Event · News · Preservation

Hooper Strait Marks 50 Years at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Hooper Strait MD 50th anniversary CBMM copy
The dedication of Hooper Strait Lighthouse at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum was led by Robert Burgesson May 20, 1967. Photo by William Edwin Booth. CBMM Collection.

Fifty years ago today, on May 20, 1967, the Hooper Strait Lighthouse opened to the public at its new home on the grounds of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, Maryland. The preceding November, it had been removed in two pieces from its original screwpile foundation, lifted onto a barge, and towed up the Chesapeake to St. Michaels. It was set on a new pipe foundation and restored after sitting unmanned for 12 years.

Hooper Strait 1972 move CBMM (1) copy
The Hooper Strait Lighthouse was moved to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in 1966, and dedicated on May 20, 1967. Photo by C.C. Harris. CBMM Collection.

Hooper Strait Lighthouse was automated in 1954 as part of the Coast Guard’s modernization program, and it was scheduled for demolition when the Museum’s founders stepped in, purchasing it from the demolition contractor at the last minute. It was the first lighthouse to be moved for preservation purposes.

Built in 1879, Hooper Strait was a classic low, screwpile lighthouse, a type once common on the Chesapeake Bay, where shoal waters and the soft bottom of the Bay made it necessary to locate navigational beacons away from the shore.
Hooper Strait Lighthouse, along with the Point Lookout bell tower and buyboat Winnie Estelle in 2017. Photo courtesy CBMM

Submitted by Bethany Ziegler and Pete Lesher, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, May 16, 2017

*    *    *    *

U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider 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 candace@uslhs.org.

Historic Images · Keepers · News

Little River Light Station Images Donated to Society Archives

The U.S. Lighthouse Society is pleased to receive a generous donation of these digital images of Little River Light Station, Maine, from Tim Harrison, editor of Lighthouse Digest.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lighthouse Digest has an amazing collection of historic images in its archives that have been gathered over the past 25 years. According to Harrison, “The Lighthouse Digest archives are not open to the public; however, low resolution images of many, but not all, of the Lighthouse Digest historic images can be found on their web site at www.LighthouseDigest.com. Depending on the reason, high resolution images can be requested via email, but there may be a small charge to cover the time involved.”

Little River ME 1892 USCGHO (6) copy
This scan of a 1892 photo of Little River Light Station is already part of the Society’s Digital Archives.The original print is part of the USCG Historian Office collections.

The Society has begun developing a database for their growing digital archives of photographs, architectural drawings, and historic documents. This catalog, comprised of a number of different collections, will eventually be available online. In the meantime items from the catalog are available to Society members  for preservation or educational purposes.

We are very pleased that these Little River Light Station images from the Lighthouse Digest will be included in this repository.

Submitted by Tim Harrison and Candace Clifford, May 18, 2017. 

*    *    *    *

U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider 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 candace@uslhs.org.

Event · Lifesaving Service · News · Preservation

Restoration of Amagansett Life-Saving Station Now Complete

Aman6
Courtesy of David Lys, ALSCGS

The Amagansett Life-Saving Station will be open to the public for the first time on May 20, 2017, for a Re-Commissioning Ceremony hosted by the Amangansett U.S. Life-Saving and U.S. Coast Guard Society (ALSCGS). The Station will be opening as a museum this summer.

Aman2This Quonchontaug-type station was built in East Hampton, New York, in 1902. It was the third station erected at this site. The original station was one of the first wave of stations erected on Long Island (NY) in 1849. It was replaced by an 1876-type station in 1876. The 1902 station remained in service until 1944, when it was decommissioned.

Aman4The station house remained abandoned until 1966 when the town wanted it removed from the beach. Joel Carmichael purchased the station for one dollar and moved it up onto the bluff above. There it remained a family residence until the death of Mr. Carmichael in 2006. The family then decided to give the station back to the town, and in 2007, it was moved back to the original location, in the dunes below the bluff off Atlantic Avenue. This move is the subject of Eileen Torpey’s documentary film, Ocean Keeper. Although in its original site, shifting sands placed it farther from the ocean than previously, thus it was better protected from the surf. Robert Hefner, East Hampton town’s historic preservation consultant, said that the architecture of the building remained largely intact.

Aman5
Courtesy of David Lys, ALSCGS
Aman7
Courtesy of David Lys, ALSCGS

The East Hampton Town Board tasked the Amagansett Life-Saving and Coast Guard Society, Inc. (ALSCGS) to raise the necessary funds to have a historic structure report on the building completed in 2011. This report guided the restoration process to return the station to its 1902 appearance. Exterior restoration was completed in 2014, and the interior in the spring of 2017.

The station will house a museum dedicated to the history of the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the U.S. Coast Guard in East Hampton, including the Nazi saboteur landing off Amagansett during World War II. It will also contain an administrative office for the East Hampton Town lifeguards.

The museum will be housed in the boat room. Already on display is a Beebe surfboat, the last one known to exist. Currently under construction is a replica carriage for this boat. Once this is finished the boat will undergo a complete restoration in nearby Greenport, New York, home of Frederick Beebe’s original boatyard. This surfboat, which spent its working life nearby at the New Shoreham station on Block Island, Rhode Island, is owned by the National Parks Service and is on loan to the ALSCGS. They are also seeking to obtain a McLellan-type beach apparatus, either on loan from a museum or by construction of a replica.

Submitted by David Lys, President, ALS&CGS, amagansettuslss@gmail.com

*    *    *    *

U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider 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 candace@uslhs.org.

Queries · Research · Small Craft · Society Members

Researching Small Craft

Small Craft for Lighthouse and Buoy-Tending Work;
A Lesser-Known Part of U.S. Lighthouse Service History
by Timothy Dring; CDR, USNR-Retired

shad fishing boat
Oar/sail powered Albemarle Sound shad fishing boat type typically assigned to the screwpile lighthouses of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. (Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office)

While there has been a lot of very fruitful historical research on the history of the lighthouses and personnel that have served the United States, much less is known about one aspect of U.S. Lighthouse Service history; that of their use of small craft for service at lighthouses and for buoy tending in protected waters. I hope to rectify this shortcoming in the research I am now engaged in, having already done this for the small craft used by the former U.S. Life-Saving Service and early Coast Guard. To achieve success in this effort, however, I need whatever assistance is available from the members of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, as the official record of these small craft is very sparse among the documents held by either the National Archives or the U.S. Coast Guard. My objective is to create as complete a descriptive record as possible of all the small craft used by the Lighthouse Service from the 1800s up to and through the period of its amalgamation into the Coast Guard.

In U.S. Lighthouse Service use, these small craft fell into three broad categories: 1) those assigned to individual lighthouses for use by the keeper; 2) those assigned to individual lighthouse tenders or lightships; and 3) those used by either depots or other support facilities for the purposes of tending the smaller buoys and fixed minor lights within a district. Within each of these categories, as you might expect, is the distinction between those boats that were only powered by oars and/or sails, and those that were powered by some type of marine engine.

Lighthouse Station Boats

swampscott rowing dory
Swampscott rowing dory of the type used at many New England region light stations. (Photograph courtesy of Jim Claflin)

With relatively few exceptions, most major lighthouses/light stations were assigned some type of small craft for use by the keeper, either for resupply trips, or occasionally for local rescue work. Initially, and continuing well into the early 1900s, these boats were of a size and design that allowed easy use by a single person as crew (i.e., the keeper), which meant that they were typically smaller 14- to 16-foot-long rowing skiffs or dories that may also have carried a small sailing rig. The type of small boat assigned to a lighthouse was usually based on the small boat types typically in use in the local area, such that a lighthouse keeper would already have some familiarity with its use. In addition, most boats assigned to lighthouses were sourced from the local commercial boatyards available in each district, rather than being supplied from a central source.

Many of the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina area screwpile type lighthouses were assigned a larger, combination rowing/sailing boat of a design that was derived from the famous Albemarle Sound shad fishing boat.

motor launch
22ft. long motor launch of a type assigned to a Great Lakes area lighthouse. (Photograph courtesy of Steve and Grace Truman)

Once reliable lightweight marine type engines were available in the early 1900s, most of the light stations were re-equipped with a motorboat; again of a design that was developed and built locally within each lighthouse district, and one that was usually larger than the older rowing/sailing boats.

Other than a few inspection reports for each lighthouse that included a description of the assigned small boats, very little documentation of these boats exists today. It is hoped that Lighthouse Society members may be able to provide information on the type of boat(s) assigned to their favorite lighthouses, especially if a photograph of the boat is available for sharing.

Lighthouse Tender/Lightship Boats

Monomoy type
23ft. long Monomoy type pulling surfboat assigned to tender Sassafras

Unlike the smaller sized boats typically assigned to a light station, those assigned to a lighthouse tender or a lightship were larger and more seaworthy. They served two purposes: one being its use as a work boat when transferring personnel and supplies to and from a lighthouse or for servicing a buoy, and the other its possible use as a lifeboat for the tender’s crew. As with the boats assigned to light stations, lighthouse tender/lightship boats started out as solely powered by oars and/or sail, with conversion over to or replacement by motorized models starting in the early 1900’s. Some tenders were also assigned a small steam-powered launch that could be operated independently in sheltered areas for the servicing of buoys and minor lights.

24ft. long motor cargo boat of the type assigned to tenders

Buoy-Tending Boats

Until the 1920s, the Lighthouse Service did not utilize any small craft that were designed and built specifically for tending the smaller lighted and unlighted buoys that were typically used to mark harbors and inland waterways. Instead, the service preferred to use the smaller harbor lighthouse tenders. This changed by the 1920s, and for the first time the service placed into service small boats (typically less than 60ft. in length) that were designed and built to service small buoys, including an A-frame derrick and well deck for the purposes of lifting buoys on and off the boat for servicing. These were day boats, i.e., without a permanent crew and with no accommodations for overnight operation. These buoy boats were usually assigned to the nearest depot, but were also sometimes assigned to a tender or to a larger light station that also doubled as a local buoy depot. By the World War II years, these boats were expanded in size and capability to provide more seaworthiness and, in some cases, onboard accommodations for the assigned crew.

38ft. buoy boat assigned to the buoy depot at Navesink Twin Lights in New Jersey. (Photograph courtesy of the Twin Lights Historical Society)

During the Lighthouse Service era, nearly all of the service’s boats were built by private commercial boat builders under contract either to an individual lighthouse district, or to the general depot at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York. This changed following the absorption of the Lighthouse Service into the Coast Guard in 1939, after which most of the service’s small craft were built by the Coast Guard’s Curtis Bay Depot in Maryland.

Unfortunately, nearly all of the construction and assignment records for light station, tender, or buoy boats have been lost or destroyed. Trying to reconstruct this part of the history is, therefore, very challenging, and depends very much on what documentary or photographic information is available from sources other than either the National Archives or the Coast Guard. This article serves as an appeal to the reader to assist in this research by sharing whatever you may have related to this topic, such as light station inspection reports, logbook entries, or photographs that may describe or show the small boats that were used at these Lighthouse Service facilities. Your assistance in this endeavor will be greatly appreciated.

Contact Tim via his email <timdringcghist@gmail.com>.

Submitted by Tim Dring, President, U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association and U.S. Lighthouse Society member, May 4, 2017.

*    *    *    *

U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider 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 candace@uslhs.org.

Exhibits · Fresnel lens · Keepers · News

Restoration of Point Reyes Lighthouse Lens

Bill Anderson and Mike Warren, along with Peter Crook (not pictured), have been trained in maintaining the lens at Point Reyes. They are part of a team that the park calls the Lighthouse Corps. All photos by Candace Clifford

On April 18th I had the pleasure of visiting the Point Reyes Light Station in Point Reyes National Seashore located on the Pacific Coast 35 miles north of San Francisco. This special tour was part of the annual Council of American Maritime Museums conference hosted by the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. One of the highlights of the tour was seeing the first-order lens in situ. Volunteer Keepers Mike Warren and Bill Anderson were on hand to welcome us to the site, and we had the unusual priviledge of watching the lens rotate on its chariot wheels for several minutes.

Although funds were appropriated for a lighthouse at Point Reyes in 1854, disputes over title of the land dragged on for 15 years. In that period over three-quarters of a million dollars worth  of ships and cargo was lost from shipwrecks on that point.

The Barbier & Fenestre apparatus was manufactured in Paris in 1867. It has been in the tower since the light was established in 1870. The lens was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the National Park Service when the light was automated in the 1970s.

Point Reyes CA 2017 Bill Anderson winds clockwork JCC
Bill Anderson winds clockwork
Weights that drive the clockwork mechanism. Keepers had to wind these weights every two hours and twenty minutes when the light was active.

According to Carola DeRooy, Museum Program Manager for the Seashore, “The National Park Service has funded a multi-million dollar restoration project for the lighthouse, lens and clockworks, and fog signal building, as well as accessibility improvements and new exhibits at the entire site. We have been in the planning stages for 2 years and the work will be starting in the fall. The tower’s roof is being replaced, so the lens and clockworks have to be removed at the beginning of the project and conservation work done while it’s out.”

A bullseye, broken in a recent earthquake, will be repaired during the restoration.

A complete condition assessment will be undertaken to see what additional repairs are necessary to the lens, chariot wheels, and clockwork. After the conservation is completed, the lens will be re-assembled as an interpretive display in the tower. It is hoped that the lens will be operated for paid “behind the scenes” tours that would help fund its maintenance.

The restoration is expected to take a year, and the park will try, with safety considerations in mind, to keep the site accessible as much as possible. The lighthouse itself will have scaffolding all around it and will likely be closed until building repairs are completed.

Currently, the lighthouse stairs are open to the public Fridays through Mondays. See the park’s visitor information for details on times the lens room is open and links to more information.

The building just below the lighthouse still belongs to the Coast Guard and the current aids to navigation (light and fog horn) are on the roof of that building.

Submitted by U.S. Lighthouse Historian Candace Clifford, May 5, 2017.

*    *    *    *

U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider 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 candace@uslhs.org.

News · Event · Affiliates

Lighthouse Gala & Symposium Weekend – May 6 & 7, 2017

alf_logo_sq96

Lighthouse Symposium – May 6, 1pm to 5pm:

On Saturday afternoon, enjoy fascinating presentations and a special Keeper’s Q&A during our symposium event, Lighthouse Keeping: Past, Present & Future being held at the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust (57 Gravelly Brook Road, Kennebunkport) from 1 to 5pm!

Presenters include…

Former Keeper and author, Ernie DeRaps, who will entertain with a slideshow on the years he and his wife Pauline spent on some of Maine’s lighthouses, including Monhegan, Browns Head and Fort Point;

Jeremy D’Entremont, New England lighthouse historian, will present “New England Lighthouses and the People Who Kept Them”;

Mt Desert Rock Lighthouse and USCG helicopter
Courtesy American Lighthouse Foundation

Bob Trapani, Jr., ALF Executive Director and lighthouse technician for the Coast Guard,  will showcase how the Coast Guard’s modern day lighthouse keeping responsibilities are carried out.

A book signing will also take place following the presentations and light refreshments will be served.  Tickets for the symposium portion are $10 per person.

Lighthouse Gala – May 7, 1pm to 5pm:

The 2017 Lighthouse Gala…our annual afternoon celebration, begins at 1pm on Sunday and will be held in the ballroom of the beautiful Nonantum Resort (95 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport) in historic Kennebunkport!

Lighthouse Gala & SymposiumLieutenant David Bourbeau, Chief, Waterways Management Division, U.S. Coast Guard, will be our Keynote speaker. LT Bourbeau will share the Coast Guards’ latest initiatives related to lighthouses including the brilliant light emitting diode beacons and on-demand Mariner Radio Activated Sound Signal system, as well as the Coast Guard’s commitment to working with partners like the American Lighthouse Foundation and how the public benefits from this teamwork to keep the lights shining bright.

Presentation of the Keeper of the Light Award and the ALF Len Hadley Volunteerism Awards.

The Nonantum prepares a delicious dinner that will feature your choice of: Prime Rib Roast au Jus, Chicken Florentine or Baked New England Haddock, salad, dessert, coffee & tea. Cash Bar. Don’t miss the Silent Auctionselection which will include: lighthouse overnights, nautical theme prints, gift baskets, collectibles and more!

Tickets for the Lighthouse Gala are $50 per person.

Order Tickets…

Online at: www.lighthousefoundation.org/eventcalendar/2017-annual-lighthouse-gala/

Call ALF at:  207-594-4174

Excerpted from the  website; originally published March 28, 2017

*    *    *    *

U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider 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 candace@uslhs.org.

News · Passport Program

Horton Point Lighthouse Celebrates 160 Years!

HPL Anniversary StampIn celebrating their 160th Anniversary, Horton Point Lighthouse, located in Southold, NY, has a new commemorative stamp for the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s Passport Program. The Horton Point lighthouse keepers are ready to stamp passports starting on Memorial Day weekend.

The Horton Point Lighthouse was constructed by the U.S. Light-House Board in 1857. It is one of seven historic lighthouses located in Southold Township. The tower and adjoining keeper’s residence are built on the “Cliff Lot” of Barnabas Horton’s original 1640 land grant. The tower is 58 feet tall and once held a 3rd order Fresnel lens. The lighthouse was automated in 1933.

In a 1990 restoration project the tower was repaired internally and externally, reopened, and relit. At that time the lower level of the keeper’s house was converted into the a nautical museum. Listed on both the State & National Registers of Historic Places, the lighthouse is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day weekend.

Submitted by Ben Gonzalez, Horton Point Lighthouse Volunteer Committee, April 19, 2017

*    *    *    *

U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider 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 candace@uslhs.org.