Digest>Archives> June 2002

The Keeper Won’t be Coming Home

By Bob Trapani, Jr.

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Since 1906, a two-story, hip-roofed, clapboard keeper’s dwelling stood at the southwest corner of the Reedy Island Range Rear Light, near Taylor’s Bridge, Delaware. The structure’s unique construction included a porch designed with Tuscan columns - that was until the evening of April 6, 2002, when a mysterious fire of unknown origins claimed yet another irreplaceable piece of Delaware River and Bay lighthouse history.

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The fire consumed the dry-timbered keeper’s dwelling in a short period of time, as well as severely damaging the former brick oil house of the light station. The former keeper’s quarters and property is privately owned and had suffered from years of neglect and vandalism since being abandoned. Despite the lighthouse and former light station buildings being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1989, there was little anyone could do to save the keeper’s house due to the privatized ownership. Time and again fate demonstrates the painful lesson of just how fragile the country’s maritime heritage really is when such tragedies as this render a charred finality to the vanishing legacy of our lighthouse history.

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This story appeared in the June 2002 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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