Terry Pepper, friend to all who love lighthouses, 1948-2019

Terry Pepper

One of the leaders of the lighthouse community left us on Saturday, February 23, when Terry Pepper died of cancer at his home in Brutus, Michigan, at the age of 70.

Terry was involved with the lighthouses of the Great Lakes since the late 1980s. His website, Seeing the Light, is a wonderful, extensive resource on the lighthouses of the Great Lakes. He joined the board of directors of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association in 1999 and became the organization’s first executive director in 2007.

Announcing the news of his passing on Saturday on their Facebook page, the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance posted:

“Terry Pepper passed away quietly today with his beloved Mary by his side at home, just the way they wanted. He was such a great person whose love of lighthouses was only eclipsed by his love of lighthouse people. Well miss you Terry, thanks for lighting the way for so many of us.”

Tom Tag of the U.S. Lighthouse Society posted on the USLHS Facebook page:

“Yesterday the lighthouse community lost one of its leaders and a great man. Terry Pepper lost his battle with cancer and the lighthouse movement lost a leader and good friend.

I first met Terry in the late 1990s when he came to my home in Ohio to discuss lighthouses and to trade information. At that time Terry was only known for his Seeing the Light website. It was only a few years later that Terry began traveling from his home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA) in Mackinaw City, Michigan, every weekend. He made these trips week after week to volunteer his time and resources to help GLLKA in any way that he could.

Terry’s lighthouse knowledge was fantastic. He studied lighthouses, he wrote about lighthouses, he collected information about lighthouses, he gave speeches about lighthouses at various conferences and meetings. It was only a few years later that he became the Executive Director of GLLKA.

We, who are interested in lighthouses, will have a nearly impossible task to try to replace Terry’s knowledge, friendship, and management skills. He was Mr. Lighthouse for the Great Lakes and his passing leaves a major hole in our community.

Goodbye to our friend and fair sailing!”



Lighthouse News of the Week

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Grosse Ile North Channel Range Front Light, Michigan. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Chad Kaiser

Grosse Ile Lighthouse (MI) gets funding for repairs after ice damage

On February 7, strong winds forced ice floes against Grosse Ile Lighthouse (also known as the Grosse Ile North Channel Front Range Light) on the Detroit River in Michigan, breaching its metal railings and causing damage. On February 20, the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program announced that the Township of Grosse Ile will receive a $40,000 grant to hire contractors to carry out extensive renovations at the lighthouse. The grant was part of $113,000 awarded by the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program from the sale of specialty license plates sold in Michigan.

A $40,000 grant was announced to hire a consultant to produce a Historic Structure Report (HSR) for the North Manitou Shoal Light to guide future rehabilitation in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

Finally, the Keweenaw County Historical Society will use a $33,000 grant to hire contractors to replace or rehabilitate 12 double-hung wood windows, rehabilitate two original wood casement windows in the tower and build and install 13 new storm windows at the lighthouse on Lake Superior.

You can read more on this story here and here.

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One year after being paralyzed with rare disease, woman climbs 219 steps of St. Augustine Lighthouse (FL)

On February 19 (2/19), 2018, Malea Guiriba was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome, or GBS. She became paralyzed in a matter of days. She was told she might never walk again.

Stairs at St. Augustine Lighthouse. Wikimedia Commons photo by S.W. Clyde.

Malea has been an activist who created created a program called Pie in the Sky that provides food to hundreds of elderly in St. Johns County, Florida.

You need to check out this article (be sure to watch the video) to see what this strong-willed woman did one year after her diagnosis. This may not be lighthouse news, exactly, but it’s the kind of positive news we can all use.

Click here for the story.

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Lighthouse Lecture at the Carrabelle History Museum (FL)

The Carrabelle History Museum (Florida) is hosting a free program about the Lighthouses of the Forgotten Coast, featuring the St. Marks Lighthouse and the Crooked River Lighthouse, this Saturday, Feb. 23 at C-Quarters Marina, 501 St. James Ave (Hwy 98), Carrabelle, FL. Seating for the program, from 10 a.m. to noon, is first come, first served, and is limited to the first 100 people. The Carrabelle History Museum will be joined by Ken Clineman, historic and environmental interpreter for St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, and Joan Matey, curator for Crooked River Lighthouse.

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Overnight accommodations at Haig Point Lighthouse, South Carolina

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Haig Point Lighthouse 1883 (U.S. Coast Guard)

South Carolina’s Haig Point Lighthouse (a.k.a. Haig Point Range Rear), on Daufuskie Island just south of Hilton Head, has a colorful legend that concerns a keeper’s daughter named Maggie. Maggie’s father, Patrick Comer, was the first keeper of the lighthouse in 1873 and his family lived at Haig Point for 18 years. Maggie fell in love with an engineer who was doing some work at the lighthouse, the story goes. Something unexpected occurred and the couple parted; he left and never returned, leaving her with a broken heart. Residents and visitors over the years have claimed they felt the presence of Maggie at the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is now available as a guesthouse with two bedrooms, kitchen, dining room and porch overlooking Calibogue Sound. It’s also a venue for weddings, special events, and private parties. Maybe you’ll even get to meet Maggie.

Click here for rates and availability and photos of the property

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U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast “Light Hearted” to premiere on April 22

The new U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted,” hosted by author Jeremy D’Entremont, will be full of interviews with people in the world of lighthouse preservation and education, along with special features and surprises. Each new episode will be posted here, and it will be available through iTunes and other venues. We will keep you posted!

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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 #10

Early 1900s postcard of Fuller Rock Lighthouse, collection of Jeremy D’Entremont

Captain Joshua Card here, down at Portsmouth Harbor Light Station in New Castle, New Hampshire. We’re looking forward to a new paint job for the tower this spring. Thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you about a colorful character who was a contemporary of mine down in Rhode Island, John Mullen—better known as Captain Jack.

Captain Jack was hired in April 1886 to be the keeper of two small lights on the Providence River, Fuller Rock and Sassafras Point. These little structures barely qualified as lighthouses. They were twin hexagonal pyramids, only about 14 feet tall, with small cast-iron lanterns. They were both put into operation in 1872. Fuller Rock was in the middle of the main shipping channel to Providence, while Sassafras Point was about a mile north near the river’s western shore. The lights never had keepers’ houses; instead, the government hired local men who row to the lights to care for them.

A Providence Journal article by Wilfred Stone later described “Captain Jack” as a “character of the old school.” At social gatherings, he was a master of clog dancing, “keeping hop to the pick of the banjo when he was scores of years older than most dancers.”

The article described a harrowing accident that befell Captain Jack while he was a lighthouse keeper in the 1890s. It was brutally cold and windy on New Year’s Eve one year as Mullen sailed in his yawl from one light on the Providence River to the other. Luckily, he was dressed warmly in many layers. “It was tough pulling,” wrote Stone, “but his lights were burning at sunset as his orders called for.”

Early 1900s postcard of Sassafras Point Lighthouse, collection of Jeremy D’Entremont

On his way home after “lighting up,” Mullen’s small boat overturned near Kettle Point on the east side of the river and he found himself “struggling to gain a toehold on the bottom.” Fortunately, nearby resident Ed Grogan saw the keeper’s plight. Grogan launched his own boat and soon rescued the cold and soggy, but no doubt grateful, Captain Jack.

The day after his near-death experience, Mullen had a conversation with a devout female acquaintance. “Surely the Lord was with you when you were in the water,” said the woman. “He certainly was on my side,” replied Jack. When asked if he was thinking of the Lord throughout the experience, Mullen surprised the woman by answering in the negative. “Why, what else could you have been thinking of?” she asked. “How in blazes I was going to get ashore,” said the always-practical Captain Jack.

Sassafras Point Light was removed in 1912. Late in the morning of February 5, 1923, a crew aboard the lighthouse tender Pansy arrived to install new acetylene tanks at Fuller Rock. The men first removed the empty old tanks, and then installed six new ones, each about six feet long and weighing about 300 pounds.

After lunch, the men went back just to make sure everything was in proper order. Just as the crewmen were boarding the pier next to the light, there was a terrific explosion that could be heard a mile away. Five men were sent hurtling through the air onto the sharp rocks below. There were no fatalities, but the men’s injuries ranged from facial burns to broken legs. The lighthouse structure was completely destroyed by the fire that resulted from the blast.



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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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
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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 (

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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

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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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


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