Education · Kate's Corner

Kate’s Corner #4

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef at the edge of New York Harbor.

When my man John was assistant keeper at Sandy Hook Light in New Jersey, he was proud of the fact that it was the oldest continually operated light station in the United States, built in 1764.

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Sandy Hook Light Station, N.J. National Archives photo 26-LG-15-1

John told me that two lotteries were used to raise funds to acquire land on Sandy Hook and pay for construction of the lighthouse. An Act of the Colony of New York, passed on May 19, 1761, established the first lottery. Ten thousand tickets were sold at a price of £2 each. £3,000 of the lottery sales were retained for the purchase of four acres of land on Sandy Hook. A second lottery, held on June 14, 1763, raised an additional £3,000 to build the lighthouse. John had to explain to me why the lottery raised money that had a pound sign in front of it instead of a dollar sign.

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Cape Henry Light, built of stone in 1792, was replaced in 1881 by a cast-iron tower. Photo by Ralph Eshelman

In 1789 the new Congress of the United States decided that the Federal government should control the nation’s lighthouses in order to support shipping. Twelve colonial lighthouses then in operation (including Sandy Hook) were transferred and the new government set about constructing Cape Henry Lighthouse at the entrance to Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, financed by a Congressional appropriation.

President George Washington had to assign the care of lighthouses to one of his cabinet members. He had only four: Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Secretary of the Treasury, and Attorney General. Washington assigned lighthouses to Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury.

Do you know someone who buys lottery tickets? What happens to the money raised?

21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker loresInformation from National Archives Record Group 26 Entry 17J; http://www.lighthousefriends.com; and http://www.presidential-power.org/presidential-cabinets

Submitted July 20, 2017

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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. Please join 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.

Cape Henry Light, built of stone in 1792, was replaced in 1881 by a cast-iron tower.

Event · News

Celebrating National Lighthouse Day

August 7 is designated as National Lighthouse Day to provide recognition for the important role which lighthouses played in the history of our country, and celebrate the values of safety, heroism, and American ingenuity that lighthouses represent. It is a day for communities and citizens groups around the country to rededicate themselves to the protection and restoration of these historic structures.

We have started a list of National Lighthouse Day events on our website. If you have one to add, please send details to candace@uslhs.org.

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Absecon Lighthouse, NJ. Photo courtesy of Absecon Lighthouse & Museum

For example, Absecon Lighthouse, New Jersey’s tallest, and the country’s third tallest Lighthouse, will be celebrating National Lighthouse Day on Monday, August 7th. Kids up to 12 years old are invited to climb the lighthouse for FREE (must be accompanied by an adult) from 10am to 5pm. But let’s not forget the grown-ups! Enjoy a Full Moonrise Climb & Wine Tasting, while enjoying jazz tunes by Atlantic City’s very own Eddie Morgan Band, from 5:30 to 8:30. Tickets are $20 to help preserve this important Atlantic City icon.

Dogs on leashes are always welcome in the garden and the museum. Bring a lawn chair and hang-out…watch the sun set while you sip some wine, listen to classic soul tunes, stroll our 21-bed community garden, 2-acre grounds, and take in the historic outdoor exhibits.

Absecon Lighthouse is a state-owned historic property administered by the non-profit Inlet Public/Private Association. Located at 31 So. Rhode Island Avenue in Atlantic City, the lighthouse is open to visitors every day July & August, 10am to 5pm, and Thursdays until 8pm – last climb is 1/2 hour before closing. This event has been sponsored in part by the NJ State Council on the Arts, Department of State, a partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts through a grant administered by the Atlantic County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs.

Absecon event submitted by Jean Muchanic, Executive Director, Absecon Lighthouse, July 19, 2017

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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. Please join 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

Save the Date – Maritime Heritage Conference – February 15 – 17, 2018

PLEASE NOTE corrected email for proposals. We’ve also added Mike Vogel’s email who is putting together the lighthouse sessions.

U.S. Lighthouse Society News

Our Maritime Communities — Stronger Together

February 15-17, 2018

New Orleans, Louisiana

The 11th Maritime Heritage Conference and the 45th Annual Conference on Sail Training and Tall Ships will come together for an information-packed joint conference encompassing a broad array of topics. The Maritime Heritage Conference was last held in 2014, and is unique in bringing together all elements of the maritime heritage community to discuss topics of common interest., Tall Ships America’s Conference on Sail Training and Tall Ships is held annually and Known for its high “take away value”, networking opportunities and camaraderie. You are invited to join with us and share an exploration of maritime heritage while charting the course for the future. The Conference Steering Committee invites you to become involved in the 2018 Conference as a presenter. This is an outstanding opportunity to come together with individuals from all segments of the maritime community to…

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International Lighthouses · News · Tours

Society’s Scotland / England Tour: Part 1

From July 10 to 26, the U.S. Lighthouse Society is touring Scotland and England, focusing on lighthouses, of course! Society Executive Director Jeff Gales has been sending daily updates of their travels.

[Click on the images to enlarge and read his captions.]

Submitted by Jeff Gales, U.S. Lighthouse Society Executive Director, July 10 & 11, 2017

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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. Please join 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.

 

Education · Kate's Corner · Keepers

KATE’S CORNER #3

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef on the edge of New York harbor.

Before John Walker brought me to Robbins Reef, he was assistant keeper at Sandy Hook Light Station. There we had a well to supply our drinking water. Robbins Reef sits on a huge rock ledge, surrounded by deep water. No place for a well. We depend on rain water, which runs off the roof into gutters that direct it to a cistern in the base of the lighthouse.

Is ‘cistern’ a familiar term to you? These water barrels come in all shapes and sizes. How much water do you think a keeper and his family would require every day? They had no flush toilets until late in the 19th century. For what other needs did they require fresh water? Would you like to do laundry by hand using water hand-pumped out of a cistern and heated on a wood stove?

HAND PUMPHave you ever seen an old fashioned hand pump? If you live in a city, probably not. Country folks who have a well can still buy such a pump from Amazon.com.

Kathleen Moore, who kept Black Rock Harbor Light off Bridgeport, Connecticut, said that she too “had to depend on rain for our water, . . .. We tried a number of times to dig for water, but always struck salt.” Salt water is not ‘potable.’

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Julia Williams, keeper of the Santa Barbara Light, 1865-1905. Courtesy of Santa Barbara Historical Museum

At the Santa Barbara Light in California not enough rain fell to fill the cistern. Keeper Julia Williams saddled a horse, took her baby in her arms, and, followed by her two little girls, rode a mile to a spring to bring home cans of water slung across the saddle of her horse.

The keepers at Matagorda Island in Texas also relied on cisterns. The nearest well was three miles away. Water was needed for family use and also to run the steam engine that powered the fog signal. The cistern at Matagorda Island, destroyed in an 1887 storm, was replaced by two new ones with a 3,402-gallon capacity. You wouldn’t worry about running out of water if you had that much.

How much water does your household use each day?
21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker lores

Information from the New York Sunday World, 1889; Annual Report of the Light-House Board; National Archives Record Group 26 Entry 35 (NC-31) Volume 283, “Light-House Letters.”

Submitted July 12, 2017

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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. Please join 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.

 

Funding Sources · News · Preservation

National Park Service awards more than $1.7 million in Maritime Heritage Grants

Block Island SE 2011 by JCC (8) copy
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, RI, received a $105,000 grant for restoration of the tower’s cast iron components. Photo by Candace Clifford, 2011

WASHINGTON – The National Park Service announced today the apportionment of $1,752,073 for 27 maritime heritage grants to applicants in 13 states and the District of Columbia. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD), the National Park Service awarded grants for projects that teach about and preserve sites and objects related to our nation’s maritime history.

“Protecting our nation’s maritime history is an important part of the National Park Service’s mission to share America’s story,” said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “These grants will support efforts to conserve important parts of our maritime history and educate students of all ages.”

The National Maritime Heritage Program Grant awards are made possible through a partnership between the two federal agencies, which both share a commitment to maritime heritage preservation and education. They are funded through recycling of vessels from the MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet. The grant program supports a broad range of maritime education and preservation projects, without expending tax dollars, while ensuring that the vessels are dismantled in an environmentally sound manner.

The National Park Service will administer these projects as direct grants to State Historic Preservation Offices, who will disburse funds to applicants. The recipients of the National Maritime Heritage grants are below. For more information about the grants and the Maritime Heritage Program, please visit www.nps.gov/martime/grants.intro.htm.

National Maritime Heritage Program Grant Recipients
California

Aircraft Carrier Hornet Foundation Educational Programs Interpreting Naval and Maritime History Through STEM $15,000
Channel Islands Maritime Museum The Living Brotherhood of the Tomol: Chumash Paddlers’ Active Legacy $35,562
Friends of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum Creating an Interpretive Master Plan for the tugboat Angels Gate  $40,000
Maritime Museum Association of San Diego Preservation of the Steam Ferry Berkeley $200,000
University of Southern California Maritime Discoveries along the California Coast $49,968
Total $340,530

Connecticut

Mystic Seaport Museum From Clippers to Containers $46,659
Sound Waters Maritime History Sails on Long Island Sound $43,500
University of Connecticut Creating a Blue Heritage Trail for Southeast Connecticut $22,780
Total $112,939

District of Columbia

Naval Historical Foundation Naval Documents of the American Revolution Digitization Project $49,700
Total $49,700

Florida

Diving With a Purpose Maritime Archaeology Educational Field Program II $50,000
University of Florida The Florida Shellfish Trail Website and Signage $34,332
University of West Florida Historical Trust The Pensacola Maritime Mural Gallery  $26,630
Total $110,962

Iowa

Dubuque County Historical Society Lead-Based Paint Abatement of William M. Black $66,999
Total $66,999

Illinois

Museum of Science and Industry Chicago U-505 Submarine Preservation Accessibility Expansion Project $82,277
Total $82,277

Maine

Atlantic Challenge Foundation The Apprenticeshop: Maritime Skills Program $50,000
Maine Maritime Museum Educational Exhibit about the Fresnel Lens and the Lighthouse Lantern  $42,141
Total $92,141

Maryland

Living Classrooms US Coast Guard Taney Hull Preservation Project $152,389
Total $152,389

Massachusetts 

USS Constitution Museum USS Constitution in Context: Enhancing Visitor Experience Online and Onsite $50,000
Total $50,000

New York

South Street Seaport Museum 1930 Tug W.O. Decker: Preservation of Deck and Certificate of Inspection $200,000
Stephen B Luce Library Research Foundation Telling the Stories of Sailors’ Snug Harbor $50,000
Whaling Museum Society Digitizing and Disseminating Whaling Collection Online $49,557
Total  $299,557

Ohio

Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory Enhancing Awareness and Educational Opportunities for Historic Lake Erie Lighthouses $18,540
Total $18,540

Pennsylvania

Independence Seaport Museum Cruiser Olympia Hull Repairs and Assessment Surveys $107,689
Total  $107,689

Rhode Island

South East Lighthouse Foundation Southeast Lighthouse Tower Cast Iron Restoration, Block Island $105,000
Total $105,000

Virginia

The Mariners’ Museum Expanding Analysis Capabilities for USS Monitor Conservation and Interpretation $83,350
Watermens Museum Yorktown Shipwrecks Education Program $30,000
Nauticus Foundation Battleship Wisconsin Engineering Project: Life in the Engine Room $50,000
Total $163,350

Total = $1,752,073

Submitted by Tom Crosson, July 7, 2017

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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. Please join 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.

Education · Kate's Corner · News

KATE’S CORNER #2

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef.

If you plan to come visit me, be careful you don’t get your feet tangled up in your long skirts as you come up that ladder. It takes both hands to climb up or down the ladder, so you don’t have a free hand to gather up your skirts. I very discretely tucked the hem of my dress into my skirt band when I had to hurry down the ladder to launch my dinghy and help some ship-wrecked sailor.

Women didn’t wear pants in the 1890s. It was considered indecorous, and I wasn’t going to do anything to rouse the Lighthouse Inspector’s disapproval. There was one female keeper, however, who didn’t let that worry her because her invalid father was the official keeper. Kathleen Moore at Black Rock Harbor Light on the north shore of Long Island Sound slept at night, dressed in a suit of boy’s clothes. “Our house was forty rods from the light tower, and to reach it I had to walk across two planks under which on stormy nights was four feet of water.” Water-logged skirts were one hazard that Kathleen didn’t intend to endure.

In addition to tending the light on her house at Michigan City, Indiana, Harriet Colfax put a lamp in the beacon at the end of a 1,500-foot-long pier that had an elevated walkway.

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The pier leading to Michigan East Breakwater Light in rough weather. The Michigan City light keeper walked out on the elevated walkway to place a lamp in the beacon at the end. Photo from the National Archives #26-LG-56-32

In her log Harriet mentioned on September 18, 1872, “Heavy gale. The waves, dashing over both Piers, very nearly carrying me with them into the lake.” The storms she described buffeted her with gusts of wind, flinging not only waves across the walkway, but also blinding sheets of spray and sleet. She must have gotten soaked.

In 1883 the Light-House Board issued an official keeper uniform—double-breasted coat with yellow buttons, dark blue trousers, and a cap bearing a yellow metal lighthouse badge. But women keepers were exempted from wearing them.

Someone should have designed a uniform for female keepers and female assistants—water-proof boots and a divided skirt with buttonholes in the skirt hem that could be fastened to buttons on the belt when keepers had to traverse an elevated walkway during a storm.

21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker loresInformation found in the New York Sunday World, 1889, and the Bridgeport Standard, March 25, 1878. Harriet Colfax’s log is in the National Archives, Record Group 26, Entry 80 (NC-31).

Submitted July 6, 2017

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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. 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.