In the spring 1999 issue of the Keepers Log, the quarterly publication of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, Wayne Wheeler, the organization's founder and president, in a reply to a letter, wrote, "No other national society provides more funds and assistance for lighthouse restoration than ours. In fact, we really are the only national society." Now, I'll have to agree that the U.S. Lighthouse Society has done a lot of good for lighthouses over the years. Wayne Wheeler has done a lot for lighthouse preservation and he is truly one of the most knowledgeable people alive on lighthouses. But for him to make such a rash statement that his group is the only national society and that his group has done more for lighthouse restoration than any other group is totally absurd.
Lighthouse Digest has done as much, if not more, to bring the plight and story of lighthouses to the general public - more that any other publication. Lighthouse Digest has subscribers in all 50 U.S. states, 28 countries, newsstand sales and a web site that is visited by 320,000 people per month. More lighthouses have been saved directly as well as indirectly, through our stories than any other publication anywhere.
But how about some of the other non-profit groups such as the American Lighthouse Foundation? They are a non-profit national organization with a New England Chapter and a Cape Cod Chapter. The Foundation has leases on four lighthouses. They restored the remote Race Point Light Station on Cape Cod, and are soon to restore Wood End and Long Point Lights also on Cape Cod. They have restored the gravesites of Abbie Burgess and the Grant family. They are working to raise $250,000 (of which over $25,000 has already been raised) to restore Maine's Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. They are working to raise funds for the restoration of Avery Point Light in Connecticut, and raising money to restore the most endangered lighthouse in North America in Grand Manan Island in Canada. They have donated money to numerous other regional lighthouse projects and museums. I could go on and on.
What about the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association? Although their name indicates they are regional, they are very much indeed a national organization and have done more than most people realize to save lighthouses, their history and heritage. They have school programs, a great newsletter, lighthouses they are restoring, cruises, special events, a speakers' bureau, and soon, a lighthouse museum that will rival any museum anywhere.
And let's not forget groups like the New Jersey Lighthouse Society, the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society and the many other small groups around the globe that are diligently working to save their local lighthouses. All of these groups have members scattered all over the United States and other countries.
In conclusion, I would say to Wayne Wheeler, "Yes, your organization has done a lot for lighthouses, but so have a lot of other groups, all just as dedicated as you. You are not a czar, you are a leader. Try being a better leader, and give some credit to the rest of us.
This story appeared in the
August 1999 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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