 to 12 caused considerable damage in the third and fourth lighthouse districts. At Coney Island, N.Y. the north corner of the reservation was cut away, and the fog signal house fell into the water, but all of the apparatus was finally recovered. At Barnegat Light Station, N.J., extensive damage to the water front occurred during the storm which cut out a space of 20 feet between the shore end of the stone jetty and the reservation. At Cape Henlopen Light Station, Del., the long bulkhead built there in 1914 was destroyed. The sea then attacked the hill on which the tower stands and washed away a considerable portion of the base of the hill. At Harbor of Refuge and Brandywine Shoal Stations, Del., the sea broke into the basements of the towers, flooded the same, and moved heavy riprap about and caused leaks in various parts of the structures.

Method of Placing Riprap – A method of placing riprap has been tried out in the third lighthouse district at West Bank light station and Centerville Light which has given good results. It differs from the usual method of depositing riprap loosely and at random in that the stones are regularly laid and well packed. The West Bank tower is supported by a cast iron pier filled with mass concrete and was originally protected by a deposit of loose riprap, which in the course of time has been leveled, under the action of the elements, and no longer protects the pier at the water line. The present deposit consists of an outer mass of heavy stones weighing from 200 pounds to six tons, each regularly placed and well packed in the form of an annular ring with sloping sides inside and out, the outside presenting a smooth surface to the sea and ice. The inner space was filled with smaller (one man) stones which have a tendency to pack tightly around the pier and support it. The flat top of the mass is six feet above high water. Both structures withstood well the unusual ice conditions of the past winter.

Assistance Rendered By A Lighthouse Tender – On February 3, the tender Zizania, while in the vicinity of Rockland, Me., was requested to proceed to Vinal Haven with mail, passengers, and provisions, that town having been shut off from all sources of supplies upward of 11 days. The tender received 43 sacks of mail, 3 tons of freight, and 20 passengers and proceeded to Vinal Haven and took aboard 36 passengers, 24 sacks of mail, and about 1 ton of freight, then proceeded back to Rockland. On the return trip the tender picked up a disabled lobster boat which had 4,000 live lobsters on board, and towed it to Rockland. The tender then proceeded to the assistance of a schooner which was jammed in the ice in the bay and moving seaward.

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

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2021 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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