Digest>Archives> December 2003

Keeper’s Korner

Tid-bits from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Life Saving Station lost

Durants Life Saving Station on the Outer Banks of North Carolina was lost during Hurricane Isabel. The old life-saving station had withstood storms for 124 years but the old building was no match for Isabel. Abandoned in 1939, the station was in the process of being restored but has now completely disappeared. The station was run by the United States Life-Saving Service, a sister organization of the United States Lighthouse Service. Both organizations were eventually merged into the United States Coast Guard.

Where will Currituck’s money now be spent?

Now that the Outer Banks Conservationists have finally secured the rightful ownership of the Currituck Lighthouse one can only hope that the local county officials who wasted taxpayer money in trying to stop OBC from gaining ownership will start spending money more wisely. As one local stated, “The citizens of Currituck were the victims. A park at Coinjock sits waiting to be fully utilized by citizens. Moyock, the main population center of Currituck, does not have a park or recreational facility. An area in Harbinger has yet to be developed as a park or recreational area for citizens and visitors to Currituck. One can only hope that the county government officials of Currituck County have learned a valuable lesson and will spend the taxpayers’ money more wisely in the future.” However, informed sources now say the County government is considering blocking off the road that leads to the lighthouse. Could that be true? Could the County government continue to waste taxpayer money to make the lighthouse inaccessible to the public? We’ll keep you posted.

Grant awarded for New Presque Isle

Michigan’s New Presque Isle Lighthouse, near Alpena, has been awarded a $91,500.00 grant to be used toward the restoration of its 134-year old Fresnel lens. The Coast Guard recently removed the lens from the tower and county officials hope that once the lens is restored they will be able to convince the Coast Guard to put the lens back into the tower.

Coal Shed gone

As reports continue to trickle in, we have learned that Hurricane Isabel destroyed the old coal shed next to Cape Lookout Lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And another slice of lighthouse history is gone.

Lighthouse designs are everywhere

The folks in Traverse City Michigan, especially those who live on Bay Street, are enjoying a Cape Hatteras Lighthouse lookalike on a new steel power pole. The pole was painted with blue stripes to resemble a lighthouse, very similar to North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. However, some Michiganders might say the idea came from their White Shoals Lighthouse, which also has the barber pole style stripes.

Hudson-Athens Light in trouble?

New York’s Hudson-Athens Lighthouses may be slowly buckling and may eventually collapse from the old age of the pilings that hold the lighthouse in place in the Hudson River. According to a preliminary underwater video report the corners of the lighthouse’s underwater timber foundation are sagging. Other experts have been called in to investigate and give their reports. The lighthouse dates back to the late 1800’s.

Nubble Light reverse

Maine’s famous Nubble Lighthouse, known to some by its real name, Cape Neddick Light Station, has been reversed on a puzzle manufactured by Warren Industries, which sells the puzzle to mass markets such as Wal-Mart. It seems that somehow during their manufacturing process the negative got flipped and the puzzle design was printed backwards showing the tower to the left of the keeper’s house instead of on the right side of the house. As well as reversing the negative, the company used an old photograph, showing two windows in the front upstairs of the keeper’s house, something that was changed years ago. Ronda Tidrick of Warren Industries, whose job it is to make sure the puzzles are done correctly, said she had never been or even seen a photograph of Nubble Light prior to this and had no idea it was done wrong. Hopefully, in the future, they will call or visit our web site first, before completing other lighthouse puzzles.

Lighthouses for airplanes

Many of you may not be aware that the old United States Lighthouse Service had an Airways Division, which built and maintained lights to guide airplanes to and from destinations in the days before radio and radar. However, much of the information on the old Airways Division of the U.S. Lighthouse Service has disappeared over the years. Pharologist Lee Scherwitz is now researching this lost part of U.S. history and is hoping that some of our readers might be able to guide him to old records, documents and stories. Lee is no stranger to airplanes; he served in the U.S. Air Force for many years and is now the Airport Director for the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport in Benton Harbor, Michigan. If any of our readers can help, you can write to him at Lee Scherwitz, Southwest Michigan Regional Airport, 1123 Territorial Road, Benton Harbor, MI 49202 or email him at director@swmiairport.com

Bald Head Light may disappear

North Carolina’s Bald Head Lighthouse may soon disappear from the city seal of Southport, NC. The city is conducting a contest to come up with a new seal, which may or may not have the lighthouse on it. Gloria Jones who won the last contest in 1964 originally designed the current seal, which features Bald Head Light, known more affectionately as Old Baldy. However, she claims that the design she submitted back then actually had Prices Creek Lighthouse on it. When the seal was made, someone changed Prices Creek to Bald Head Lighthouse, which has been on the city seal ever since.

Michigan UP lights get funds

Three lighthouses in Michigan’s upper peninsula will be getting much needed money from Clean Michigan Initiative. Escanaba Light is getting $37,000, Whitefish Point will receive $48,347 and the Marquette Lighthouse got $37,000 toward its restoration project, which began last spring.

Big grant awarded for St. Clair Flats

A 14-year battle to save Michigan’s South Channel Range Lights has paid off with a $450,000 State of Michigan grant. The grant money, combined with $150,000 in local matching funds, will hopefully provide the needed money to restore the two lighthouses that were built in 1859. The grant money comes from the Clean Michigan Initiative mentioned above. Restoration is expected to begin this spring, said Chuck Brockman, president of Save Our South Channel Lights. The group has already spent $100,000.00 to stop the lighthouse from collapsing by building a seawall around one tower and fortifying the base of the other one. Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm stressed that saving the lighthouses not only helps save history but will be a boost to the state’s tourism industry. When restored, the lighthouses will be open to the public for tours.

Pointe Betsie also gets big money

The Friends of Michigan’s Pointe Betsie Lighthouse are elated over a recent grant from the Clean Michigan Initiative. The $431,000 grant will go a long way to restoring the historic lighthouse, which is one of Michigan’s most photographed. This past spring marked the first time the lighthouse was open to the public. The 7,000 visitors and 500 members of the Friends group contributed toward $143,000 in matching money toward the grant.

Starfish arrives at Rose Island

Rhode Island’s Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation now has a new boat to transport guests and tourists to its restored lighthouse. The new boat was welcomed by supporters at a local pier. Rose Island Lighthouse is available for overnight stays. Learn more about the lighthouse on the web at www.roseisland.org

Alabama Lighthouse gets new owner

Alabama’s 131-foot tall Sand Island Lighthouse is getting a new owner, which according to the Alabama Lighthouse Association will hopefully open the doors for grant money. The federal government has approved the transfer from federal ownership to that of Dauphin Island, AL. The town will be creating a lighthouse committee to work with the Alabama Lighthouse Association to raise the estimate $2 million that is needed to restore the lighthouse. The lighthouse, built in 1872, once stood on an island, which has since disappeared leaving the lighthouse by itself resting on rocks.


On page 31 of the November 2003 issue of Lighthouse Digest, we forgot the credits for the graphic of the Morris Island Lighthouse. It should have been credited courtesy of the Charleston Post and Courier. We apologize for the omission.

You can bank on Pemaquid

The First National Bank of Damariscotta recently celebrated the installation of a commissioned oil painting by Maine artist Ronald Parry. Bank officials apparently love Pemaquid Point Lighthouse since they named their investment management division Pemaquid Advisors and use the lighthouse in many of their advertisements.

Odessa Light undergoes major change

Michigan’s Odessa Lighthouse now has a new house standing next to it. The new owner said the old home at the site was beyond repair and needed to come down. The lighthouse known by many around the country as the Odessa Lighthouse was actually built in 1938 by a man named Ernest York and was part of a nine-acre parcel of 1,400 feet of waterfront. The original 37-foot tall lighthouse was covered with cement and painted white. In 1985 a stone exterior was added and the Lighthouse Restaurant was opened at the site, which obviously has since gone out of business. At one time the tower had a flashing red light in it, which owner Vito Fraccorolli plans to reinstall.

Head Harbour Days draws crowd

Canada’s Head Harbour Lighthouse drew a big crowd for their 4th annual Lighthouse Day. A variety of music, an auction and good food complete with perfect weather made for a great day. Located on Campobello Island, Canada, just off Maine’s coast this is truly one of the most spectacular lighthouse sites on the Atlantic coast. Easy to get to by car from Lubec, Maine is it recommended to everyone.

Ontonagon Light changes hands

It seems like it’s harder and harder to keep up with all the transfers of ownerships these days. A seven-year quest for ownership of Michigan’s Ontonagon Lighthouse has come to a close with ownership having now been transferred to the Ontonagon County Historical Society. The group had previously leased the lighthouse from the Army Corps of Engineers.

First ever tour

Michigan’s Little Traverse Lighthouse in Harbor Springs recently held its first ever tour of the historic lighthouse. The tour of the privately owned lighthouse was a joint project of the Harbor Point Association and the Harbor Springs Historical Society.

DeTour Reef update

Restoration work has stopped for the season at Michigan’s DeTour Reef Lighthouse, but a great deal has been accomplished. As restoration plans continue with the springtime in mind, local officials are trying to figure out ways to get tours to the lighthouse on a regular basis by June 2005 when restoration is fully completed. This will be no easy task since the offshore lighthouse was never built with public tours in mind.

Maine lighthouse goes to Britain

The Daily Telegraph newspaper of London, England recently did a fashion story at Maine’s Kennebec River Range Lights. Also known as the Doubling Point Range Lights, they are managed by the Range Light Keepers.

This story appeared in the December 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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