Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2022

From the Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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 Issue Number 27, dated March 1914, 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.”

Conference of Lighthouse Inspectors – Conferences of lighthouse inspectors were held at the Bureau’s office in Washington during the month. These were the first conferences of inspectors ever held; the holding of such conferences was recommended in October 1913 by the Commissioner of Lighthouses, and authorized by the Secretary of Commerce. The inspectors of the three river districts met on February 3 and 4; and the inspectors of the coast and lakes districts met February 9 to 14, inclusive, the last day of which was spent at the general lighthouse depot, Tompkinsville, N.Y. Matters of general benefit to the Lighthouse Service were discussed, in accordance with a prearranged plan, and it is believed that the results of the conferences will be of advantage to the service.

Official Flags – On February 20, 1914, the department authorized a flag for lighthouse inspectors to be shown at the mainmast head of tenders when the inspector is aboard, in his discretion. The flag is white, with a blue border, and a blue lighthouse in the center, as shown in the sketch below.

Flags authorized of other officers, to be displayed at the mainmast when such officers are on board tenders, have the following descriptions:

Secretary of Commerce – A blue flag bearing a full-rigged ship in blue over a lighthouse in blue in a white shield in the center of the flag, with a five-pointed white star in each corner of the flag.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce – A white flag of the same pattern as the Secretary except that the colors are reversed.

Commissioner of Lighthouses – A blue flag with a white triangle bearing a blue lighthouse.

Only one flag, that of the senior officer present, is to be shown on the mainmast at one time. The Lighthouse Service flag will be hoisted at the foremast head on occasions of ceremony, and at other times as authorized in department circular of July 22, 1913, when the national ensign is shown, and is the same as in former years, a white triangular flag with a red border bearing a blue lighthouse.

Experiments with Thermostats – Recent experiments made with a thermostat installed at the St. Johns River Light Station, Fla., similar to that mentioned on page 16 of the bureau’s annual report for 1913, indicate that it will give satisfactory warning in case of the breakage of the mantle of the light. As a test, after lighting up for the evening the keeper removed the mantle from the light for five minutes, and the temperature was raised from 190 degrees to 290 degrees, causing the alarm to ring.

New Type of Mantle Holder – A new type of mantle holder has recently been developed at the general lighthouse depot, Tompkinsville, N.Y., for the old-style incandescent oil vapor lamp known as the type A, by the use of which, with a slight increase in expenditure of oil, this type of lamp can be made to give candle- power equal to that of the new type B incandescent oil vapor lamp.

Reports Regarding Recent Storms – Report of Charles L. Swanberg, Master of Diamond Shoal Light Vessel No. 71, N.C., dated February 14, 1914.

I respectfully report to you that all day yesterday and all last night we had the heaviest S.E. gale that I have experienced here. About midnight she was breaking all over the ship. One sea came over and carried away the two wind leaders on the port side; the after one went overboard, but the forward one we managed to save. She broke in the two after engine-room skylights and broke off the after part of the forward railing and port side, but we managed to stay on station and the light and fog signals going all night. Everything that we are able to will be put in order. All is well on board.

Operations of the English Lighthouse Service – Considerable improvements have been made in the mechanism of submarine bells since they were introduced into the service in 1907. This system of signaling has been fitted on board 17 light vessels, and reports are frequently received expressing the appreciation with which these aids to navigation are regarded by the mariner.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2022 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.

All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.

to Lighthouse Digest

USLHS Marker Fund

Lighthouse History
Research Institute

Shop Online

Subscribe   Contact Us   About Us   Copyright Foghorn Publishing, 1994- 2024   Lighthouse Facts     Lighthouse History