“The Lighthouse Directory” moves to new digs

For many years, Russ Rowlett, a mathematics professor at the University of North Carolina, has been building one of the most useful lighthouse related sites on the Internet. The Lighthouse Directory provides information and links for more than 20,700 of the world’s lighthouses, divided into sections by countries and regions. There’s also a list of the latest lighthouse news headlines and other pertinent facts. Anyone who’s struggled to find information on a lighthouse, famous or obscure, has probably gone to the Lighthouse Directory in search of enlightenment at one time or another.

Russ informs us that the Lighthouse Directory now has a new home online:

Stop by for a visit, you’ll be glad you did!

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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


Rising sea levels a threat to lighthouses everywhere

Climate change–with the rising sea levels and frequency of extreme weather events that accompany it–is the elephant in the room when it comes to lighthouse preservation. Many of our coastal lighthouses, particular those on sandy beaches and bluffs, are threatened by erosion. Several have been moved in recent years to rescue them from extinction, and others have been saved by the implementation of expensive erosion control methods.

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, Rhode Island, was moved back from the edge of eroding Mohegan Bluffs in 1993 because it was threatened by erosion. Circa 2001 photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

In the UK, a project called STORMLAMP, coordinated by University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, and University College London, began studying the effects of rising sea levels on offshore rock (wave-swept) lighthouses in 2016. The project is working closely with the UK General Lighthouse Authorities (Trinity House, the Commissioners of Irish Lights, and the Northern Lighthouse Board) to formulate guidance for structural condition assessment and management of rock lighthouses.

You can read more on the STORMLAMP website by clicking here.

On November 22, the Associated Press released a story on the threat of rising sea levels to lighthouses in the United States. According to the article:

“In New Jersey, seas have risen by 1.3 feet (0.4 meters) over the past 100 years, said Benjamin Horton, a Rutgers University professor and leading expert on climate change and sea level rise. That is a faster pace than for the past 2,000 years combined, he said. Horton and other Rutgers researchers project that by 2050, seas off New Jersey will rise by an additional 1.4 feet.”

You can read this AP news story on the ABC4 News site (Charleston, SC)



Kaptain's Kolumn · News

The Kaptain’s Kolumn #8

Ahoy mateys, Captain Joshua Card here. Been getting the Portsmouth Harbor station ready for winter, and we have plenty of coal to heat the house and kerosene on hand for the light. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about a lighthouse keeper from down Rhode Island way, Horace Weeden Arnold.

Horace was born on May 17, 1839, into a family of lighthouse keepers on Prudence Island, a large island in Narragansett Bay. He served in the Civil War as a member of Company G, Fourth Rhode Island Infantry. After surviving three years in the war, Arnold nearly lost his life in a shipwreck on the Potomac River on his way home. After the Civil War, Arnold enlisted in the U.S. Navy. For some time he was pilot of the tug Nina, while Admiral George Dewey, then a lieutenant, was in command of the vessel. After his military service Arnold entered the coastal trade, but he decided he’d had enough after his schooner sank in Long Island Sound. He entered the Lighthouse Service in the early 1870s, first as an assistant at Beavertail Light in Jamestown.

Conimicut Lighthouse, early 1900s. Collection of Jeremy D’Entremont.

A new stone lighthouse was erected offshore from Conimicut Point in Warwick, Rhode Island, on November 1, 1868. The point extends out into the mouth of the Providence River in the form of a dangerous sand bar that was a menace to shipping. The lighthouse was described as a “staunch-looking round tower, built of large blocks of granite.” A fog bell with automatic striking machinery was attached to the tower, and a five-room keeper’s house was added on a pier adjacent to the lighthouse in 1873. On February 27, 1874, Horace Arnold was appointed keeper of this light.

A little over a year later, in early March 1875, Arnold was at the dwelling at Conimicut Light with his young son when drifting ice, driven by strong northeast winds, abruptly smashed into the structure. The Arnolds were lucky to escape with their lives as the house broke apart. They were rescued several hours later by the tug Reliance, captained by Nat Sutton. Sutton spotted Arnold on a mattress on a drifting ice floe, later describing him as “sitting like a man on a magic carpet.” The keeper’s hands and feet were frozen and it was some months before he could fully resume his duties.

According to the Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board for 1875, Arnold lost all his furniture, which was valued at $319. It took a congressional appropriation for him to be reimbursed – a full four years later!

Early postcard of Conanicut Lighthouse, Rhode Island. Collection of Jeremy D’Entremont.

After 11 more years at the new, rebuilt Conimicut Lighthouse, Arnold became keeper of the Conanicut Light at the northern tip of Jamestown in 1886. He once made a risky walk out onto the ice from the lighthouse to assist the passengers of a stranded vessel. The boat’s skipper presented the keeper with a captain’s chair for his considerable efforts, and the chair remained a treasured possession of the Arnold family for many years.

Arnold would start up the station’s foghorn on occasion for the entertainment of his young nephew, Archie. The sound thrilled and delighted Archie, who later said, “I shrank into my shoes.”

Arnold remained at Conanicut Light Station until his death from pneumonia in February 1914. He left his widow, Amy (Rathbun), a daughter, and three sons. His funeral was held during a raging blizzard at the Central Baptist Church in Jamestown. Horace Arnold, a lighthouse keeper for 42 years, was buried at the town’s Cedar Cemetery.


Refurbishing of Piedras Blancas (CA) lens to begin soon

The original First-order Fresnel lens and clockwork mechanism from Piedras Blancas Lighthouse are on display next to the Veteran’s Memorial Building in Cambria, California.  The lens is on loan from the Coast Guard to the Cambria Lions Club. A glass enclosure was built to house the lens and clockwork in 1996.

The Piedras Blancas lens on display in Cambria, photographed by Jeremy D’Entremont in April 2015.

Jim Woodward, one of the leading Fresnel lens experts in the United States, has prepared for the Piedras Blancas Light Station Association a detailed 10-page report on the condition of the lens and the building that houses it.  Soon, Woodward will clean the lens’s upper prisms. Volunteers, under his supervision, will assist with the more easily accessed prisms. Work is scheduled to begin in early December.

Click here to read more about this story in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.



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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


“Lighthouses of America” book wins gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America

NMS_3437Lighthouses of America by Tom Beard was awarded a Gold Medal for best Pictorial/Coffee Table Book by the Military Writers Society of America on November 10.

The MWSA review by Sandi Cowper included the following:

“Lighthouses of America is fascinating and would be a welcome addition to any library or coffee table.  The book teases the reader to seek these treasures out and visit first-hand.  It is the perfect gift for those who love the sea and all things nautical, and even for those who will just want to appreciate their unique history and beauty.”

Click here for more information and to buy the book.

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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


Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association (Michigan) looking for volunteer “keepers”

Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association (SPLKA), a non-profit organization, manages three historic lighthouses within a thirty-mile stretch of Lake Michigan’s shoreline.  Since 1987, members of SPLKA have worked tirelessly to restore, preserve, and make these lighthouses accessible.  SPLKA also operates a Volunteer Keepers program, which allows its members the opportunity to live and work at the lighthouses free of charge during a seven-month season, from May to October.

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Big Sable Point Lighthouse, 2007. U.S. Lighthouse Society archives.

SPLKA is currently seeking individuals to assist with its volunteer resident keeper program in 2019. Volunteers help the non-profit organization operate Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Little Sable Point Lighthouse, White River Light Station, and Ludington North Breakwater Lighthouse.

Clean and comfortable accommodations are offered free of charge within houses in Ludington State Park and Silver Lake State Park grounds. One week and two week tours are available, May through October.

Applications for membership and for the Lighthouse Keeper program are available on the SPLKA web site at To learn more about the program email or call Rachel Bendele at 231-845-7417.

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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

Journals of Florida's Keeper Thomas Patrick O'Hagan · News

Journals of Florida’s Keeper Thomas Patrick O’Hagan, Part 1

During recent renovations to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum’s administration building which resulted in additional space for our artifacts collection, I uncovered a pile of moldy, partly moth-eaten journals wrapped in twine.  They are unsigned, but contain, I am sure, the hand-written memoirs of Thomas Patrick O’Hagan, the Mosquito — later Ponce — Inlet Lighthouse’s second principal keeper (1893-1905) and principal keeper at Amelia Island Lighthouse (1905-1925).  Leafing through the books, the names, dates, locations, and wonderful recollections – it’s got to be Keeper O’Hagan. Written in five school composition books, O’Hagan, who served at many other Fifth and Sixth District stations in his almost fifty-year career, had some interesting stories to share about his life at the six very different lighthouses, and through his contacts and his family, other stations. I have transcribed the first “chapter” for you.  As a side note, the O’Hagan family has graciously shared with us at here at Ponce Inlet Lighthouse many other family keepsakes, mementoes and pictures. They also have done several extensive oral histories. T.P.’s handwriting is difficult to decipher, and the pages are somewhat brittle after all these years, but I will do the best I can. From time to time, I will take a crack at other sections of these journals.

— John F. Mann, Lead Docent, Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum   

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Four men in U.S. Lighthouse Service uniforms in front of the Amelia Island Lighthouse, circa 1924.  From left, Joseph O’Hagan, David O’Hagan, Thomas Patrick O’Hagan, and Thomas John O’Hagan. (Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Collection.)

March 13, 1927.

It’s a perfect spring morning on the porch of my new little house down the lane from the Amelia Island Lighthouse.  The station, located in Fernandina Beach, is just south of the St. Mary’s River, really on the border of Georgia to the north, and the beginning of the east coast of Florida.  Now, there’s an interesting story in and of itself. The Amelia Island Lighthouse started its service only a few miles to the north on Cumberland Island in Georgia and then got moved and rebuilt here to Florida.  I’ll get to that soon enough.

My son, Thomas John, and his wife, Helen, have been after me of late to write my story, and he says now is the perfect time to do so.  I think he just wants me to keep myself busy and out of his hair. For forty-nine years, I never really had the chance to write anything other than keeping the log, making supply requisitions, and posting correspondence to the District Office in Charleston.  Now that Thomas John has taken over Amelia, and doing a fine job just like I taught him, he nags at me to take pen in hand before I forget it all.  So, let me begin.

Let me tell you a little about myself.  Until two years ago I was the Principal Keeper here at Amelia Island, the oldest tower in Florida.  My wife, Julia, passed away in 1915. She and I had twelve children. Two of our sons, Thomas and David, are lighthouse keepers and a third, Joseph, served as a mate aboard a U.S. Lighthouse Tender and also on several lightships.  Now, I’m not one to fly my own kite, but I don’t think anyone else in the Lighthouse Service can say that four men in one family were on the job, all at once! Actually, five in one family, but not all at the same time, if you count my oldest brother John who served as an assistant at the Morris Island Lighthouse in Charleston and managed Charleston’s Harbor lights for thirty years until he drowned off Sullivan’s Island in 1909.  You know, now that I’m thinking about it, I should mention that I’m also related by marriage to Amos Latham, and his son, George. Amos was the head keeper for this tower when it was in Georgia, and came with it when it was moved here to Amelia. George was also keeper here at Amelia before the War to Preserve the Union. The Latham’s were on Julia’s mother’s side.

Thomas Patrick on porch of principal keeper’s residence at Amelia Island, 1923. (Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Collection.)

I was born in the City of Brooklyn, New York, on January 10, 1859 to Denis and Mariah Corr O’Hagan who married and emigrated together from Ireland to Liverpool to New York arriving on September 2, 1850 on the ship, West Point.  They had lived all their lives in Tullyniskan Parish, County Tyrone, in the north of Ireland. Like many others, The Great Hunger drove them from the land. I had two brothers and a sister. A few years after I was born, we moved to a farm in New Jersey.   For some reason, my father took my brothers, John and William, back to Ireland and they attended school while he worked as a stone mason on a cathedral. When they returned, we all moved south and settled in the Charleston area. When she comes to visit my house, I love telling my little granddaughter, Helen, about me growing up on a farm and milking 18 cows before dawn.  Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly eighteen, and maybe it was a little later than dawn, and maybe I helped with the pails and didn’t really milk them.

I joined the Bureau of Lighthouses at seventeen years as a part-time, assistant keeper at Hunting Island, South Carolina, starting the year of our Nation’s Centennial.  Two years later, I was appointed Keeper at Fort Ripley Shoals. Both stations are near Charleston. Also in 1878, Julia Catherine Schuppe and I married at Star of the Sea Catholic Church on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, and soon after we moved to the big, old, fine First Assistant’s house at the Morris Island Lighthouse.  We stayed at Morris Island for nine years. In July of 1887, we moved to Georgetown Lighthouse, south of Myrtle Beach, where the first four of our children, Mary Jane, Charlotte, Irene and Thomas John were born. In December of 1893, I swapped jobs with William Rowlinski, and became Head Keeper at the Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse, and he went to Georgetown as keeper.

Amelia Island Lighthouse, 2018. (Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Collection.)

Seven more of our children, Julia, Agnes, William, Edith, Joseph, James and David were born at Mosquito Station.  Speaking of that, my son David’s middle name is Cowie. We named after Doctor Cowie of New Smyrna. Yes, I rowed cross the inlet and down river in the station launch to get the doctor, in all kinds of weather, in order for him to look after Julia during difficult childbirths.  There was a nurse who helped for the others. Her name was Miss Agony. We laughed about that, but she was a good soul.

In September of 1905, we packed up our brood, and old Bessie our cow, and took the train up to the Amelia Island Light. When I retired Thomas John took over, and David became his assistant keeper that same year.  The Bureau must have liked my work, because the week that I retired they put out a very complimentary bulletin to all stations and said I was meritorious. I didn’t think I did anything special, any other keeper wouldn’t do.

Well, I have more than a few stories to share over an almost fifty years of a job, and a good one at that, but I guess I better close now and get another glass of lemonade.  Plus, my hand hurts from all the writing. Helen says it’s the arthritis.