Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2015

Wickie’s Wisdom

Thirty Beacons of Light

By Timothy Harrison


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In his effort to save lighthouses and lighthouse ...

This past December, in honor of the completion of their 30th year, the United States Lighthouse Society, founded by former Coast Guardsman Wayne Wheeler, came out with what I would classify as a ‘Special Edition’ of their quarterly scholarly publication The Keeper’s Log.

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This edition of The Keeper’s Log contained lengthy articles titled: History of the United States Lighthouse Society, The Founders Story, History of the United States Lighthouse Service, History of Fog Bells, and History of the Life-Saving Service. Also, in a ten page article titled “Thirty Beacons of Light,” they wrote about the top thirty “Beacons of Light” that have helped guide lighthouse preservation through the years. In a noble move on their part, their honorees did not include any individual citations for members of the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s board or its 30-year founder and President, Wayne Wheeler. They stated that their results were based in part on surveys conducted nationwide and of their own research and knowledge. They said that their “criterion was simple: choosing who or what made an impact on America’s lighthouse legacy and helped pass that legacy along to future generations.” They went on to say that the list was large, but the final selection was chosen by vote and discussion for the “Thirty Beacons of Light.”

Then they devoted a few paragraphs to each person, organization, or policy that was chosen. Those were: The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, The United States Lighthouse Society, Key Keepers, The United States Coast Guard, The National Park Service, The Great Lakes Lighthouse Keeper’s Association, The Maine Lighthouse Museum, The Lampists, Lighthouse Engineers, Authors and Artwork, The Outer Banks Lighthouse Society, The Ponce De Leon Lighthouse & Museum, The Lighthouse Bicentennial Fund, State Associations, Boston Lighthouse, Grosse Point Lighthouse, New Canal Lighthouse, Split Rock Lighthouse and Periodicals and Electronic Media, which included the print publications of The Keeper’s Log, Lighthouse Digest and The Beacon.

Although there are lots of people mentioned in those various categories, only five people were signaled out in the key positions of the “Thirty Beacons of Light.” They are: the late Ken Black, founder of the Maine Lighthouse Museum; Tim Harrison, editor of Lighthouse Digest; Richard Moehl, who served for nearly 30 years as president of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keeper’s Association; the late Cullen Chambers former director of the Tybee Island Lighthouse; and J. Candace Clifford, lighthouse research specialist and author. Although I am not in this for the awards or acclamations; it is truly wonderful to be honored by one’s peers and I am humbled for having been selected.

However, the one person who really needs to be honored above all is Wayne Wheeler who took a gigantic chance when he left his Coast Guard job to start the U.S. Lighthouse Society. Also to be honored are the members of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, whose loyalty and devotion to Wayne’s vision of creating a quarterly journal, creating an extensive library and archives, to act as a clearing house for others, and to secure artifacts so that they can be saved for future generations, helped keep the organization going strong for 30 years. Also, to be honored are the many dedicated volunteers who filled in all the gaps that helped bring everything together for the benefit of all.

As Lighthouse Digest enters its 23th year, we thank Wayne Wheeler and the U.S. Lighthouse Society for leading the way.

Timothy Harrison

Editor & Publisher

Lighthouse Digest

P.O. Box 250

East Machias, ME 04630


This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2015 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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