Los Angeles Lighthouses

I recently attended the Council of American Maritime Museums conference hosted by the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. Upon arrival in Los Angeles I went directly from the airport to the Point Fermin Lighthouse, where historic site manager Kristen Heather gave me a delightful tour. The visit was especially meaningful because the first keepers of Point Fermin Light, when it was established in 1874, were sisters Ella and Mary Smith. Although I realize these women had challenges living in such a remote location, I think it would have been a rather plum assignment when compared to many other light stations of that …

Continue Reading

Lighthouses of Northern Florida

Quite a lot has happened in the preservation of lighthouses along the Gulf coast of northern Florida since David Cipra’s Lighthouses, Lightships, and the Gulf of Mexico was published in 1997. (Cipra’s book is a comprehensive history of all the lights on the Gulf coast based on extensive archival research.) According to Cipra’s book, four masonry towers were erected on Cape San Blas between 1848 and 1885 when a skeletal iron tower was completed. The tower was moved several times back from the eroding shoreline before its most recent move to Port St. Joe. See their website for dramatic images of the 2014 move. …

Continue Reading

Celebrating Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month I thought it would be a appropriate to share the list of female lighthouse keepers I assembled for our book Women Who Kept the Lights.  I did a major overhaul of this appendix for the latest edition, making sure that I only included the 142 women who had served as principal keepers for at least a year.  Many women served as temporary keepers for a few months after a spouse’s death while the Lighthouse Service searched for a replacement.  Early on we decided that the many women who served as assistant keepers, paid and …

Continue Reading

Bodie Island Keepers: Oral and Family Histories

Cheryl Shelton-Roberts and Sandra MacLean Clunies have produced a unique book based on the genealogical research they did for the Bodie Island Keeper Descendants Reunion that took place at Bodie Island Light Station last October. Published by the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society, the book features short essays on the keepers with lots of photos of them and their families. The reunion attendees must have been delighted to learn so much about their ancestors. There may still be copies available for purchase through the Society.  Email Diana Chappell –diandmanda at aol.com — for more information. Record Group 26 in the National …

Continue Reading

Celebrating a Book Launch

As a followup to my post “New Book about New Point Comfort Lighthouse,” I wanted to share this photo of the cake served at the book launch. Isn’t a work of art? I hated to cut into it! The cake was based on the cover of the book which you can see in the earlier post.  Mathews County Historical Society hosted a reception to launch the book as well as several book signings at their visitor’s center.  The support from the community was tremendous!  We enjoyed meeting keeper’s descendants, folks involved in preserving the lighthouse, folks who lived near the …

Continue Reading

Happy Holidays

Image

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

Keepers of the Light

Willard Thompson recently sent me his new book Keepers of the Light: The History of Point Conception. Willard does a good job describing the keepers’ experience at Point Conception Light Station, an isolated post on the California coast.  I provided him with a list of keepers which he uses as an appendix. In the case of Point Conception, there was a principle keeper and three assistants so it’s a rather long list. (Coastal lights with fog signals needed a lot of personnel.) When putting together a keeper list in the National Archives, I generally start with the microfilm publication “Registers of …

Continue Reading