Conferences · News

Deadline Reminder for Maritime Heritage Conference Session Proposals

MHCFor those wanting to submit session proposals for the upcoming Maritime Heritage Conference, in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 14 – 17, 2018, the deadline has been extended to December 1st.

For topics relating to lighthouses, contact Mike Vogel . For all other proposals see the 11th Maritime Heritage Conference Call for Presenters & Guidelines page, which includes details on conference topics as well as information on focus sessions, maritime heritage papers, the application process, deadlines and the selection process, and presenter policies. Individual paper and session proposals should include a one-page abstract and a one-page biographical statement about each presenter emailed to Dr. David Winkler and Jonathan Kabak at: proposalsmhc@gmail.com.

The conference hotel is the New Orleans Marriott – French Quarter, at a discounted rate of $164/night. The discount cannot apply before Feb. 14 (Mardi Gras is Feb. 13) but can be used for a few days after the conference. Hotel reservations may be made online by using the conference passkey.

Activities will include a tour/visit of the World War II Museum. The keynote speaker is historian and author Nathaniel Philbrick (In the Heart of the Sea and several others).

Click here for more information (NMHS) or here (Tall Ships America).

Submitted by Mike Vogel and Candace Clifford, October 26, 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 · News

KATE’S CORNER #13

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef.

Wives and children of keepers generally assisted in tending the light so that the keeper could hunt or fish, fetch supplies from the nearest town, or perhaps supplement his meager salary by acting as a pilot or keeping a post office. Families provided free labor for the lighthouse service, which allowed small stations on enclosed bodies of water—the Chesapeake Bay, the Hudson River, Long Island Sound, Lake Champlain, the Great Lakes, Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana—to be attended by only one keeper. These were called “family stations.”

The first woman who received an official light keeper’s appointment on the Chesapeake Bay was Ann Davis. Her husband James was the first keeper of Point Lookout Light Station at the Potomac River entrance in Maryland. Appointed in 1830, he died just a few months later. His wife replaced him at a salary of $350 per year, and kept the light until 1847.

Point Lookout 1928
Point Lookout Lighthouse on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland in 1928. The second story and porches were added in 1883. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office

In 1857 Sarah Thomas replaced her deceased husband George at Cove Point Light Station at the entrance to the Patuxent River, Maryland, serving until 1859. She tended a lamp with concentric wicks in a new fifth-order Fresnel lens, installed in 1855 to replace the 11 lamps with reflectors on a chandelier.

In 1863 Esther O’Neill replaced her deceased husband John as keeper at Concord Point (Havre de Grace) Light Station at the entrance to the Susquehanna River, Maryland, remaining there until 1881. Esther was the eighth keeper in a single family that tended Concord Point Light Station for several decades.

cumberland head
The Tabberrah family at Cumberland Head around 1880. Photo made from a tintype belonging to Emma’s grandson, Arthur Hillegas.

Emma Tabberrah kept the Cumberland Head Light on Lake Champlain, New York, while I was at Robbins Reef. Her husband was a disabled Civil War veteran with a lead bullet lodged in his hip. Surgery to remove the bullet led to an infection that killed him in 1904. Emma had always helped him keep the light and won the keeper’s appointment. Two daughters assisted her.

I think often how Emma and I would have been impoverished had we not been appointed keepers. After John died, I kept Robbins Reef for four years, paid only a laborer’s wage, while the Light-House Board sought a male keeper. When I finally received the appointment in 1894 with its $600 annual salary, I counted my blessings.

21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker copyInformation on Ann Davis is from F. Ross Holland, Maryland Lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay. Information on Sarah Thomas is from Clifford, Nineteenth Century Lights, p. 3. The O’Neill genealogy appears in a brochure published by the Friends of the Concord Point Lighthouse. Information on Emma Taberrah provided by her grandson, Arthur B. Hillegas. Information on Kate Walker from National Archives Record Group 26, Entry 1 (NC-63).

Submitted October 25, 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.

Historic Images · News · Research

Early Aerial Photography Digitized

At first glance you might not think early Air Force photography would be useful for lighthouse research, but when you start looking at photos taken of large port cities, you start noticing lighthouses.

Jones Point VA 1921 RG-18-AA-127-24-ac copy
Note the Jones Point Lighthouse on the Potomac River in the center foreground of this 1921 aerial photograph of Alexandria, Virginia. National Archives RG-18-AA-127-24

The National Archives recently announced “The Digitization of 18-AA,” a Record Group 18 entry entitled “Airscapes” of American and Foreign Areas, 1902-1964. These images are arranged by geographical location, so you must search according to the city where the station is located. Even if you don’t find images of lighthouses, you will find interesting historical perspectives of waterfront areas when they were still primarily industrial.

Submitted by Candace Clifford, October 24, 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 · Research · Society Members

Shining the Light on Gary Riemenschneider

If you have accessed the Digital Archives or the Lighthouse Enthusiasts Community sections on the Society’s website, you have Society volunteer Gary Riemenschneider to thank. The Society would like to take this opportunity to highlight Gary’s remarkable contributions!

Gary Riemenschneider Photo copy
Gary Riemenschneider visiting Eldred Rock Lighthouse, Alaska

Many years ago Gary created an application on his computer that allowed him to log lighthouse visits. Around 2010 he created the USLHS Lighthouse Enthusiasts Community website where all lighthouse enthusiasts can log and review their visits and passport stamps, download coordinates to all the viewable lighthouses in the U.S. and Canada, and much more.

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 11.24.10 AM

Gary volunteered hundreds of hours to develop an incredible Light List resource for the Society website. The information in this section uses two formats. First, you can access graphical representations for sections of the United States where arcs are displayed that represent the characteristics of those lighthouses on the map, how lighthouses were activated or deactivated over time, and how their characteristics may have changed. Second, you can access historical light list information for either an entire state or a particular lighthouse.

Gary was inspired to create this splendid resource during a 2005 Society tour of Maine Lighthouses.  While visiting the recently opened Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, Maine, he saw a huge nautical chart painted on the floor showing the Maine coastline with the characteristic arcs of the lighthouses in that state. Gary thought to himself that he could replicate it on a computer! Little did he know then how much time he would devote to putting that website together! The first release of the Light Lists website occurred in 2007 with the Pacific Coast lights fully researched. Since then he has added the East Coast and Gulf Coast lighthouses. However, he still has the Great Lakes lighthouses to fully research — a daunting task!

Gary also created a couple of other sections within the USLHS website dealing with lighthouse photos and architectural drawings. He recently added a number of West Coast lighthouse drawings which the Society had scanned from the National Archives collection.

Point Ano Nuevo 6 Light House NA RG 26 CA copy
Gary recently added this plan of Ano Nuevo Lighthouse, CA, to the Architectural Drawings section of the Society’s website. Plan was scanned by the Society at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

Gary currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, which is within fairly easy reach of many of the Great Lakes lighthouses. He got the lighthouse fever in 1999 with his then wife, Debbie Roark. They planned a trip to Acadia National Park and viewed the Nubble Lighthouse in Maine on the way. While there they saw a few more lighthouses, and they both became hooked. Although Debbie and Gary are no longer married, they continue to see many lighthouses in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Gary’s ultimate goal is to view all of the lighthouses in the United States and Canada, but he says “I still has a way to go. And, of course, I want to continue providing support for the USLHS website since I still have a love for developing software on a subject that greatly interests me.”

A huge Society thank you to Gary Riemenschneider for his incredible contributions to lighthouse research, education, and enjoyment. His exceptional generosity in sharing his time and computer talents have greatly benefitted those who love to visit and study lighthouses!

Submitted by Candace Clifford, October 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 · Preservation · Society Members

Restoration of Halfway Rock Lighthouse Tower Completed

 

Halfway Rock Light Station is located ten miles offshore in Casco Bay, Maine. Recent photo by Dave Wright.
Halfway Rock Lighthouse undergoing preservation work. Photo courtesy of Ford Reiche.

Ford Reiche earned the American Lighthouse Foundation’s Keeper of the Light award in May 2017. The award is “designed to honor those individuals and organizations in the national lighthouse community who have contributed in a significant manner to the preservation of America’s lighthouses and their rich heritage.”

The Society salutes Ford Reiche for not only preserving the lighthouse at Halfway Rock but for also documenting its rich history! Reiche is currently writing a book about the station using the material he has collected from the National Archives and other sources.

Reiche reported that the tower’s restoration has been completed and shared these photos illustrating recent events at the station:

This summer I entertained at Halfway Rock a former keeper who had last been there in 1961, when he been stationed there for a year. Ken Rouleau now lives in Derry, New Hampshire. I had an old photo (of Ken’s) of him standing in front of an RDF tower and the old bell tower in 1960.  This summer I took a new image of the same man standing in same exact spot 57 years later.  See the before and after shots below, plus another old USCG image of the whole facility, to help you get your bearings. Ken has lasted better than the RDF tower and the bell tower. . .

Reiche reported on another enjoyable outing to Halfway Rock (HWR) this summer when he took out retired Dr. Martha Friberg of Cape Elizabeth, Maine:

When Martha’s mother was a young woman she had gone to HWR with Martha’s grandfather in the 1940s. As a gift, the HWR keeper had given her his brass dustpan marked ‘USLHS.’ The woman always felt guilty about having gotten government property as a gift.  She died long ago, but her daughter, Martha, gave it back to me/HWR when she visited me this summer. [See photos below] of Martha and me, and two older pictures of Martha’s mother on her visit to HWR when she was given the dustpan in the 1940s.

Based on emails from Ford Reiche, September 27, 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 · News

KATE’S CORNER #12

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

Ship Shoal
This screw-pile structure was built in the Gulf of Mexico between 1857 and 1859 to replace the lightship stationed on Ship Shoal. During the Civil War it was occupied by Confederate forces. Retaken by the Union in 1864, the lighthouse was repaired and refitted. Image courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office

We’ve heard about the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, being contaminated by lead. Light keepers too had problems with their water supply. On September 24, 1866, Acting Engineer Max Bonzano in New Orleans informed the Light-House Board in Washington that “on Ship Shoal [Light Station] every man ever sent there lost his health, which I attribute to the lead paint on the tower and the contamination of rain water with the oxide in lead.”

How could anyone live in an isolated lighthouse several miles off the Louisiana Coast, knowing the water was contaminated?

The solution to the contamination problem was outlined in the 1867 Annual Report of the Light-House Board:

“The continued presence of sickness among the keepers at this station (Ship Shoal) led to the supposition that it was caused by contamination of the drinking water by lead washed into the rain-water tanks from the red lead paint with which the whole structure was painted. The old lead color was scraped and washed off with a solution of caustic potash. This was so perfectly successful that the whole tower looked like new iron which had never been painted.  The potash solution was then rinsed off, and hot coal-tar applied in three successive coats. . . . At the same time the water tanks, and pipes leading to them, were taken down and cleaned with the greatest care, to remove every particle of sediment. The tanks and pipes were then coal-tarred inside and out, so as to envelop in the tar and render harmless any particles of lead salts which might have escaped the cleaning process.  The result of the operation was that the health of the keeper and his assistants at once improved, and there has been no sickness at the place since. The importance of removing the cause of the sickness prevailing at this place cannot well be overestimated. Several persons have been paralyzed, and this fact becoming known was likely to deter anyone from accepting the position of keeper.”

21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker copyInformation is taken from National Archives Record Group 26, Entry 5 (NC-63) and several Annual Reports of the Light-House Board.

Submitted October 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.

News · photography · Society Members

2018 Calendar Submission Mosaic

The U.S. Lighthouse Society asked its members to help them put together a 2018 calendar. Seventy-seven responded with an impressive array of images. See <https://uslhs.wordpress.com/photos/> for all the submissions organized by their submission category or theme. If you want to submit feedback on some of the finalists, you can “Like” your favorites on the Society’s Facebook page. We plan to have the calendar available for purchase in the Keeper’s Locker in time for holiday shopping.

Submitted by Candace Clifford September 22, 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.