Digest>Archives> May 2006

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower


Cedar Point Photo Needed

We’re looking for a photograph of the Cedar Point Pierhead Lighthouse that once stood near Menominee, Michigan. If anyone can send us a duplicate photo, we’d appreciate your help. Send to Editor, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630 or email a high resolution photo to editor@LighthouseDigest.com.

Erosion Control at Cape Lookout

The government is dredging up sand from a shoal, northeast of Shackleford Banks and depositing it on the north and south sides of the dock at North Carolina’s Cape Lookout Lighthouse. This is being done in hopes to keep the lighthouse from collapsing due to an ever-changing shoreline by the lighthouse.

Ohio USCG Station

The abandoned Coast Guard Station at the western end of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio could soon be a bed-and-breakfast or a museum. The city of Cleveland, Ohio, which now owns the old station is considering a number of plans for the station. Being considered are a museum on Great Lakes and Coast Guard history, a restaurant and museum with banquet facilities, to an open-air interior surrounded by trees and walkways.

Cruise the St. Mary’s River

The DeTour Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society is offering a Father’s Day Cruise on the St. Mary’s River. The day trip departs from DeTour Village in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, will take you offshore of the DeTour Reef Lighthouse, up the river, through the famous Soo Locks with great views of lighthouses, beautiful scenery and freighters. Cost is $90 per person, which benefits the lighthouse, and includes snacks, lunch, prizes and cash bar. FMI or reservations, call (906) 297-6051 or (906) 493-6609 or visit their website at www.DRLPS.com or email: aestafford@lighthouse.net.

USCG Arms the Great Lakes

All of the nearly one dozen Coast Guard Cutters operating on the Great Lakes are now armed with big guns. Other than small arms, this is the first time since World War II that the cutters have been armed. This has upset some people who feel that the heavy armament is not necessary to fight terrorism on the Great Lakes, with some even citing concerns about the environmental impact. However, the Coast Guard feels that all American waterways need to be secured as a terrorist attack can happen anywhere.

Mukilteo celebrates 100 - You’re Invited to the Party

Washington State’s Mukilteo Lighthouse is celebrating its centennial. The celebration kicked off with a "100 Years of Light" special opening ceremony at the lighthouse on April 1. However, the big celebration will take place on Saturday, August 12. Events will include the "Great Lighthouse Hunt 2006," a Keepers’ Kin Get-together, children’s activities and more. This summer, the lighthouse will host band concerts at the lighthouse at 5:30pm on June 2, July 14, August 4 and August 25. For more information, contact them at (425) 513-9602 or email: info@mukilteohistorical.org.

Currituck Battle Continues

The biggest travesty in the American justice system continues to go unchecked and unstopped. Currituck County officials filed suit in federal court against the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and the Outer Banks Conservationists over zoning control at the Currituck Lighthouse. The deed to the lighthouse given to the Outer Banks Conservationists states that the site be available for education, park, recreation, cultural or historic preservation for the general public, something the Currituck County officials are trying to stop, claiming the lighthouse is in violation of county zoning ordinances because it operates as a museum. The County says they will be happy to drop the lawsuit if the lighthouse is given to them and taken away from the nonprofit group that spent years restoring it, keeping it open to the public and paid for part of the cost for the public washrooms built near the site. This is a true case of American jurisprudence gone haywire. I will never understand how the federal Department of Justice has allowed this travesty to continue and I wonder how long the Outer Banks Conservationists can hold out financially in the battle to keep the lighthouse.

Fund-Raising Lighthouse Stolen

A 2,000-pound, 14-foot high, bright red lighthouse, eight feet octagon in diameter was recently stolen from behind the Home Depot in Muskegon, Michigan. The lighthouse, built with the help of Home Depot employees and $3,500 in donated material, was to be used as an auction item to help raise money for Volunteer Muskegon Projects that do not otherwise receive funding. A couple of weeks after the theft, a tip led police to a Muskegon residence where the lighthouse was found in the backyard. Police said the lighthouse had been placed on skids and dragged by a car to the home. Volunteer Muskegon did not press charges because $500 in restitution for damage to the lighthouse was paid and the individuals responsible are mentally and physically challenged.

Dog Saved

This past March, a dog fell off the Grand Haven, Michigan breakwater into the icy waters of Lake Michigan. Unable to reach the dog, its owner called 911. Rescue officials searched for the dog but eventually gave him up for dead. However, the next day, people walking on the beach heard the dog’s yelps for help. They found him in an area of the south breakwater where a hole had been created when the Coast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw had slammed into the breakwater last December. The hole was just large enough for the dog to take refuge in. Who could have imagined that an accident that caused the captain of the icebreaker his job would lead to saving the life of a dog. I guess that proves that everything happens for a reason.

200th Anniversary of Little Gull Island

Preliminary plans call for a celebration honoring the 200th anniversary of New York’s Little Gull Island Lighthouse. For more information, contact East End Lighthouses, P.O. Box 21, Greenport, NY 11944 or call them at (631) 477-4121.

Help Needed to Locate Photos

We are looking for photographs of the following people -Charles C. Brush and Capt. Carl E. Sherman, both of whom were superintendents of the First Lighthouse District and Thomas Sampson who was an assistant superintendent of the U.S. Lighthouse Service from 1923-35 and perhaps beyond. Sampson was also a member of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers. Also of great interest would be photos, memories and stories about Elder M. Jordan, keeper at Portland Head Light from 1861 to 1869 and William Lockhard who was keeper at Portland Head Light from 1946 to 1950. If any of our readers can help us, please send to Editor, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630 or email: editor@LighthouseDigest.com.

Burnt Coat Island Lighthouse Photos Needed

For a possible future story, we are looking for photographs of lighthouse keepers who served at Maine’s Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse, which is known as Hockamock Head or Swans Island Lighthouse. We are also looking for a photograph of the tower when the paint was sandblasted off the tower in 1983, leaving the tower’s natural brick color exposed. It was decided later to again paint the tower white. If any of our readers can help us, please send to Editor, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630 or email: editor@LighthouseDigest.com.

Old Obit

In the October issue, we wrote about an obituary that we found that mentioned William Stevens worked for the U.S. Lighthouse Service. However, we could not find a record of him being a lighthouse keeper. Since he spent most of his life in South Portland, Maine, we had to assume that he worked at the old lighthouse depot. Sue Mack, a genealogist, wrote that she found out in her research that his occupation was a laborer in the mason industry. This could mean that he worked in maintaining lighthouses doing repairs, etc., which would make sense since the Lighthouse Service did employee people to do that type of work.

International Lighthouse Conference

This is to remind everyone again about the International Lighthouse Conference to be held in Southampton, Ontario, Canada this coming June 1-4. There is still time for you to register online at www.chantryisland.com where you can also view the conference program and speakers’ bios. There will be 16 lectures and three film presentations, plus the chance to see three range lights and the 100-foot Imperial Tower on Chantry Island. There will also be a concert by two times Canadian Folk Singer of the Year - Valdy. The conference is open to anyone with an interest in lighthouses. Full conference cost is only $100 Canadian, plus the cost of lodging, etc. For more information, call (866) 797-5862.

Saving Rhode Island’s North Light

Architects, engineers, Coast Guard, preservation officials and others recently met at the lighthouse which is located on Block Island to determine the future direction of the upcoming restoration project.

Archival Lighthouse Photos Lost

Many historic archival photos of lighthouses were stored in cabinets on the main floor of the Coast Guard Headquarters in New Orleans. We are all too familiar with the damage caused by the hurricane. The water came up to the ceiling on the first floor. It was impossible to save anything and it was simply shoveled out and disposed. This is one more reason why duplicate photos must be saved of everything at different locations. Hopefully, more duplicates of historic photos will be sent to us. We will duplicate them again and then, there will be three locations where historic photos can be saved. But we can’t do it without your help. Along these lines, we’d like to thank Dale Congdon, who wrote the book, The Light on Agate Bay, for sending us a number of photographs of lighthouse keepers who served at Two Harbors, Minnesota.

Pipe Island For Sale

According to the website www.PrivateIslandsOnLine.com, Michigan’s 13-acre Pipe Island, along with its well-maintained Pipe Island Lighthouse, is for sale. The asking price is $2.2 million. The island is now run as a type of B&B and does have deed restrictions. If any of our readers can help supply any type of historical information on the lighthouse, we’d appreciate hearing from you at editor@LighthouseDigest.com or by mail to Editor, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630.

Huntington Harbor’s Lost History

We are looking for historical information and memories of the lighthouse keepers who served at New York’s Huntington Harbor Lighthouse, as well as photographs of the keepers who served at the lighthouse. If you can help, we’d appreciate hearing from you at editor@LighthouseDigest.com or by mail to Editor, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630.

Mile Rock’s Lost History

Another lighthouse, which seems to have an elusive history, is Mile Rock Lighthouse in California’s San Francisco Bay. We’d love to locate photographs and memories of keepers who served at the historic lighthouse such as Keeper Thomas J. Sauer. If you can help, we’d love to hear from you.

Drunk Captain Nearly Rams Lightship

A Romanian cargo ship nearly rammed the East Goodwin Lightship in the English Channel. The ship came within a few feet of the historic vessel and could easily have sunk it. Minutes after nearly ramming the lightship, the cargo vessel slammed into a sand bar. This proves once again the dangerous duty of lightships. The 45-year old captain of 5,000-ton ship pleaded guilty to being drunk while at the helm of a ship. He was sentenced to a minimum of seven months in jail.

Coast Guard City Declared

Alameda, California has been declared as "Coast Guard City," in a proclamation delivered by Rear Admiral Kevin J. Eldridge. It is the highest honor the Coast Guard bestows on a city. Only six other cities have been given that honor by the Coast Guard. They are Eureka, California; Grand Haven, Michigan; Morgan City, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Wilmington, North Carolina; and Newport, Rhode Island.

Washington Lights Quilt

The Washington Lightkeepers Association has created a beautiful lighthouse quilt that they are raffling off as a fund-raiser. Raffle tickets are only $1 each and you can buy as many as you want. They can be ordered from Washington Lightkeepers Association, P.O. Box 984, Seabeck, WA 98380.

Touchstone To Make "The Lighthouse"

Touchstone Pictures has acquired what is called a claustrophobic thriller, The Lighthouse, by Dean DeBlois. The story is set off the coast of Brittany in the English Channel where a lighthouse sits on a piece of rock and the keepers live in isolation for months at a time. When a man arrives to automate the lighthouse, he meets two brothers who have been there for years and he begins to unravel their dark secrets.

Petit Manan Goes to Fish & Wildlife

Petit Manan Lighthouse, Maine’s second tallest, has been given to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and will become part of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The lighthouse had recently been excessed under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act and a number of nonprofits wanted to own the lighthouse. However, the lighthouse was pulled from the process and given to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, since the structure is within the bounds of the refuge. This has concerned some lighthouse preservationists, saying that not only did it circumvent the process but also other lighthouses now cared for by nonprofits could have ‘their’ lighthouse taken away from them, even though they raised the money and spent years to restore it.

Philippines’ Lights In Danger

Twenty four lighthouses in the Philippines are in danger of being destroyed because the Philippine Coast Guard simply does not have the money to care for them. In an effort to save the lighthouse, Ms. Ross Harper has founded a group called Adopt-a-Lighthouse Foundation in an attempt to save the historic beacons. We’ll try to follow this effort and keep you posted in future issues.

This story appeared in the May 2006 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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