Digest>Archives> Nov/Dec 2018

Wickie’s Wisdom

We Are at a Crossroads in Lighthouse History

By Timothy Harrison


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Ile Aux Galet Lighthouse Michigan.

This past year I was honored with several awards, one of them being the prestigious “Modern Day Light Keeper Award” from the National Lighthouse Museum. Although I am appreciative and humbled by the award, the vast majority of those in attendance at the award presentation event have never been subscribers to Lighthouse Digest. And, to the best of my knowledge, the event did not garner any new subscriptions to the magazine. This I find troubling.

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Ile Aux Galet lighthouse buildings being blown up.

The National Lighthouse Museum award will join the other awards in my display case – awards and commendations that I have received over the past 25 years from numerous lighthouse groups and government agencies. I have to admit, they look pretty impressive in the display case, and while I appreciate the honor and recognition, a different kind of support is what is needed today.

As our older subscribers die off and are not being replaced by the same number of new and younger subscribers, I am beginning to wonder how many of the following generations of people are even aware of what we at Lighthouse Digest have accomplished in the past 27 years and continue to accomplish in researching and saving our lighthouse history and the photographs associated with them for this and future generations.

The facts are clear – the history of the United States Lighthouse Service and the Coast Guard era of lighthouse keeping literally binds all lighthouses together in a common thread in many more ways than one – and much of it is now in danger of being lost forever.

The majority of the younger generation has not shown the same passion for lighthouse history that once was, and some of the older generation also seemed to have lost their way when it comes to lighthouse history, and they only care about beautiful photos of lighthouses. Of course there are many lighthouse groups who do care about the overall history of lighthouses and the people who once lived at them, but in many cases, even their numbers are dwindling. Also, there are those lighthouses groups whose officers know very little lighthouse history and only want a copy of Lighthouse Digest if there is a story about “their” lighthouse in it. This is sad. And, as we are now at a crossroads in lighthouse history, we all must to work to change this.

As we are again faced with another postage rate increase, as well as the ever-increasing cost of printing, not to mention the enormous cost of in-depth research to locate old photographs and hidden away documents and memories, we really are at a crossroads in lighthouse history. We literally have hundreds of stories and photographs that have never been published, and we uncover more and more every week. Not only do they need to be published and told, they all need to be saved in a public-accessible, master, searchable online database for future generations.

We also recognize that with the broad interests of Americans, especially in these divisive times, fewer and fewer people are inclined to read anything of substance. That’s why, as we mentioned in the last issue, we are creating a new nonprofit called the Lighthouse History Research Institute, not only to preserve what we have accomplished, but also to carry forward our mission of continuing to research our nation’s lighthouse history to be published and saved for this and all future generations.

We are forever thankful to those who have already made donations to the cause, but we have a long way to go, and this can only be accomplished with your help. We really have reached a Crossroads in Lighthouse History. We need your help. Please consider making a donation today.

Lighthouse Digest Research & Publication Fund

P.O. Box 250

East Machias, ME 04630


This story appeared in the Nov/Dec 2018 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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