News · Preservation · Tours

St. Marks Light Station Has A Lot to Celebrate

Above photos showing the newly restored interior at St. Marks Light Station, Florida, are courtesy of Craig Kittendorf.

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge will celebrate National Lighthouse Day with a Homecoming Celebration at the St. Marks Lighthouse! On Monday, August 7, 2018, the Refuge staff will host the descendants of lighthouse keepers and their families, including members of the U.S. Coast Guard who also kept the light. The Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge recently finished funding Phase II of the restoration, which included stabilizing and restoring the tower and the keeper’s dwelling.They received over $500,000 in grants from the Florida Division of Historical Resources, and the results of the restoration are breath-taking! The Florida Lighthouse Association will tour the tower during their June meeting. The Refuge plans to begin public access to the keeper’s dwelling in September.

St Marks FL by Jeff Gales 2018
The U.S. Lighthouse Society Gulf Coast tour visited the newly restored St. Marks Light Station in April 2018. The light station became part of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on the north coast of Florida in 1931. Photo by Jeff Gales

Submitted June 3, 2018, by Craig Kittendorf, ranger with the St. Marks NWR who worked closely with the restoration architect and contractors.

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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 candace@uslhs.org.

News

USCG Drawings for the West Coast

Society member George Collins recently shared a spreadsheet of USCG_drawings of West Coast lighthouses that have had work done on them by the Coast Guard. These drawings are now in the Record Group 26 collection at the National Archives in San Bruno, California. Collins hired a freelance researcher to photograph the drawings relating to Yaquina Head Light Station, Oregon.

Yaquina Bay (02) Details of Crown, Pinnacle NA RG 26 OR copy
Drawing of the crown of Yaquina Bay’s first order lantern (National Archives, College Park, Maryland). The U.S. Lighthouse Society has scanned the finding aid for the main collection of lighthouse plans located at College Park.

Many architectural drawings for West Coast lighthouses have been loaded onto our website by Society volunteer Gary Riemenschneider.  Members can request a limited number of drawings from the Society Archives free of charge.

Submitted May 27, 2018

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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 candace@uslhs.org.

Education · Kate's Corner · News

KATE’S CORNER #22

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

Every morsel of food we ate had to be brought by boat from Staten Island. The perfect lighthouse would have a vegetable garden, some fruit trees, a flock of chickens, a cow to supply milk, maybe even a horse to get around on. These would provide much of the food a keeper’s family ate, but would also add many tasks to the keeper family’s daily life: planting, tending, and harvesting the vegetables and fruit; collecting eggs every day; milking the cow every morning and in the evening; feeding the animals.

Fannie Salter had the perfect lighthouse at Turkey Point at the head of Chesapeake Bay. In December 1861 the District Engineer built “250 yards of new fencing at Turkey Point light station” to keep cattle from invading the lighthouse garden. This protected about four acres of ground.

Turkey Point MD Fannie Salter and son USCGHO
Fannie Salter and her son feed turkeys on the lawn of Turkey Point Light Station at the head of Chesapeake Bay. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

How big was Fannie Salter’s four acres? As big as a football field? Or a soccer field? Or a baseball field? Or an average city block?

Black Rock CT NA 26-LG-11-3 (1)
Black Rock Harbor Light Station off Bridgeport, Connecticut, around 1880. Kate Moore assisted her father there from 1817 to 1871, then acted as official keeper from 1871 until 1878. The 1823 tower still stands. Courtesy of the National Archives, #26-LG-11-3

Black Rock Harbor Light Station on the north shore of Long Island Sound was on Fayerweather Island, shrunk by erosion to three scraggly acres of tall grasses and ailanthus trees, planted by Kathleen A. Moore. Kate assisted her invalid father in keeping the light. She said, “I never had time to get lonely. I had a lot of poultry and two cows to care for, and each year raised 20 sheep, doing the shearing myself—and the killing when necessary. You see, in the winter you couldn’t get to land on account of the ice being too thin, or the water too rough. Then in the summer I had my garden to make and keep. I raised all my own stuff, and as we had to depend on rain for water, quite a bit of time was consumed looking after that. We tried a number of times to dig for water, but always struck salt.”

Kate carved duck decoys, selling them to visitors as souvenirs or to sportsmen who hunted. She also planted, gathered, and seeded oyster beds in Long Island Sound. She tended the Black Rock Harbor Light until she was 83 years old, then bought a retirement home with her savings and lived to age 105.

Was hers a perfect lighthouse?

21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker copyInformation from National Archives Record Group 26 Entry 3 (NC-63), Volume 354; and from the New York Sunday World in 1889 and the Bridgeport Standard, March 28, 1878.

Submitted May 29, 2018

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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 candace@uslhs.org.

News · Research · Society Members

Book On Halfway Rock Nears Publication

Society member Ford Reiche has won awards for his restoration of Halfway Rock Light Station, located off the coast of Maine. He’s put together a book on the history of the station and his work in bringing the station back to its former glory. The book will be available for purchase soon.

HWR-promo-cover
For more information goto HalfwayRock.com

Constantly documenting his station as well as its history, Ford recently sent these photos indicating that his “son, Sam, and ten of his friends spent the night at Halfway Rock . . . and one of them snapped the attached photos of some lettering deeply etched on a ledge on a remote part of the little island.  I had never seen this before:  ‘Hutchins, 1907, Matinicus, ME.’  It only took a couple moments on the internet for me to confirm that Harold Hutchins was assistant keeper at Halfway Rock in 1907 and 1908.  He was also stationed at Boon Island.”

Submitted by Ford Reiche, May 20, 2018

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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 candace@uslhs.org.

News · photography · Society Members

New Category for Photo Submissions

Submission Category No. 5 for the 2019 Lighthouse Calendar is “Detail or Abstract.” We have combined two options into one submission.  Pick whichever is your preference.

In the end it’s all about perspective. This is your opportunity to really study your subject, pick out an interesting aspect, and capture it in an artistic way. Submission deadline for this category is June 30, 2018.

Some entries from last year’s contest that might inspire:

The deadline for the “Technology” category is May 30, 2018. So get out there with your cameras and send us your best shot!

Goto https://uslhs.submittable.com/submit for more information.

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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 candace@uslhs.org.

News · Research · Research Catalog

Society Receives Maritime Heritage Education Grant

The Society is delighted to announce that the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) has awarded a maritime heritage grant of $48,600 to support the Society’s Archives Catalog Project.

A large part of the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s mission is to support lighthouse preservation, history, education, and research. Toward this goal, the Society has created “The Tom and Phyllis Tag Lighthouse Historical Archives.” This grant will make this archival material publicly accessible, in a searchable online catalog, to all who study and preserve lighthouse heritage.

Screen Shot of front page of a work-in-progress. The Catalog is still under development.

For the past several years the Society has been digitizing photos, plans, publications, and other textual records relating to light stations, minor aids to navigation, lighthouse keepers and other personnel, lightships, lighthouse tenders, lighthouse depots, and lighthouse technology such as lens, lamps, and fog signals for inclusion in this online catalog. We began the design phase of the online catalog in the summer of 2017 and have since created the core records for the PLACES, OBJECTS, and VESSELS categories. We recently started the upload of documents related to these resources.

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 2.46.42 PM
One of the first collections uploaded to the Archives Catalog is the National Archives Clipping Files. Over 900 documents have been uploaded so far.

Lighthouse experts Kraig Anderson and Thomas Tag have generously donated their time and talents toward the compilation of the initial databases. We cannot thank them enough!

The Society is also grateful for recent donations of research material that will ultimately become part of the Catalog. The Society is pleased to provide a means for making these collections all available in one place.

If you wish to support the required match for this grant, please visit our web’s donate page and specify that the donation is in support of the “Archives Catalog.” Questions can be directed to Candace Clifford.

Swans Island, ME 1907-1914 HEC (01)
Postcard of Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse courtesy of the Herb Entwistle Collection in the Society Archives. These postcards will be available in the Archives Catalog

Other lighthouse projects supported in this year’s maritime heritage funding include Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse, Maine; Baker Island, Massachusetts; and New York’s Seaway Lighthouses (Saint Lawrence Valley Educational Television Council). Goto the NPS website for a full list of funded projects.

Submitted by Candace Clifford, May 11, 2018

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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 candace@uslhs.org.

Education · Kate's Corner · News

KATE’S CORNER #21

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef.

Let me dispel a bit of misinformation that is circulating, prompted by self-appointed experts who never check the accuracy of their assumptions. ​As far as I’ve been able to research, women who kept the lights were paid the same salary as male keepers. My husband John was paid $600 a year; ​and when I finally received his appointment, ​I was paid $600 a year. With their housing provided, in the 1890s a family could live, frugally, on less than $2 a day.

Kate first served as a laborer when her husband John died.  When no one else permanently accepted the position, they offered it to her.​ National Archives microfilm publication M1373
Salaries have changed over the years. The first woman who received an official  keeper’​s appointment on the Chesapeake Bay was Ann Davis, appointed in 1830 at Point Lookout Light Station at the Potomac River entrance. She received a salary of $350 per year.
Ann​ requested a salary increase in 1842 through the local customs collector who supported her request. Apparently her request was denied, she was reportedly earning $350 in 1847.
Although Alcatraz keeper Michael Kassin’s salary was increased from $700 to $1,100 in 1854, he soon resigned.  The salary reduced from $1,100 to $800 in 1859 and continued to fluctuate. National Archives photo.

The Gold Rush in 1849 in California led to a steep increase in everyone’s salary on the West Coast because skilled labor became very hard to find. After several vessels experienced difficulty in the waters along the West Coast, Congress passed acts in 1850 and 1851 that provided funds for eight lighthouses to be built along the Pacific Coast. Light from a fixed, third-order Fresnel lens was first shown from Alcatraz Lighthouse on June 1, 1854, with Michael Kassin ​eventually ​receiving an annual salary of $1,100 as head keeper and John Sloan being paid $700 to serve as his assistant.

During the Civil War average principal keeper salaries elsewhere had increased to $500-$600 a year. But in remote stations like Cape Flattery in Washington State and Minots Ledge in Maine or dangerous locations like Frying Pan Shoals Light Vessel in North Carolina and Martin’s Industry Light Vessel in South Carolina principal keepers received $1,000 a year. Betsy ​Humphrey who assumed her husband’s position on Monhegan Island in Maine in 1862, was paid the same salary as her husband—$820. In 1876 she was reappointed at a reduced salary of $700. All salaries fell back closer to the average after the war. In 1896 Margaret Norvell at Port Pontchartain Light Station in Louisiana received the same salary I did.
The reduction of Betsy’s salary at Monhegan Island could also have been triggered by reduction in her duties. In 1870, her fog bell was replaced by a steam fog signal on nearby Manana Island which had its own keeper. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office

As I’ve already told you, I earned $600 a year in 1894. Emma Taberrah, who in 1904 was appointed keeper of the Cumberland Head Light Station, earned only $480, but she was keeping a minor station on Lake Champlain in Upstate New York and did not tend a fog signal.

Cumberland Head ca. 1910 courtesy of the Herb Entwistle Collection.

In 1918 Congress decreed that the average salary for light keepers should be $840. These salaries were supplemented by food supplies brought by tender to locations where there was no suitable land for gardening or keeping livestock.

Information is from F. Ross Holland, Maryland Lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay (Maryland Historical Trust Press and The Friends of St. Clements Island Museum, 1997); <Lighthousefriends.com>; Clifford, Women Who Kept the Lights​ (available from the Keeper’s Locker); and Lighthouse Service Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 7, July 1918.

Submitted May 10, 2018

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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 candace@uslhs.org.