Lighthouse News of the Week

On Tuesday, December 18, we lost one of the world’s great lighthouse photographers with the death of John Eagle. He was the first person to make a postcard of every Irish lighthouse, traveling by helicopter and high-speed boat to capture his images. John passed away at the age of 64 at his home on the Beara Peninsula in Ireland.

In November, the Commissioners of Irish Lights paid tribute to Eagle by presenting a framed original design drawing of the landmark Fastnet Rock lighthouse–one of his favorites–to him. And just weeks before his death, the sale of his 2019 lighthouse photo calendars raised €2,000 for Cancer Connect.

According to an article in The Southern Star, “At 6’5” you couldn’t miss John, but he had a sort of omnipresence too in that he was talkative and always at the heart of so many local artistic events, exhibitions and endeavors.”

Click here to visit John Eagle’s website and to see his photography.


18 Sullivans Island LH 1
Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse, SC (U.S. Lighthouse Society photo)

Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse in Charleston, South Carolina, may look more like an airport control tower than a traditional lighthouse, but it’s often referred to as the last lighthouse built by the federal government in the United States. Constructed in 1962 just south of busy Charleston Harbor, the 140-foot-tall tower boasts two things unique in American lighthouses: air conditioning and an elevator. Its  triangular design allows the structure to withstand hurricane force winds of up to 125 mph.

None of those things helped it in early November, when it suddenly went dark. According to this article in The Post and Courier, the Coast Guard has not been able to figure out exactly what the problem is. The DCB-224 aerobeacon-type system will have to be removed, and it could be another month or so before it’s up and running again with a completely new system. “It will be great to see it working again,” said Dawn Davis, public affairs officer for Fort Sumter National Monument. “We get lots of inquiries.”


Graves Lighthouse, photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

Graves Lighthouse, a sturdy, wave-swept tower in outer Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, has been beautifully restored by its owners, our friends Dave and Lynn Waller. Dave posted a video the other day of the placement of a first-ever Christmas wreath on the door of the lighthouse.

“Even though the lighthouse is buttoned up tight for the winter, we can enjoy it year round thanks to central heat and solar power,” he said. “The winter birds have replaced the summer birds and the seals are mostly gone, but it’s beautiful here any time of year!”

You can see the video on the Boston Globe website.

Wishing you all a bright and Happy 2019!



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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 Jeremy at

Kaptain's Kolumn · News

The Kaptain’s Kolumn #9

Joshua Card here. I hope you’ve been enjoying this happy season. I’ve had a very merry Christmas eve and day with my daughter and some friends, but I promise you it wasn’t so merry that it interfered in any way with my light keeping duties. There was a little light snow to heighten the holiday mood, but not enough to effect visibility and there was no need to wind the fog bell mechanism.

Captain Amos Baker (New Bedford Public Library)

My thoughts drift to Amos Baker, keeper of Butler Flats Light down New Bedford way. Like me, Amos was widowed, and also like me, he took comfort from visits from his daughter, Amy. Captain Baker wrote the following entry in the keeper’s log on Christmas Day in 1907:

A pleasant Christmas Day. . . . Squally in the evening, but we had some music from the phonograph so we had sunshine inside.

Like my station here at Portsmouth Harbor, Butler Flats had a fog bell with a striking mechanism that had to be wound periodically to produce a double blow every 15 seconds.

The bell could also be sounded manually by pulling a rope, and Amy Baker enjoyed saluting passing vessels with the bell. The renowned Captain Joshua Slocum—the first man to sail single-handedly around the world—once gave Amy a copy of a booklet about his sloop Spray with the inscription, “To the little girl who rang the bell each time I passed the light.”

Early 1900s postcard of Butler Flats Lighthouse (collection of Jeremy D’Entremont)

Amy Baker wrote of the fog bell:

To one not used to it, it would seem almost unbearable when going for any length of time, but I have often been told in the morning that it had been running during the night, when I knew nothing of it, sleeping soundly all the while. Vessels are saluted by this bell.

The Baker family found Butler Flats Light a pleasant place to live in summer, but winters were a different story. Amy Baker wrote:

In the winter ice shakes the light a good deal at times and it is scarcely pleasant to have the chair in which you sit shake and realize what might happen if the ice proved stronger than the iron plates of the caisson.

When Amos Baker Jr. died in 1911, his obituary stated, “For 13 years he lived in Butler Flats Lighthouse. Visitors occasionally came alongside, and Captain Baker’s cheery, ‘Come aboard!’ always made them glad to obey and see the old seaman’s comfortable house.” Visitors’ signatures in the register included that of President Grover Cleveland.

Happy New Year to one and all!



Lighthouse News of the Week

Two of the big lighthouse stories of the past week involve first-order Fresnel lenses, the true “jewels” of the lighthouses.

Kurt Fosburg, one of a small number of lampists in the United States who is qualified to work on classical lenses, has completed a restoration of the magnificent lens at Pensacola Lighthouse in Florida. The project is part of a $3 million overall restoration of the lighthouse. The lens has seen plenty in its lifetime: damage during the Civil War, vibration, and an invasion by a flock of ducks. And then there was the Coast Guardsman who accidentally broke some of the glass during a cleaning.

To celebrate the completion of the lens restoration, a series of special events are planned in January.  For more information click here.

The other big lens story is the moving of the first-order lens from Gay Head Lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to a new, larger location for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. The lens move is just one part of a massive relocation of tens of thousands of archival items, as well as 12,000 three-dimensional objects from the museum’s old campus in Edgartown to its new location at a renovated Marine Hospital site in Vineyard Haven.

The Gay Head lens in its old location at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Edgartown

Katy Fuller, the operations director of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, said the lens move was the most complicated part of the overall museum relocation. A grant enabled the museum to hire lampist Jim Woodward, who oversaw the installation of the lens in a new glass pavilion.

You can read more about this story here, and you can see a wonderful time lapse video of the lens installation on YouTube here.

In lighthouse preservation news, the Town of North Hempstead, New York, announced that it hopes to outlay $1.25 million to aid the Stepping Stones Lighthouse, in Long island Sound northwest of Great Neck. The funds would complete the design and construction of a dock. The lighthouse rehabilitation is a joint project between the Great Neck Park District, Great Neck Historical Society, and the Town of the North Hempstead, which became the steward of the deteriorating lighthouse in 2008.

Stepping Stones Lighthouse in 2016. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

You can read more here, and you can visit the Stepping Stones Lighthouse Preservation Project website here.

Lastly, there was a fascinating article a couple of days ago in the Chinook Observer about one of the most celebrated lighthouses on the west coast of the U.S. — Oregon’s Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, a.k.a. “Terrible Tilly.” The article details the daunting construction of the light station atop a “100-foot-high basalt monolith,” and it tells the sad story of a shipwreck near the rock in January 1881.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, 2015 photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

The story on Terrible Tilly closes by quoting an 1888 article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The sarcasm of calling the ocean that beats on the Oregon coast ‘the Pacific’ was never better shown than in the recent storm, when waves dashed over the top of the Tillamook lighthouse, 100 feet above sea level. … the Tillamook light was put out for several days because of the breaking of the glass [which is five-eighths of an inch thick] in the tower.

Click here to read the story on Tillamook Rock Lighthouse in the Chinook Observer.

The idea that the Pacific Ocean is hardly peaceful much of the time has been proven by the rough seas of recent weeks. 

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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 Jeremy at

Education · Kate's Corner · News

Kate’s Corner #26

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef. It may surprise you to know that I spent part of every day on paperwork. John taught me how to keep the records and make the reports, but after he died, I relied on my son Jacob to put my words onto the report forms because writing in English was difficult for me. I always signed them.

I had to submit a monthly report on the condition of the station and make explicit specifications for any needed repairs. Expenditures of oil, etc., and salary vouchers were to be submitted quarterly. Property returns were submitted annually along with receipts for extra supplies and for their delivery. I signed a receipt for all the station property when I took charge.

Robbins Reef NY NA RG 26 Entry 1 nc-63 601 files-15
From National Archives RG 26 Entry 1 (NC-63)

The 1880 Laws and Regulations Relating to the Light-House Establishment of the United States listed 68 different types of forms used in managing the Lighthouse Service. I was to forward to District Inspector Commander A.S. Snow reports of shipwrecks, any damage to station apparatus, and any unusual occurrence. I kept a daily expenditure book, a general account book, and a journal in which I recorded the work I’d done that day, any visit of the Inspector or Engineer or of the lampist or machinist, or any delivery of stores.

Also any item of interest occurring in the vicinity, such as the state of the weather, or other similar matter. Although it wasn’t specified, I recorded every visitor who came to the lighthouse, because there weren’t many.

Among my unexpected visitors was a box containing a dead baby, which I rowed to the coroner on Staten Island. On another day a young couple out rowing were carried onto the reef by the tide and stove a hole in the bow of their rowboat. The girl was frantic because she couldn’t get home that night. Fortunately a friend of my daughter Mamie rowed out to the lighthouse that evening to pay a call. He agreed to take them ashore, where they promptly got married and avoided a scandal.

didn’t report these to the Light-House Board.


Information is from the 1881 Instructions to Lightkeepers, National Archives Record Group 26 Entry 1, Volume 753; and the New York Times, March 5, 1906.


New features coming in the New Year!

We’ll be introducing some new features here soon, set to a more regular schedule. We’ll be posting original content on Wednesdays, including “Kate’s Corner,” “Kaptain’s Kolumn,” and more. There will be a weekly roundup of the week’s lighthouse news on Fridays.

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, New Castle, New Hampshire (Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont)

And watch for the introduction of a new U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast by early spring!  It will be titled “Lightheaded,” and I (Jeremy D’Entremont) will be the host. It will feature interviews with people from all over the U.S. (and beyond) involved with lighthouse history, preservation, the arts, and more. In other words, we’ll focus on anything and everything having to do with lighthouses and our relationship to them. I can’t wait to get started.

In the meantime, wishing everyone a bright and Happy Holiday Season!


U.S. Lighthouse Society 2019 Calendar – This Calendar Supports Lighthouses!

#3 Calendar 2015
Front Cover: Barnegat, NJ – Edward Hewitt

Lighthouses are not only important historical structures representing our maritime heritage, they are also architectural wonders. Located in stunning picturesque locations, they are inspirational in nature and are often lovingly memorialized by all kinds of artists including writers, photographers, and film makers.

Simply “being” at a lighthouse and enjoying its surrounding property is a deeply meaningful experience to most, and something that creates a lasting memory. This year we challenged our members to present their best photos in seven different categories.

Click here to order your 2019 calendar today!

Here are the photos that were selected for the 2019 calendar:

01 Weather - South_Haven MI_by_Michael_McKinney
Weather: South Haven, MI – Michael McKinney
02 Tech - Jupiter_Lighthouse_FL_2014_by_Christine_Pabst
Technology: Jupiter, FL – Christine Pabst
03 Pres Project - Sandy Point Shoal_Dave Jurgensen
Preservation Project: Sandy Point Shoal, MD – David Jurgensen
04 Reflection - Spurn_Lightship_Hull_England_2017_by_Yvette_Dills
Reflection: Spurn Lightship, Hull, England – Yvette Dills
05 Landscape - Castillo_San_Filipe_Del_Morro_Lighthouse_in_Puerto_Rico_2...
Landscape: Castillo San Filipe Del Morro, Puerto Rico – Michael Smith
06 Landscape - Mobile_Bay_AL_2014_by_Rich_Buckner
Landscape: Mobile Bay, Alabama – Rich Buckner
07 Abstract - Anclote Key _Carlene Bruha .
Abstract: Anclote Key, FL – John Bruha
08 Sunrise - Hillsboro_Inlet_2013-01-06._Ralph Krugler
Sunrise – Hillsboro Inlet, FL – Ralph Krugler
09 Abstract - FoweyRocksFL2015byEric_S._Martin
Abstract – Fowey Rocks, FL – Eric Martin

10 Reflection - Boston_Harbor_MA_2012_by_Rick_Schneider
Reflection – Boston Harbor, MA – Rick Schneider
11 Grand Haven Lights, MI by Bill Bates
Weather – Grand Haven Lights, MI – Bill Bates
12 Weather - Port Austin Reef_Hallie Wilson
Port Austin Reef, MI – Hallie Wilson
000 Back Cover -Reflection - New_Canal_LA_2018_by_David_Zapatka
Back Cover: New Canal, LA – David Zapatka

 2019 Honorable Mention

Russ Katje, Betty Veronico, Jeannette O’Neal, Dave Waller, Michael Douglas, Michael Unruh

A big thank you to all of you who submitted your wonderful photos! 


Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper Program is accepting applicants for 2019

Tawas Point State Park is located on the shores of Lake Huron, 2.5 miles southeast of East Tawas in Iosco County, Michigan. The most iconic feature of the park is the Victorian‐era Tawas Point Lighthouse.

Tawas Point Lighthouse (USLHS archives)

The Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper Program provides participants the privilege of living at one of Michigan’s most notable lighthouses, and assisting in its preservation and presentation to the public.

Interested? Click here to find out more and to apply for the program.

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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 Jeremy at