Happy Holidays

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Here is keeper Fannie Salter with her son feeding the turkeys at Turkey Point Lighthouse. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office.)

For those starting their holiday shopping, we are now offering the hardcover version of the second edition of Women Who Kept the Lights for $15.95. That’s over 50% off it’s original price of $32.95! You can order using a check with our order form or try out our new shopping cart for credit card orders.  Email me at candace@lighthousehistory.info if you encounter any problems.

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Fire Island Lighthouse Lens

In 2000 I had the pleasure of documenting the disassembly of a first-order Fresnel lens at the Franklin Institute, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of an exhibition gallery renovation conducted by C. Erickson and Sons, Inc. The lens had been on display since 1933 when it was lent to the Institute by the Department of Commerce whose Bureau of Lighthouses oversaw lighthouses at that time.  The lens had once served Fire Island Lighthouse on Long Island. Fire Island Light Station was established in 1826-27; a second tower was built in 1858 and a first-order Fresnel lens installed. First-order lenses are the largest …

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Lighthouse District Staff Under the USLHB

When the U.S. Light-House Board (USLHB) took over the administration of lighthouses in 1852, they divided the country into districts and assigned an army officer to act as district engineer and a naval officer to act as district inspector. These officers oversaw the lighthouses in their districts and communicated directly with the corresponding USLHB secretary in Washington.  Letters to the USLHB from the district engineers and inspectors can be found in National Archives Record Group 26 Entry 24 (NC-31) and copies of letters from the USLHB to the district engineers and inspectors can be found in Entry 23 (NC-31). The …

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Coast Guard Heroes: Margaret Norvell

Here is a posting on the new U.S. Coast Guard Cutter named for Margaret Norvell, who kept Louisiana lighthouses for 41 years — Coast Guard Heroes: Margaret Norvell. Note that we have expanded the chapter on Margaret Norvell in our new edition of Women Who Kept the Lights and it will be reprinted in a forthcoming edition of the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s The Keepers Log.

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Kate Walker Story to be told at Robbins Reef

The Noble Maritime Collection recently became the new steward of Robbins Reef Lighthouse, a caisson tower off Staten Island in New York Harbor. They plan to restore and interpret the station to how it looked in the early 1900s when Kate Walker was the keeper. We are excited by this development in that we devoted a chapter to Kate in our book Women Who Kept the Lights: An Illustrated History of Female Lighthouse Keepers and later made her part of the cover image of the kid’s version, Mind the Light Kate: The History of Thirty-Three Lighthouse Keepers.   When Kate’s husband John Walker …

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NOAA’s Historical Map & Chart Collection

Some of you may have seen the recent release by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that they would no longer be printing traditional nautical charts.  Most navigators are now using electronic versions that can be downloaded from their website. But what you may not know is that you can also download their historic charts.  They have an amazing collection which I have often accessed to illustrate our books. Here is an 1840 map of the Chesapeake Bay.  Note the red dots indicating lighthouses.

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New Book About New Point Comfort Lighthouse

The Mathews County Historical Society announces the publication of their newest book The New Point Comfort Lighthouse Its History and Preservation by Mary Louise Clifford. This book is a tribute to the lighthouse keepers who manned this lighthouse, their families, the County of Mathews  and its residents and their part in the maritime history on the Chesapeake Bay. Starting with a March 3, 1801, Act of Congress to build a light house between Old Point Comfort and Smith’s Point, New Point Comfort Lighthouse evolved. It was first lit in 1806 and manned by lighthouse keeper Elzy Burroughs, its builder. The book traces the lighthouse’s history from construction to …

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Lighthouse Service in World War I

As seen from this presidential proclamation, the Lighthouse Service played a role in the First World War.  Most of the lighthouse tenders and a few lighthouse stations, all on the east coast, were placed under the jurisdiction of the War and Navy Departments.  This particular document came from National Archives Record Group 45 – Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library [ONRL], Entry 464b.

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Modern Day Lighthouse Keeper – Bob Trapani

On my recent trip to Maine, I had the pleasure of stopping by Owls Head Lighthouse and catching up with Bob Trapani, president of the American Lighthouse Foundation.  The lighthouse, as you can see from these photos, looks fantastic.  Bob’s hard work has paid off.  Folks can now enter the tower and climb a few steps to enjoy the view and see the beautiful fourth-order Fresnel lens.  The keeper’s dwelling now houses the offices of the American Lighthouse Foundation on the second floor with the first floor devoted to a gift shop and some interpretation.  (And yes I did drop …

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Keeper Job Descriptions

Around 1928 lighthouse keeper salaries were reclassified.  As part of this process, keepers filled out a form that included their job description and the number of years they had served at that station.  These forms are part of National Archives Record Group 26, Entry 111 (NC-31) and are organized by district.  They include other personnel such as those working at lighthouse depots or for the US Airways Division.  Some stations are missing including those in what was then the second district.  The form for Curtis Island Lighthouse Station, Maine, is seen below.  Note that the station was originally called “Negro …

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