Education · Kate's Corner · Lighthouse Construction · News

KATE’S CORNER # 15

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef.

In an earlier post I talked about single-keeper, “family” light stations which marked sounds, bays, rivers, and harbors. Tall towers, above 150 in height, were the extreme opposite. They stood on flat land on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts where offshore shoals, dangerous currents, or rocky ledges required the light to be seen 14 to 16 nautical miles. They were lit by huge first-order Fresnel lenses. Tall towers stood alone, separate from the keepers’ dwelling. Some tall towers had two assistant keepers, some three to maintain the watch schedule.

absecon pc
The earliest tall tower to be completed appears to be Absecon, New Jersey. Constructed under the supervision of District Lighthouse Engineer George Meade, the 1857 Annual Report remarked, “It is a fact worthy of remark that on this part of the coast of hitherto frequent and appalling shipwrecks, since the exhibition of this light, a period of about ten months, there have been no wrecks in its vicinity.” Postcard from the U.S. Lighthouse Society collection.

As a woman I never would have been appointed to serve as principal keeper of a tall tower.

The light in a tall tower was watched throughout the night to be sure the lamp kept burning properly. A watchroom built below the lantern permitted the keeper to stay there during his watch rather than repeatedly climbing stairs during the night.

These are the nation’s tall towers ranging from 192 to 150 feet in height:

  • Cape Hatteras Light, North Carolina, erected 1870
  • Cape Charles Light, Cape Charles, Virginia, erected 1864 and 1894
  • Ponce de Leon Inlet Light, Florida, erected 1887
  • Barnegat Light, New Jersey, erected 1859
  • Cape Lookout Light, North Carolina, erected 1859
  • Absecon Light, New Jersey, erected 1857
  • Fire Island Light, New York, erected 1858
  • St. Augustine Light, Florida, erected 1874
  • Cape Henry Light, Virginia, erected 1881
  • Navassa Island Light, Navassa Island (an uninhabited Caribbean island located in the Jamaica Channel), erected 1917
  • Morris Island Light, South Carolina, erected 1876
  • Currituck Beach Light, North Carolina, erected 1875
  • Bodie Island Light, North Carolina, erected 1872
  • Cape May Light, New Jersey, erected 1859
  • Dry Tortugas Light, Florida, erected 1858
  • Tybee Island Lighthouse, Georgia, erected 1867
  • Cape Canaveral Light, Florida, erected 1868
  • Pensacola Light, Florida, erected 1859
  • Cape Romain Lighthouse, South Carolina, erected 1858
Cape Romain SC both towers NA 26-LG-71-73-ac copy
At 150 feet, the second tower at Cape Romain, South Carolina, was significantly taller than the tower it replaced. National Archives photo # 26-LG-71-73.

Sandy Hook, where John was assistant keeper, was 103 feet tall—a secondary coastal light with a third-order Fresnel lens, visible 10.8 nautical miles. I would like to have visited one of the tall towers and climbed its stairway to the top to see the huge first-order lens. Imagine the view!

21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker copyInformation is from Clifford, Nineteenth Century Lights; <lighthousefriends.com>; and the 1883 Light List.

Submitted November 23, 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 · photography · Society Members

Lighthouse Society’s 2018 Calendar Images

The Society is pleased to announce that the 2018 calendar has gone to the printer. Some of you wanted to see the photos that will be featured. Here are the cover and monthly images (hover your mouse over the image to see caption with photographer’s name):

The printer asked that we add four additional pages to the calendar, so we are delighted that we were able to include 12 honorable mentions:

Congratulations to all our Society photographers for making this calendar a stunning reminder of how much we love lighthouses!

You can purchase your calendar through the Society’s Keeper’s Locker. (Calendars will be mailed at the end of November.) We are offering free calendars to new members who join before December 8, 2017. See our membership page for more information. Gift memberships make great holiday presents to anyone who loves lighthouses!

Submitted by Candace Clifford, November 15, 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 #14

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef.

You’ve recently had the excitement of a total eclipse of the sun. My son Jacob, who succeeded me as keeper when I retired in 1919, and I both watched a partial eclipse on January 24, 1925. The path of totality was about 85 miles wide at the beginning and traversed the west end of Lake Superior, the northern portion of Lake Michigan, and the southern part of Lake Huron. The eclipse began at sunrise along a line slightly east of Detroit, Michigan. In those localities the sun rose eclipsed.

Split Rock MN 1918 NA 26-LG-53-38-ac copy (2)
Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior in Minnesota was the first American lighthouse to be darkened by the 1925 eclipse. National Archives image 26-LG-53-38 dated 1918.

The path of totality continued eastward early after sunrise and was central over Buffalo, New York, with a total duration of nearly two minutes. New York City was on the southern edge of the path, which was then about 100 miles wide, and the middle of the eclipse occurred in New York at about 9:11 a.m. East of New York the path of totality widened so that all of Long Island Sound and all of the island itself except the extreme southern corner, fell within the total path, which was central over New Haven, Connecticut, about 9:13 a.m. Nantucket Lightship fell almost at the center of the total phase, which had a duration there of over two minutes at about 9:17 a.m.

Nantucket LV 106 1930 May CG Historians Office copy
Nantucket Lightship which the 1925 total eclipse reached at 9:17 a.m. 1930 photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office

Various stars and planets were recognized in the vicinity of the eclipsed sun during the time of total darkness. The nearest was the third magnitude star Dabih, in the constellation of Capricorn, slightly southwest of the sun. The planets Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter were visible west of the sun, and the bright stars Altair and Vega were seen at some distance to the southwest.

The entire eclipse lasted between two and two-and-a-half hours. We used smoked glasses to protect our eyes.

Were any stars seen during the 2017 eclipse?

In the Second and Third Lighthouse Districts, with headquarters at Boston, Massachusetts, and Staten Island, New York, respectively, the keepers of 19 lighthouses and the masters of six lightships and one lighthouse tender submitted data on the January 24, 1925, eclipse, for transmission to the Hydrographic Office, Navy Department.

How would the visual observations submitted in 1925 have differed from the data collected in 2017?

21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker copyInformation is from Lighthouse Service Bulletin, Vol. III, No 13, pp 59-60, January 2, 1925, and No. 15, p. 68, March 2, 1925.

Submitted November 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.

Event · Lighthouse Construction · News · Society Members

Ponce Inlet Begins 130th Anniversary Celebration

On November 1, 1887, at about dusk, Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse Principal Keeper William R. Rowlinski climbed the 213 steps of the tall, red brick giant to its lantern room. Rowlinski proceeded to light the five-concentric-wick kerosene lamp to inaugurate the first night of service for what is now known as the Ponce DeLeon Inlet Lighthouse. The brilliant, fixed white light blazed forth from the Barbier & Fenestre first-order lens.

About two months before the light’s activation, a Notice to Mariners was issued from the U.S. Light-House Board formally announcing the new light’s presence on the coast atop the 175-foot tower. It took three years to complete the station on that previously dark, 100-mile stretch of coast of East Florida.
Construction drawing courtesy National Archives

In 1970, after more than 80 years of service, the U.S. Coast Guard decommissioned the station and formulated plans to demolish the structures and use the rubble as an artificial reef. A group of Ponce Inlet residents, alarmed by the potential loss of so much local and national history, formed the Ponce DeLeon Lighthouse Preservation Association, saved the tower and keepers’ residences from the wrecking ball, and has managed and operated the station as an attraction and museum ever since. Restoration continues to this day, and as a result, in 1998 the once dilapidated station was recognized as a National Historic Landmark, one of only 12 historic United States lighthouses to be so honored. Welcoming more than 175,000 visitors each year, the station is acknowledged as one of the best preserved and most representative light stations in the nation.

Ponce DeLeon Inlet, FL, July 2013. Photo by John Mann

Today, that beacon continues to shine as a silent sentinel helping mariners navigate the dangerous Florida coast. In honor of that first lighting, a year-long, 130th Anniversary Celebration, hosted by the Preservation Association, begins with a festive evening on Friday evening, November 10, 2017, at the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum .

Submitted by Society Member John F. Mann, Lead Docent, Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, August 10, 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.

Event · News

22nd Annual Victorian Christmas Open House at Heceta Lighthouse B&B

LIGHTKEEPERS' HOUSE XMAS SNOW 010417_010

Come one, come all to Heceta Head Lightstation’s Victorian Christmas Open House!

Doors will be open to the public from 4-7 pm December 9th & 10th and 16th & 17th.

Enjoy the majesty of the beautifully decorated Keeper’s House! Each evening local musicians will perform your holiday favorites while local sponsors provide warm drinks and cookies! Santa Claus will also be visiting each evening.

Free Shuttle service from Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint parking lot will be available. There is a $5 day use fee required for parking. Admission to Keepers House is free.

Heceta Lighthouse Gift Shop will be open and filled with special lighthouse gifts for your Christmas shopping!  The State Park will have the lighthouse open as well, so bring your flashlight…. and rain jacket, just in case.

For more information please call 866-547-3696 or visit https://www.hecetalighthouse.com/events#christmas.

Submitted by Misty Anderson, Inn Manager and Event Coordinator, Heceta Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast on November 3, 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.

Merchandise · News · photography · Society Members

Congratulations to Society Photographers

calendar cover lores
Cover photo is “Pemaquid Point Milky Way” by Robert Kausch

Congratulations to the 14 U.S. Lighthouse Society Photographers whose photos were chosen for the 2018 Lighthouse Society Calendar — Robert Kausch, Ed Boesiger, John J. Young, James Hill, Mindy Margaritis, Dan Reiss, Elizabeth A. Burns-Hausrath, Lisa Mintz, Dave Waller, Rich Buckner, Sharon Jones, Ken Dinsmore, Bill Hammond, and Vivianne Gifford. The 14 images selected for this 2018 calendar represent a variety of construction types, geographical locations, and artistic perspectives. Each photographer provided a quote about the subject of the photo or his or her experience taking it. Their love of lighthouses is apparent in both their images and the captions they provided. We appreciate both their talent and their enthusiasm for the subject matter!

To see all the submissions, goto our 2018 Calendar page. To pre-order your calendar, goto the Keeper’s Locker. Calendars are expected to ship at the end of November.

For those considering a membership or gift membership, sign up before December 8th and receive a free calendar. We appreciate your support of lighthouses!

Submitted by Candace Clifford, November 2, 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 · Preservation

Shining a Light on Metalsmith Alex Klahm

Yaquina Head Lighthouse shrouded for restoration in 2005-06. Courtesy George Collins

Satisfied smiles faded and hearts sank when Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials in Oregon learned that their pride and joy, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse they’d taken over from the Coast Guard in 1996, needed lots and lots of Tender Loving Care..

The 93-foot-tall 1873 lighthouse was discovered in 2000 to need about a million dollars worth of repairs. BLM funds became available in 2005 to begin a seven-month-long top-to-bottom exterior restoration.

Key to the project was nationally-acclaimed metalsmith/designer craftsman Alex Klahm, applauded for his work since 1989 at many lighthouses on the East and Gulf Coasts.

Alex recreated at his home factory, 3,200 miles away in St. Petersburg, Florida, and later installed — with two helpers — dozens of cast iron and bronze pieces to replace rusted railings, cornices, posts, and brackets at the top of the lighthouse tower. The BLM presented Alex with a certificate of excellence for the exceptional work.

 Submitted by Society Member George Collins, October 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.