Digest>Archives> Sep/Oct 2019

Wickie’s Wisdom

Help save the photographic history of lighthouses!

By Timothy Harrison


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This is Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Head Keeper ...

The recent fire that virtually destroyed the famous Notre Dame Cathedral demonstrated how the world community was brought together through the massive amounts of media coverage that it received. One man on the streets of Paris told a reporter that the tragedy was like losing a member of the family. Almost immediately thousands of people pledged donations that totaled a whopping $675 million.

Why did so many people pledge so much? In my humble opinion, it is because it is something that they could see and touch, similar to when groups try to raise money to save a lighthouse that was built many generations ago. You can see it. You can touch it.

But what about the history, photographs, and memories of the people who lived at the lighthouses? What about the people who built the lighthouses and even those behind the scenes who made it all happen?

If we were able to predict and tell you that a fire next month would destroy every one of the thousands of photographs and recorded memories of life at our nation’s lighthouses that have yet to be rediscovered, would we be swamped with pledges and donations?

This issue is packed with photographs that have never been published before, some of which we have brought to your attention in these pages with an “exclusive” icon after the caption, not to mention all the information in many of the stories, most of which also has not been published before.

For the most part, we don’t just go to a file cabinet and open up a drawer and all the information is there. If only it were that easy! It takes months of research, hours of work reading and sifting through old documents and genealogy, hundreds of phone calls and emails. For example, one single lighthouse keeper photograph published in this issue took days of work and 37 phone calls just to locate the one and only descendant who had the photo in an old family album. This is not an unusual occurrence for our stories. And, there are thousands more descendants to be contacted and photographs to be found.

Our nation was built through the diversity of our people, many of whom were associated with our historic lighthouses. The common thread that ties all lighthouses, those still standing and those that are no longer standing, is a shared concept of equal treatment for all. Why? Because lighthouses stand for everything that is good - they were built for one purpose only– to save the lives of all and now it’s our turn to save their history and the photographs and memories associated with them.

Subscriptions, renewals, and our advertisers only cover a small portion of the cost of research and archiving. We urgently need your donations now to continue our mission of publishing and saving the photographic history and stories of the people associated with lighthouses, and perhaps, if nothing else, as a reminder to the next generations that one day we will finally live as one for the benefit of all.

Please, make a tax-deductible donation to:

Lighthouse History Research Institute (LHRI)

P.O. Box 250

East Machias, Maine 04630


Timothy Harrison

Editor & Publisher

Lighthouse Digest

This story appeared in the Sep/Oct 2019 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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