Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2011

Keeper's Korner

By Timothy Harrison


Scout Honored for Round Island

Eighteen-year-old Andrew J. Robishaw was recently presented with his Eagle Scout designation for his project in creating a web site for Michigan’s Round Island Lighthouse. Congratulations to him. To view the web site, go to www.RoundIslandLightMichigan.com.

Lighthouse Construction Called For

Government officials in India have called for new lighthouses to be built at intervals every 30 miles along its coastline and islands. As well as being aids to navigation, the lighthouses would serve as security posts to watch for possible terrorist threats. Each lighthouse would also be eqsuipped with special communications equipment to broadcast weather reports and safety related information during national or local emergencies. The government would like the plan to be fully implemented by 2017.

Canadian Beacon Destroyed

It appears that one hand does not know what the other is doing in Canada. In spite of the fact that the government says it wants to turn over lighthouses to communities and non-profits the destruction of lighthouses continues. Recently the South Head Lighthouse near Lark Harbour at the entrance to the Bay of Islands on the west coast of Newfoundland was demolished by the Canadian government and replaced by a modern smoke-stack style aid-to-navigation. The Canadian government had previously, in 1989, intentionally burned the keeper’s house to the ground. Sadly, another slice of lighthouse history is now gone forever. We would like to have photographs of what family life had been like at this station. If any of our readers can help, we’d appreciate hearing from you.

Mobile Bay Restoration

The $230,000 restoration project started at Mobile Bay Lighthouse in Alabama will most likely be completed by the time this edition of Lighthouse Digest is in the mail. The lighthouse is also known as Middle Bay Lighthouse. Hopefully the State of Alabama will now place its sights on the endangered Mobile Point Range Rear Lighthouse.

Bell Rock Celebration

Celebrations are well underway to honor the 200th Anniversary of the completion of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, which is located off the coast of Scotland. To learn more, you can visit www.angusahead.com/bellrocklighthouse.

Split Rock Adds Land

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, home of Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota, has grown by 19 acres thanks to a recent acquisition. The park is now 2,089 acres.

Wisconsin Beacon Sold

Wisconsin’s Manitowoc Breakwater Lighthouse, which was featured in the January 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest magazine, has been sold at auction for a paltry $30,000. The new owner of the lighthouse is Philip Carlucci of New York. Since no qualified non-profit entity wanted the lighthouse for free, the government was forced to put the lighthouse, which had been declared excess property by the Coast Guard, up for auction to the general public.

Choptank Rebuilding in the Works Again

The rebuilding of a replica of Maryland’s Choptank Lighthouse was first reported on in the June 2004 issue of Lighthouse Digest. Now, more than six years later, the plan to build a full-size replica of the lighthouse on the waterfront in Cambridge, Maryland has been revived, although in essence it was never really dead, but suffering from a lack of funds. If the Maryland State legislature approves their share of the funding, the rest will be raised locally by the Choptank River Lighthouse Society. The original Choptank River Lighthouse was built in 1871 and demolished in 1921. Shortly thereafter, the government moved the former Cherrystone Bar Lighthouse in Virginia to the Choptank site; however it was deactivated in 1964 and later demolished.

Ireland’s Fog Signals Turned Off

For the past 20 years, the Commissioner of Irish Lights has been discontinuing foghorns at the lighthouses along its 4,800 miles of coastline. Now the remaining nine foghorns have been turned off, leaving the Irish coast in silence. Government officials have stated that modern navigation equipment has made the fog signals outdated. However, many small boaters and pleasure craft owners whose vessels are not equipped with electronic aids feel the government has put their lives at risk.

The Lights of Saugerties

A street exhibit called "Shine on Saugerties" will feature handmade wooden lighthouse replicas of New York’s Saugerties Lighthouse and will adorn the streets this July in Saugerties, New York. The lighthouses, to honor the town’s bicentennial, will be painted by different artists. If you live in Saugerties or plan on visiting this summer, please snap some photos and send them to us.

Orford Ness Shut Down

Trinity House, the organization that manages lighthouses in the United Kingdom, is turning off the light for good at the famous Orford Ness Lighthouse that has been in continuous operation since 1792. In the July 2009 issue of Lighthouse Digest we reported that the lighthouse, now located in a nature preserve, was in danger of collapse from erosion. Since no plans are being made to save the famous lighthouse, the British must have decided it was time to turn off the light. Trinity House said modern aids to navigation have made the usefulness of the lighthouse insignificant. However, Trinity House officials stated that they intend to strengthen the beam from the nearby Southwold Lighthouse to help make up the difference.

Potential Partnership at White River

A partnership between the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association, the Friends of White River and the Fruitland Township may be the perfect combination to run Michigan’s White River Lighthouse, which we wrote about in our Wickie’s Wisdom column in the May 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest. The township threatened the eviction of the caretaker-curator at the lighthouse and only having the lighthouse open for limited hours. Naturally, the issue was money.

Keeper’s Son Dies

Kenneth Francis Franke, 74, who spent the first 18 years of his life at Ballast Point Lighthouse in California where his father, Radford Franke, was the lighthouse keeper, has passed away. Franke went on to follow in his fathers footsteps and joined the United States Coast Guard. For a while in the 1980s he served as the director of the San Diego Maritime Museum. In the 1960s the beautiful Ballast Point Lighthouse was demolished by the Coast Guard. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Staffed Canadian Lighthouses

A Canadian Senate committee after touring lighthouses and meeting with community members around the nation has issued a recommendation that Canada’s remaining lighthouse keeper’s be kept in place and that the lighthouses should not be de-staffed. This is good news for the lighthouse keepers, the areas that they serve, and for preservationists. But, elected Canadian leaders will make the ultimate decision.

Michigan Keeper Dies

Frances Johnson Marshall of Whitehall, Michigan has passed away at age 86. Frances arrived at the White River Lighthouse in Whitehall in 1943 as the wife of lighthouse keeper Leo Wuori. When Leo died in 1948 she was appointed the keeper and served in that position until 1954. In 2007 she gave a talk to the Friends of the White River Lighthouse and recalled her memories of life at the lighthouse, saying she would love to have moved back to the light. Our condolences go out to her family and friends.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2011 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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