Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2011

Rare Lightship Photos Taken By Light Keeper

By Timothy Harrison


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Photographs of lightships and lightship crew members are among the most difficult images to locate and identify. Many old images are used over and over, and eventually other photos taken of the vessels from different angles or locations become forgotten and are eventually lost forever.

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It is extremely rare to be able to identify the actual photographer of most lightship photographs. It is even rarer when we not only know the name of the photographer, but also know that the photographer was a lighthouse keeper who did not serve on the lightship.

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That’s what makes these photographs of the Buffalo Lightship LV 96 so rare. We know they were taken in 1914-15 by Edward Herman who was an assistant keeper at New York’s Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse and who went on to be become the head keeper at Ohio’s Marblehead Lighthouse. The man on board the vessel wearing the uniform of the U.S. Lighthouse Service is identified as Capt. C. John Navarre, whose last name is also referred to in some records as Navarro. We’d like to learn more about him. The two people posing in front of the lightship are unknown, but the lady may be Margaret, the wife of the lighthouse keeper and photographer Edward Herman.

The LV 96, built in Muskegon, Michigan, saw its first duty in Buffalo, New York where it was sent to replace the previous Buffalo Lightship LV 82, which sank in a storm in November, 1913 with the loss of its six man crew. The LV 96 then went on to become the Poe Reef Lightship in Michigan from 1915-1920, the Lake Huron Lightship from 1921 to 1935, and its final assignment was as the Cross Rip Lightship in Massachusetts from 1937 to 1954. The vessel was decommissioned in 1955 and sold. (Photographs from the Edward Herman collection, courtesy of Rebecca Lawrence-Weden.)

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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