Lighthouse News of the Week

California Lighthouse, Aruba. Courtesy of Monumentsfund Aruba.

Visit the California Lighthouse in Aruba and get your U.S. Lighthouse Society passport stamped!

California Lighthouse owes its name to a steamship that was wrecked in 1891 near the north coast of the Caribbean island of Aruba. The shipwreck was a primary reason for the building of the lighthouse between 1914 and 1916.

California Lighthouse during restoration (Creative Commons photo by Tokmanr)

The lighthouse was transferred to Monumentsfund Aruba in 2015, and a major restoration was carried out in 2015-16.

California Lighthouse is now an official member of the United States Lighthouse Society! You can now visit the lighthouse and receive a California Lighthouse stamp in your USLHS passport. Visitors will be ask for a one dollar contribution for a stamp. Donations will be used to help maintain the lighthouse.

Visitors get to climb to the top of the 180-foot tower for a spectacular view. Anne Witsenburg, director of Monumentsfund Aruba, tells us that more than two million people visit Aruba each year, and 75% of those visitors are American.


If you visit the lighthouse, just ask the Experitours guides at the lighthouse for your USLHS passport stamp!

For more information on California Lighthouse, click here.

For more information on the U.S. Lighthouse Society passport program, click here.

*  *  *

New Tour Guides for Hunting Island Lighthouse

For the past two years, the Friends of Hunting Island have been hosting tours of the Hunting Island Lighthouse and light station at Hunting Island State Park in Beaufort, South Carolina.  The Friends of Hunting Island organization, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, was created by a group of Beaufort residents to support Hunting Island State Park and its lighthouse with its many activities.

Twice a month, Ted Panayotoff, U.S. Lighthouse Society member and Friends of Hunting Island Lighthouse director, hosts a 1.5-hour tour of the lighthouse tower and the several light station buildings.  “Keeper Ted,” upholding the Lighthouse Service tradition of welcoming visitors to the light station, hosts the tours in his reproduction lighthouse keeper’s dress uniform.

Due to the expanding interest in these guided tours, the Friends of Hunting Island are planning to expand the frequency of the tours by growing the pool of available tour guides. To that end, “Keeper Ted” has begun working with three new “recruits” to familiarize them with the history of the lighthouse. This is the second lighthouse on the island and it was moved in 1889 due to beach erosion.  Along with the lighthouse, there are related exhibits in the existing light station buildings.

IMG_4542In the photo at left, the lighthouse history is being discussed at the base of the tower.  The 1873 date refers to its construction at its original location, 1 1/4 miles north of its present site, a location that is now claimed by the Atlantic Ocean.  

A tour up the tower (the only lighthouse in South Carolina regularly available to climb) stops at the eight landings, giving visitors an opportunity to see the exhibits there.  The watch room gallery is the highlight of the climb affording the visitor a panoramic view for miles up and down the coast. The watch room and lantern are not usually open to visitors as Hunting Island Light is an active private aid to navigation using a VLB-44 beacon light.  

The photo at the right shows the prospective tour guides and “Keeper Ted”  gathered on the light IMG_4556station grounds with the tower, the oil house and the station’s fresh water cistern pump house in the background.  Sadly, the wonderful three family keeper’s dwelling, described on the sign they are reading, was lost due to a fire several years after the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1933.  

Still intact, however, are two nearby storage buildings that have been restored and contain exhibits related to the lighthouse.  Below, one of the exhibits in the storage building whose theme is “life at the light station” is being described to the new tour guides.  They are learning about the work life of the keepers at the station; on the other side of this building is an exhibit on the home life of the families at the station.  These exhibits include a station medical chest and a traveling library box. Both were very important at this remote (especially at the time) light station.


Photos courtesy of Ted Panayotoff.

Click here for more details

*  *  *

Split Rock (MN) Lighthouse manager Lee Radzak to retire

Lee Radzak (U.S. Lighthouse Society)

Minnesota’s Split Rock Lighthouse, perched on a rocky, rugged bluff high above Lake Superior, is one of the most iconic lighthouses in the United States. For the past 36 years, the resident site manager at Split Rock has been Lee Radzak. When he took the job in 1982, he and his wife thought they’d give it three years to see how they liked it. Obviously, it worked out pretty well.


Under Radzak’s direction a number of preservation projects have been completed, and he has been recognized with several awards. In 2016 he was given the Ross Holland Award by the American Lighthouse Council for his achievements in lighthouse preservation.

When asked what memories will stay with him the most, Radzak said, “”Just the lake. I could write a book about the storms, the early mornings and evenings and nights.”

Lee Radzak has been a tremendous asset to Split Rock Lighthouse and a great friend to the lighthouse community at large, and we wish him and his wife, Jane, all the best in retirement.

You can read more about this story here.

*  *  *

Lighthouse supply ship converted into hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

A 1963 lighthouse supply ship, the Fingal — bought in 2014 by Royal Yacht Enterprises — has been converted into a luxurious floating hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. All the guest rooms are named for Scottish lighthouses, and the restaurant serves local seafood.

Count us in.

Click here for more information.

Official website for the Fingal

*  *  *

Cool Jazz at the National Lighthouse Museum, NY
Celebrate Mardi Gras Light Moments with Cool Jazz at the National Lighthouse Museum, 200 The Promenade at Lighthouse Point, St. George, (adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry) on Saturday, March 2, 2019, 7-10 p.m.
Featuring the smooth, sultry and soulful voice of Donna Cumberbatch. Donna is influenced by such artists as Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Gloria Lynne, and Nancy Wilson, but exhibits her own unique and enchanting style. Tickets – $40. Delectable Edibles by Bayou Restaurant.
For Info/Reservations: Phone: 718-390-0040
*  *  *

Hibbard Casselberry, Jr.  1923-2019

Hibbard Casselberry, Jr., 96, a man who was well known to Florida lighthouse aficionados and preservationists, died February 5, 2019, at John Knox Village, Pompano Beach, Florida. “Hib” was born on January 2, 1923, in Chicago, Illinois.

At the age of 72, he retired from the City of Fort Lauderdale Architectural Department, and then devoted the rest of his life to historic preservation with an emphasis on lighthouses. He was a founding member and past president of the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society, a founding board member of the Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation, and an original member of the Florida Lighthouse Association. He was honored in 2012 by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution with their Historic Preservation Medal in recognition of his work in historic preservation.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Martha, as well as their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Christ United Methodist Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL (, or the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society (

*  *  *  *  *  *

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

Kate's Corner · News

Kate’s Corner #31

Navassa Island Lighthouse and dwelling under construction in 1917. National Archives photo 26-LG-41-6A.

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef.

Did you know that the Lighthouse Service built a lighthouse on Navassa Island? Bet you don’t even know where Navassa Island is. I didn’t until I read about it in the newspaper. It was built in 1917, while I was still keeping the light on Robbins Reef.

Navassa is an uninhabited, 5 km (about 2 square miles) island in the Caribbean Sea between Haiti and Jamaica, administered by the U.S. Department of Interior. In 1857 the phosphorite on Navassa was mistaken for guano by a U.S. sea captain who laid claim to the island under the Guano Island Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1855. Between 1865 and 1898 almost a million tons of the phosphorite was strip-mined from the island and shipped to Baltimore by the Navassa Phosphate Company. The island was abandoned during the Spanish American War, but by that time it was firmly established as U.S. territory.

Recent view of Navassa Island Lighthouse (U.S. Geological Survey)

The opening of the Panama Canal put Navassa in the middle of the traffic lanes between the Atlantic and Caribbean, and the Coast Guard built a lighthouse on the island in 1917 to help guide ships bound for the Panama Canal. Global Positioning Systems eliminated the need for the lighthouse by 1996, and the Coast Guard turned over to U.S. Department of Interior on January 16, 1997.

The 162-foot lighthouse is now endangered by abandonment and lack of maintenance, and the keeper’s house is in ruins. The importance of the light before the advent of GPS was evident in the fact that it has the twelfth-highest tower and fourth-highest focal plane of all U.S. lights.

A National Wildlife Refuge, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was established on Navassa Island in 1999 to preserve and protect the coral reef ecosystems and the marine environment, to restore and enhance native wildlife and plants, and to provide opportunities for wildlife research. This refuge is closed to the public.


21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker copy

Information is from; and; and Wikipedia.


Lighthouse News of the Week


Sophie Blackall Wins Caldecott Medal for “Hello Lighthouse”

This year’s winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal for outstanding illustration of children’s books is Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall.

The New York Times Book Review said of Hello Lighthouse: “I will be surprised if a more exquisite picture book will be published this year…Children will be fascinated…” Kirkus Review praised the “precise, detailed illustrations,” rendered in Chinese ink and watercolor.

This is the second Caldecott for Sophie Blackall, who wrote and illustrated Hello Lighthouse. She won her first Caldecott Medal in 2016 for Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear.

On Twitter, Blackall cited the U.S. Lighthouse Society as an important resource in her research for Hello Lighthouse. When asked to expand on that, she responded: “I am indebted to the USLHS! It was such a fantastic resource when I was researching Hello Lighthouse. From my early investigations into history and architecture, to exploring the comprehensive list of lighthouses and the stories every single one contains, to following links and more links to a true treasure trove of information. My obsession began at your website and ended with this book.”

Thank you, Sophie, and best wishes for continued success!

Hello Lighthouse is available through Amazon, B&N, and other online booksellers.

*  *  *

Special Louisiana license plates to help save lighthouse

The American Press has reported that purchases of Louisiana’s Sabine Pass Lighthouse license plates will help raise money to restore the structure. The plates say “Save the Sabine Pass Lighthouse” and feature an image of the tower on the Gulf Coast.

Sabine Pass Lighthouse (U.S. Coast Guard)

The most important needs are fixing cracks and banding the tower to help prevent water intrusion. The lighthouse is perhaps the oldest brick structure standing in Southwest Louisiana.

Plates are available at the Sulphur, Lake Charles, or Cameron DMV and through

Click here for more details.

*  *  *




Four Florida reef lighthouses now available to new stewards

Under the guidelines of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, four Florida reef lighthouses are being made available to potential new stewards. The lighthouses are American Shoal, Carysfort Reef, Sombrero Key, and Alligator Reef.

Details may be found here.


*  *  *




Relighting celebration for Gasparilla Island Lighthouse (Florida) on February 9

Collection of Jeremy D’Entremont


The Barrier Island Parks Society is hosting a celebration for the newly restored Gasparilla Island Lighthouse on Saturday, February 9, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. The celebration will include free climbs of the lighthouse, food and drinks, and live music. The lighthouse relighting will be at 6:20 p.m.

After a lengthy approval process involving six federal and state government agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers, the lighthouse has been formally designated a private aid to navigation. The new lens is a replica of the one that was installed in 1927 and will include an amber LED lamp.

The lighthouse is at 220 Gulf Blvd., Boca Grande, Florida. Call BIPS 941-964-0060 for more information.

Click here for an event flyer.

*  *  *


Rondout Lighthouse in 2008. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

FEMA funds for Rondout Lighthouse (NY)

$401,736 for repairs at Rondout Lighthouse has become available. The funds had sat dormant for some years after damage from Superstorm Sandy.

The lighthouse, on the Hudson River at the entrance to Rondout Creek, is owned by the City of Kingston, New York.  Kristen Wilson, director of the city’s Office of Grants Management, said that the work to be done included repairs to the electrical system at the lighthouse.

Click here to read more details.

*  *  *  *  *  *

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


Guest Column: Guiding Lights: A Story Of America’s Lighthouses By Christian Taber, Age 12

Hilton Head Range Rear SC 2008 Aug. 31st Mike & Carol McKinney copy (1)
Hilton Head Range Rear (Leamington) Lighthouse, SC. Photo Courtesy of Mike & Carol McKinney.

When you hear the word “lighthouse,” you probably think “island,” “beach,” or “vacation.” Lighthouses are more than just tourist attractions or part of your dream vacation. They are structures of America’s past and they tell a story.

Lighthouses were the guiding lights for sailors, warning them of danger and helping them have a safe trip. The light fought through the darkness of a stormy night. Keepers worked 24/7 keeping the lamps burning. Because of new technology, some lighthouses have gone dark. Some lighthouses have been sold; some have become museums, shops, or even parking lots (that’s not good!), and some are subject to neglect and have been left to be eaten away by time (that’s not good, either!).

The United States Lighthouse Society (USLHS) was founded 1984. They are determined to preserve these pieces of American history. I was at the Harbour Town Lighthouse in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where I purchased a USLHS Lighthouse Passport. I have been to this lighthouse many times, but what actually sparked my greater interest in lighthouses is the Leamington Lighthouse in Hilton Head. After exploring this old lighthouse, out of curiosity, I went to the USLHS website and learned about their mission of preserving lighthouses. For my 12th birthday, my parents got me a Keeper level membership. I would like to thank USLHS for rushing my membership card (it arrived on my birthday!) and for including a few other things for my birthday. I am very excited to be a part of the USLHS community.

Christian Taber, USLHS Member


Looking for “keepers” at Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse, Maine

WANT TO BE A LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER?  Burnt Coat Harbor Light, Swan’s Island, ME,  is looking for two enthusiastic volunteers to live in the keeper’s house apartment for two weeks (late May/early June, 2019). In return for free use of the apartment, the volunteers would help to get the light station ready for the summer season. Duties would include spring cleaning and light maintenance in the house and tower, landscape improvements and trail grooming.  If interested, respond to: or,  including a brief paragraph on what skills you would bring and why you are interested in this opportunity. For more information about the light station and Swan’s Island, see

*  *  *  *  *  *

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


Lighthouse News of the Week

still picture identifier; 26-LG-33-49
St. Marks Lighthouse, Florida. National Archives photo 26-LG-33-49.

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse (FL) Reopen

The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge — and the lighthouse in the refuge — in Florida reopened this week following the federal government shutdown. While the shutdown was in progress, members of the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge and other groups held clean ups and answered visitor questions.

The newly renovated keeper’s house is opened to the public on the first Friday and Saturday of each month and for special events. The tower is not open for climbing. For more information, contact the refuge at 850-925-6121.

Click here for more on this story.

*  *  *

Brilliant Minds Work on Weekends at the National Lighthouse Museum (NY)

Your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews 2-12 years old are invited to join the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island, New York, for this course that meets for four Saturdays. The goals are to learn about lighthouses — their purposes, architecture, history, and stories of their keepers through art. You may register for one or more sessions. Individual sessions are $20 each per student or all four sessions for $75 per student.

If you need additional information, please contact the Museum directly at 718-390-0040.


*  *  *

Moonrise over Nubble Lighthouse (Maine)

Not a big news story here, just a fantastic photo of the rising full moon (well, a day after full) behind the famous Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse in York, Maine, by Manish Mamtani. Click here to check it out!

*  *  *

Eric H. Davis 1961-2019

Courtesy American Lighthouse Foundation

The lighthouse community lost a great friend with the passing of Eric Davis of Owls Head, Maine, on January 24, 2019. Eric, who lost a long and courageous battle with cancer, was chairperson of the Friends of Rockland Harbor Lights from 2010 to 2016, and he was president of the American Lighthouse Foundation from 2012 to 2016.

Bob Trapani Jr., executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation, said, “His wonderful contributions to ALF were many, and his friendship was even more stellar. . . . The lights along the shore are burning a little dimmer in the wake of this sad news.”

Eric was a life-long musician and his biggest passion was traditional jazz music. He played upright bass for many years in several jazz groups, including the Eric Davis Jazz Trio. Shortly before he died, Eric created and endowed the Eric Davis Jazz Fund, as his legacy to promote and support traditional jazz music performance and education in Midcoast Maine. Per his request, a primary beneficiary will be the Midcoast Music Academy in Rockland.

Eric’s varied life experience included years as an IT professional, as an optician, and as a licensed massage therapist. As accurately stated in his obituary, “During his time with the American Lighthouse Foundation he became known and respected for listening to all sides of issues with his particular brand of objectivity, and then leading the discussion respectfully towards an effective consensus and resolution.”

Eric will be greatly missed. A celebration of his life will be held in the Knox Ballroom at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine, Saturday, Feb. 16, from 1 to 4 p.m.

You can read more about Eric Davis here.

*  *  *  *  *  *

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

Kate's Corner · News

Kate’s Corner #30

point arena
The original (1870) Point Arena Lighthouse. National Archives photo 26-LG-63-38-ac.

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef.

Inspector Snow, when he last visited Robbins Reef, told me about the damage done to the tall masonry tower on Point Arena headland north of San Francisco in the 1906 earthquake. He said that a rare earthquake had struck Pensacola, Florida, in 1885, but earthquakes were much more common in California.

The Point Arena keeper described that experience: “A heavy blow first struck the tower from the south . . ., accompanied by a heavy retort. The tower quivered for a few seconds, went far over to the north, came back, and then swung north again, repeating this several times. Immediately after came rapid and violent vibrations, rending the tower apart, the sections grinding upon each other; while the lenses, reflectors, etc., in the lantern were shaken from their settings and fell in a shower upon the iron floor.”

The earthquake struck before dawn. At least one of the keepers would have been in the watch room at the top of the Point Arena tower. Imagine his thoughts as he made his way down the broken tower. The keepers must have gone up the stairs again because they immediately disassembled the lantern and reassembled it on a temporary tower in order to maintain the light.

The tower was cracked and leaning beyond repair the keepers dwellings uninhabitable and the wind too strong to use tents. The keepers constructed four bungalows for their families.

Letters from the 12th district engineer to the Light-House Board dated May 9 and November 30, 1906, stated, “Experience in this city shows that in order to be earthquake-proof, the new tower must be a steel frame construction or else of reinforced concrete. . . . the cost of a cast-steel tower similar to the Cape Fear tower, but 100 feet high, will exceed the cost of a reinforced concrete tower.”

The new (1908) Point Arena Lighthouse. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

A reinforced concrete tower was chosen for Point Arena, the first in the nation, completed and lit with a new first-order lens the largest of the Fresnel lenses in 1908. It was electrified in 1928 and automated in 1977. It is now managed by the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc., who provide overnight accommodations in the keepers dwellings.

The first-order Fresnel lens, now on display on the museum at Point Arena. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

The inspector said that other California lighthouses were damaged by the 1906 earthquake. It s a dramatic story, worth Googling, if you want to learn more about it.


Information is from National Archives Record Group 26, Entry 80 and Entry 48, File #550; and Cipra, Lighthouses, Lightships, and the Gulf of Mexico, p. 64.