We believe the Lighthouse Digest “Doomsday List” has helped draw public attention to these and other endangered lighthouses. Some of the photos clearly show how endangered the lighthouses are. However, do not be deceived by photographs of some of the lighthouses that give an appearance that the structure is in good condition.
West Rigolets Light, Louisiana - Built 1885, it is located in Rigolets Channel in the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans, Louisiana. Deactivated in 1945, the now privately owned, dilapidated and unstable lighthouse could easily be destroyed in any major storm or the first hurricane of the season. Although the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission has stated the lighthouse is “worthy of protection,” the future of this lighthouse is doubtful.
Cape St. George Light, Florida - Built in 1852 to replace an earlier tower destroyed in a storm in 1851, this lighthouse is in imminent danger of collapse. Located on Little George Island in the Gulf of Mexico, efforts have been made by citizens from nearby Apalachicola to save the lighthouse. However, continuing erosion could cause the lighthouse to easily topple in the first major storm of the season.
Turtle Island Light, Ohio - Built in 1866, on a small island at the northeast mouth of the Maumee River on Lake Erie near Harbor View, Ohio, the lighthouse was abandoned when the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse replaced it. There were brief restoration efforts over the years but not much remains of the old light station since a 1965 tornado tore off the lantern room. The private owners say they plan to restore the lighthouse.
Isles of Shoals Light, New Hampshire - The present tower here built in 1859 is now owned by the State of New Hampshire where public officials have stated they were not aware that they were required to maintain and restore the lighthouse when they took ownership of the structure from the Coast Guard a number of years ago. We wonder what they think the word ownership meant? Also known as White Island Lighthouse, cracks in the tower could cause it to collapse in any severe storm. The Lighthouse Kids have raised over $25,000 and a recent grant from Save America's Treasures may soon save New England's most endangered lighthouse.
Pass Manchac Light, Louisiana - Built in 1857, the tower at Pass Manchac was abandoned in 1952 when the lighthouse was automated. In 1987, the Coast Guard deactivated the tower and its light was removed. Located in Pass Manchac between Lakes Maurepas and Ponchartrain near Ponchatoula, Louisiana, the Lake Maurepas Society is trying to save the lighthouse. The lantern room has been removed for restoration and pilings have been installed around the base of the tower in an attempt to stabilize it. However, whether or not it can be saved remains to be seen.
Southwest Pass Light, Louisiana - Located at the entrance to the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico near Venice, Louisiana, the 1873 tower was abandoned in 1953. The keeper's quarters were located at the base of the lighthouse. At this time, we are unaware of any organized efforts to attempt to save the structure.
Fort Carroll Lighthouse, Maryland - Located on the grounds of old Fort Carroll the lighthouse has been abandoned since 1945. The fort and the lighthouse have been privately owned since 1958. Over the years, there have been talks about preserving and restoring the historic site but nothing has been done and the future for saving the lighthouse is dim.
Sabine Pass Light, Louisiana - Located in Sabine Pass, Louisiana the 1856 tower was deactivated in 1952 and sold at auction. In May 2001, a nonprofit group was formed to try and raise money to restore and save the historic lighthouse.
Fishing Battery Lighthouse, Maryland - Built in 1853, the lighthouse has been abandoned since 1921. Since then the lighthouse has fallen into a serious state of deterioration. The lighthouse became part of the Susquehanna National Wildlife Refuge, which is part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in 1942. Little, if anything, has been done to save the lighthouse. Its future remains questionable.
Bodie Island Light, North Carolina - Located on the outer banks of North Carolina, Bodie Island Lighthouse recently received a new coat of paint and the tower looks new from the outside. However, the famous landmark has not had any major restoration work since it was built in 1872. A report by the National Park Service, which now owns the tower, states that the tower is unsafe and unstable due to significant and extensive deterioration. In fact, the first order Fresnel lens in the tower is in danger of collapsing through the lantern room deck if repairs are not made soon. The National Park Service has a $2 million plan in place to restore the structure.
Gull Rock Light, Michigan - Located on a rock two miles east of Keweenaw Point in Lake Superior near Copper Harbor, Michigan, this “schoolhouse” type of lighthouse dates back to 1867. The lighthouse was put up for adoption under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act and through some apparent misunderstandings, no one applied for ownership. The process has been reopened and hopefully a group will come forward. However, saving the lighthouse, which is surrounded by dangerous reefs, will be an expensive undertaking.
Prices Creek, South Carolina - Built in mid-1850s, the Prices Creek Lighthouse is the only lighthouse that remains from a series of lighthouses built to direct shipping along a 25-mile length of the Cape Fear River. The lighthouse was discontinued after the Civil War. There has been much discussion in the past of saving the lighthouse but nothing has been done. Located on property owned by Archer Daniels Midland Co., the lighthouse could be saved through their resources but, to the best of our knowledge, they have shown little, if any, interest in saving the lighthouse.
Morris Island Light, South Carolina - Located near Folly Beach at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, the Morris Island Lighthouse was built in 1876 and automated in 1938. By 1948, the island it once stood on had disappeared, leaving only the tower completely surrounded by water. The government officially abandoned the tower in 1962. In 1999, the lighthouse was purchased by Save The Light Inc. and started the necessary steps to plan a $6-million restoration, which has been delayed by legal complications. However, the group believes that restoration will begin in 2005, provided the lighthouse is still standing.
Pass A L'Outre Light, Louisiana - Built in 1855 on the Mississippi River Delta near Venice, Louisiana, the once black and white, spiral-striped Pass A L'Outre Lighthouse was abandoned in 1930. The keeper's house and other out buildings no longer stand and only the tower remains. No attempts have been made by the Delta National Wildlife Refuge to save the 85-foot tall lighthouse, which is slowly sinking into the mud. Today, less than 50 feet of the lighthouse is above ground. The chance of survival for this historic lighthouse is poor.
Waugoshance Light, Michigan - Located on the Straits of Mackinac, near Mackinaw City, Michigan, the Waugoshance Lighthouse was built in 1851 to replace a lightship that was stationed there. The lighthouse was abandoned in 1912 when the White Shoals Lighthouse replaced it. The Waugoshance Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed to try to save the lighthouse. However, because of its location, restoration will be expensive and dangerous.
Bailey's Harbor Lighthouse, Wisconsin - Located in Bailey's Harbor, it is one of the many lighthouses of Wisconsin's Door County. Built in 1851, the Bailey's Harbor Lighthouse was replaced by the Bailey's Harbor Range Lights in 1869. The lantern room is in extremely poor condition and unless the private owner takes steps to save it, this rare example of a birdcage-style lantern room will soon be lost forever.
Lighthouse Digest Magazine was the first publication to ever publish the Doomsday List of endangered American lighthouses in 1992. Since then, we have slowly started to add to the list other endangered lighthouses from around the world.
A number of lighthouses such as Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; Southeast Light, Rhode Island; Race Point Light, Cape Cod Light, and Nauset Light, Massachusetts have been saved and removed from the list. Other lighthouses, however, such as Mispillion Light, Delaware and Galveston Jetty Light, came off the list because they were destroyed. Of course, some that have been on the Doomsday List of endangered lighthouses for many years are now on their way to being saved.
We believe the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List has helped draw public attention to these and other endangered lighthouses. However, with more and more people visiting popular, tourist-attraction lighthouses that have been well maintained, we thought it was time to feature in photos a number of America's most endangered lighthouses which are now in imminent danger of being lost forever.
There are some lighthouses we have decided not to picture here simply because they are too far-gone and in all probability are lost causes, they are on the way to restoration, or because we simply did not have the space in this issue. Most will be featured in a future issue.
Some lights, not featured in this issue that are close to extinction include Green Island Light, Wisconsin; Green Island Light, Ohio; Long Tail Point Light, Wisconsin; the masonry towers of the original Southwest Pass Light in Louisiana; and Minnesota Point, Minnesota. In fact, it may be better to attempt to save them as historical ruins, but even that may be improbable. We have also not included lighthouses in Puerto Rico or other United States provinces as well as Canada and other countries; we will feature those in upcoming issues. For the sake of this issue, we have only featured lighthouses on mainland United States. One thing does appear obvious: there are a number of endangered lighthouses on wildlife refuges where no action has been taken to save them. Some of the photos clearly show how endangered the lighthouses are. However, do not be deceived by photographs of some of the lighthouses that give an appearance that the structure is in good condition.
To learn more about our Doomsday List of endangered lighthouses you can view the list by clicking the "Doomsday List" link on the left hand side of this page.
You will be directed to stories and historical information on your lighthouse query.
If you know of lighthouses around the world that should be included, please send us the information and photographs if possible. We welcome any and all comments.
This story appeared in the
Aug/Sep 2004 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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