News

Refurbishing of Piedras Blancas (CA) lens to begin soon

The original First-order Fresnel lens and clockwork mechanism from Piedras Blancas Lighthouse are on display next to the Veteran’s Memorial Building in Cambria, California.  The lens is on loan from the Coast Guard to the Cambria Lions Club. A glass enclosure was built to house the lens and clockwork in 1996.

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The Piedras Blancas lens on display in Cambria, photographed by Jeremy D’Entremont in April 2015.

Jim Woodward, one of the leading Fresnel lens experts in the United States, has prepared for the Piedras Blancas Light Station Association a detailed 10-page report on the condition of the lens and the building that houses it.  Soon, Woodward will clean the lens’s upper prisms. Volunteers, under his supervision, will assist with the more easily accessed prisms. Work is scheduled to begin in early December.

Click here to read more about this story in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

 

 

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. You can receive these posts via email if you click on the “SUBSCRIBE” button in the right-hand column. Please support this electronic newsletter by joining the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy at nelights@gmail.com.

News

“Lighthouses of America” book wins gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America

NMS_3437Lighthouses of America by Tom Beard was awarded a Gold Medal for best Pictorial/Coffee Table Book by the Military Writers Society of America on November 10.

The MWSA review by Sandi Cowper included the following:

“Lighthouses of America is fascinating and would be a welcome addition to any library or coffee table.  The book teases the reader to seek these treasures out and visit first-hand.  It is the perfect gift for those who love the sea and all things nautical, and even for those who will just want to appreciate their unique history and beauty.”

Click here for more information and to buy the book.

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. You can receive these posts via email if you click on the “SUBSCRIBE” button in the right-hand column. Please support this electronic newsletter by joining the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy at nelights@gmail.com.

News

Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association (Michigan) looking for volunteer “keepers”

Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association (SPLKA), a non-profit organization, manages three historic lighthouses within a thirty-mile stretch of Lake Michigan’s shoreline.  Since 1987, members of SPLKA have worked tirelessly to restore, preserve, and make these lighthouses accessible.  SPLKA also operates a Volunteer Keepers program, which allows its members the opportunity to live and work at the lighthouses free of charge during a seven-month season, from May to October.

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Big Sable Point Lighthouse, 2007. U.S. Lighthouse Society archives.

SPLKA is currently seeking individuals to assist with its volunteer resident keeper program in 2019. Volunteers help the non-profit organization operate Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Little Sable Point Lighthouse, White River Light Station, and Ludington North Breakwater Lighthouse.

Clean and comfortable accommodations are offered free of charge within houses in Ludington State Park and Silver Lake State Park grounds. One week and two week tours are available, May through October.

Applications for membership and for the Lighthouse Keeper program are available on the SPLKA web site at www.splka.org. To learn more about the program email splkaoperations@gmail.com or call Rachel Bendele at 231-845-7417.

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. You can receive these posts via email if you click on the “SUBSCRIBE” button in the right-hand column. Please support this electronic newsletter by joining the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy at nelights@gmail.com.

News

Journals of Florida’s Keeper Thomas Patrick O’Hagan, Part 1

During recent renovations to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum’s administration building which resulted in additional space for our artifacts collection, I uncovered a pile of moldy, partly moth-eaten journals wrapped in twine.  They are unsigned, but contain, I am sure, the hand-written memoirs of Thomas Patrick O’Hagan, the Mosquito — later Ponce — Inlet Lighthouse’s second principal keeper (1893-1905) and principal keeper at Amelia Island Lighthouse (1905-1925).  Leafing through the books, the names, dates, locations, and wonderful recollections – it’s got to be Keeper O’Hagan. Written in five school composition books, O’Hagan, who served at many other Fifth and Sixth District stations in his almost fifty-year career, had some interesting stories to share about his life at the six very different lighthouses, and through his contacts and his family, other stations. I have transcribed the first “chapter” for you.  As a side note, the O’Hagan family has graciously shared with us at here at Ponce Inlet Lighthouse many other family keepsakes, mementoes and pictures. They also have done several extensive oral histories. T.P.’s handwriting is difficult to decipher, and the pages are somewhat brittle after all these years, but I will do the best I can. From time to time, I will take a crack at other sections of these journals.

— John F. Mann, Lead Docent, Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum   

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Four men in U.S. Lighthouse Service uniforms in front of the Amelia Island Lighthouse, circa 1924.  From left, Joseph O’Hagan, David O’Hagan, Thomas Patrick O’Hagan, and Thomas John O’Hagan. (Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Collection.)

March 13, 1927.

It’s a perfect spring morning on the porch of my new little house down the lane from the Amelia Island Lighthouse.  The station, located in Fernandina Beach, is just south of the St. Mary’s River, really on the border of Georgia to the north, and the beginning of the east coast of Florida.  Now, there’s an interesting story in and of itself. The Amelia Island Lighthouse started its service only a few miles to the north on Cumberland Island in Georgia and then got moved and rebuilt here to Florida.  I’ll get to that soon enough.

My son, Thomas John, and his wife, Helen, have been after me of late to write my story, and he says now is the perfect time to do so.  I think he just wants me to keep myself busy and out of his hair. For forty-nine years, I never really had the chance to write anything other than keeping the log, making supply requisitions, and posting correspondence to the District Office in Charleston.  Now that Thomas John has taken over Amelia, and doing a fine job just like I taught him, he nags at me to take pen in hand before I forget it all.  So, let me begin.

Let me tell you a little about myself.  Until two years ago I was the Principal Keeper here at Amelia Island, the oldest tower in Florida.  My wife, Julia, passed away in 1915. She and I had twelve children. Two of our sons, Thomas and David, are lighthouse keepers and a third, Joseph, served as a mate aboard a U.S. Lighthouse Tender and also on several lightships.  Now, I’m not one to fly my own kite, but I don’t think anyone else in the Lighthouse Service can say that four men in one family were on the job, all at once! Actually, five in one family, but not all at the same time, if you count my oldest brother John who served as an assistant at the Morris Island Lighthouse in Charleston and managed Charleston’s Harbor lights for thirty years until he drowned off Sullivan’s Island in 1909.  You know, now that I’m thinking about it, I should mention that I’m also related by marriage to Amos Latham, and his son, George. Amos was the head keeper for this tower when it was in Georgia, and came with it when it was moved here to Amelia. George was also keeper here at Amelia before the War to Preserve the Union. The Latham’s were on Julia’s mother’s side.

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Thomas Patrick on porch of principal keeper’s residence at Amelia Island, 1923. (Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Collection.)

I was born in the City of Brooklyn, New York, on January 10, 1859 to Denis and Mariah Corr O’Hagan who married and emigrated together from Ireland to Liverpool to New York arriving on September 2, 1850 on the ship, West Point.  They had lived all their lives in Tullyniskan Parish, County Tyrone, in the north of Ireland. Like many others, The Great Hunger drove them from the land. I had two brothers and a sister. A few years after I was born, we moved to a farm in New Jersey.   For some reason, my father took my brothers, John and William, back to Ireland and they attended school while he worked as a stone mason on a cathedral. When they returned, we all moved south and settled in the Charleston area. When she comes to visit my house, I love telling my little granddaughter, Helen, about me growing up on a farm and milking 18 cows before dawn.  Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly eighteen, and maybe it was a little later than dawn, and maybe I helped with the pails and didn’t really milk them.

I joined the Bureau of Lighthouses at seventeen years as a part-time, assistant keeper at Hunting Island, South Carolina, starting the year of our Nation’s Centennial.  Two years later, I was appointed Keeper at Fort Ripley Shoals. Both stations are near Charleston. Also in 1878, Julia Catherine Schuppe and I married at Star of the Sea Catholic Church on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, and soon after we moved to the big, old, fine First Assistant’s house at the Morris Island Lighthouse.  We stayed at Morris Island for nine years. In July of 1887, we moved to Georgetown Lighthouse, south of Myrtle Beach, where the first four of our children, Mary Jane, Charlotte, Irene and Thomas John were born. In December of 1893, I swapped jobs with William Rowlinski, and became Head Keeper at the Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse, and he went to Georgetown as keeper.

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Amelia Island Lighthouse, 2018. (Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Collection.)

Seven more of our children, Julia, Agnes, William, Edith, Joseph, James and David were born at Mosquito Station.  Speaking of that, my son David’s middle name is Cowie. We named after Doctor Cowie of New Smyrna. Yes, I rowed cross the inlet and down river in the station launch to get the doctor, in all kinds of weather, in order for him to look after Julia during difficult childbirths.  There was a nurse who helped for the others. Her name was Miss Agony. We laughed about that, but she was a good soul.

In September of 1905, we packed up our brood, and old Bessie our cow, and took the train up to the Amelia Island Light. When I retired Thomas John took over, and David became his assistant keeper that same year.  The Bureau must have liked my work, because the week that I retired they put out a very complimentary bulletin to all stations and said I was meritorious. I didn’t think I did anything special, any other keeper wouldn’t do.

Well, I have more than a few stories to share over an almost fifty years of a job, and a good one at that, but I guess I better close now and get another glass of lemonade.  Plus, my hand hurts from all the writing. Helen says it’s the arthritis.

News

Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse (Maine) restored

Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors drive to Sohier Park in York, Maine, to view the postcard-perfect light station across a few hundred feet of water on its rocky outpost, the island known as the Nubble. Few visitors every actually get onto the Nubble, adding to its mystery.

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Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light Station on November 8, 2018, shortly after restoration was completed. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

The buildings at the 1879 light station underwent the first major restoration in many years this past summer and fall. The $238,000 overhaul was paid for largely with funds raised from merchandise sales in the gift shop at the welcome center in Sohier Park. The Town of York owns and manages the park and the lighthouse, while the Coast Guard continues to maintain the light and fog signal as active aids to navigation.

The work was carried out by the J.B. Leslie Company of South Berwick, Maine. Completion was delayed by a few weeks by rough seas caused by bad weather, but town officials were so impressed that Jim Leslie and crew will be the special guests at the “Lighting of the Nubble” event on November 26, when the lighthouse and other buildings will be illuminated with Christmas lights.

Click here to read more about the restoration and the Lighting of the Nubble event in the Bangor Daily News.

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. You can receive these posts via email if you click on the “SUBSCRIBE” button in the right-hand column. Please support this electronic newsletter by joining the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy at nelights@gmail.com.

News

A visit to Wind Point Lighthouse, Racine, Wisconsin

There’s a really nice story today by Bobby Tanzilo on OnMilwaukee.com describing a visit to Wind Point Lighthouse, one of the tallest and oldest lighthouses on Lake Michigan. As he points out, “The former keepers’ quarters house the Village Hall and the local police department, and the grounds are a popular park destination for residents and visitors, who also, of course, are eager to scale the tower’s 144 swirling iron steps to the top.”

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Undated photo of Wind Point Lighthouse, National Archives photo 26-LG-58-28

Click here to read the story.

Click here to visit the homepage for Wind Point Lighthouse.

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. You can receive these posts via email if you click on the “SUBSCRIBE” button in the right-hand column. Please support this electronic newsletter by joining the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy at nelights@gmail.com.

News

Rob Gilpin honored for restoration of Block Island North Lighthouse (RI)

Rob Gilpin, who has long spearheaded the restoration of Rhode Island’s Block Island North Lighthouse as the chair of the North Light Commission, was the recipient of the Antoinette Downing Volunteer Service Award from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission on Sunday, Oct. 21.

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Rob Gilpin at the Block Island North Lighthouse in October 2005. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

Architect Walter Sedovic stated that Gilpin is, essentially, “the keeper of the North Light. He can do so many things: energy systems, lighting, color, building maintenance and management, efficiencies, historical attributes of the building, the relationship of the building to the immediate environment, and then presenting all of this to people in a way that touches them. He puts a human face on this lighthouse and on so many things that he touches. He makes them human.”

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Block Island North Lighthouse in September 2016. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

You can read more about this story on the Block Island Times website by clicking here.

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. You can receive these posts via email if you click on the “SUBSCRIBE” button in the right-hand column. Please support this electronic newsletter by joining the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy at nelights@gmail.com.