Digest>Archives> October 2002

Keeper’s Korner

Tid-bits from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Ralston speaks

Peter Ralston, creator of the Maine Lights Program, recently spoke at the annual meeting of the Friends of Nash Island Lighthouse. The Friends group acquired the lighthouse under the Maine Lights Program and has since produced a video about life on the island called Jenny’s Island Life: The Story of Jenny Cirone and Nash Island Lighthouse. Ralston is also noted for his award winning photography which has been published in numerous books and been displayed in galleries around the world. His second book of photographs of the Maine coast Sightings was published in 1997.

Lighthouse Float

The Girl Scout Council of Kenosha County received a first place scout award at the Kenosha (WI) Civic Veterans Parade for their lighthouse float, which was designed and sponsored by Girl Scout Troop 278.

Lighthouses go better with Coke

Eight ounce glass bottle of Coca-Cola in New Jersey will feature that state’s Barnegat Lighthouse on them as part of a promotion to raise money for the Shore Partnership, a group that lobbies state and national politicians on beach protection.

Security cuts hours at lighthouse

National security concerns cut the hours of operation again at the Michigan’s historic Ft. Gratiot Lighthouse. Tours, which are by appointment only, will be from 1 PM to 3 PM daily. Previously tours had been allowed in the morning and as late as 4 PM. This is a big disappointment to out of town visitors passing through. What’s wrong with this picture?

Lighthouse to be built?

The city of Ogdensburg, NY would like to have a lighthouse as part of its proposed new community and tourism building. The plans are “awesome,” said Mayor William Nelson when reviewing the architectural drawings. However, the plan may only be a dream if the necessary funds can’t be raised to build it.

New Presque Isle Dedicated

Volunteers celebrated the restoration of Michigan’s New Presque Island Lighthouse with a dedication ceremony at the lighthouse. The restoration project included the tower and the exterior and interior of the light station. Located near Alpena, Michigan, it is the tallest lighthouse in Michigan and is visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Kids learn lighthouses

Fourth graders at the Highmeadow Common School in Farmington, Michigan are now a little more knowledgeable after learning about their state’s lighthouse history. As part of a special lighthouse project students were required to research Michigan lighthouses, write a paper on them and build a model.

Lighthouses are going up everywhere

As the popularity of lighthouses continues to grow we see replicas of them being used just about everywhere. Replicas are built at churches, business firms, and communities, and there is always a different reason. Recently the Sherburne-Earlville Elementary School in Norwich, NY added a 8-foot replica that resembles Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to the school’s lobby. The lighthouse was put there as a symbol to represent the integrated ideals of respect, responsibility and cooperation in the students’ educational curriculum. School officials decided on the lighthouse since it would be a physical symbol since it would be an everyday reminder character commitment that every student makes when they walk through the doors of the school.

Foghorn Turned Up

The foghorn at New York’s Montauk Point Lighthouse will now be louder, thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard. About a year ago the Coast Guard turned down both the light and the foghorn at the lighthouse. However, local residents and fisherman complained, so the Coast Guard increased the power of the light this past winter. Now, with the addition to the much larger sound system, the foghorn can be heard two miles off the coast.

Nantucket ready for festival

The Lightship Nantucket CLV-112 will be at the Greenport Maritime Festival in New York this Sept 21-22. The lightship, one of only a few remaining in existence is now owned by the National Lighthouse Museum in New York was the largest lightship built in the United States.

Volunteers pitch in

More than 40 volunteers spent the day working at Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in California to do some much-needed work. The volunteers came from the Duke Energy Morro Bay Power Plant who have adopted the lighthouse as a community restoration project. Wow, if more companies around the nation would work on these type of employee programs, more lighthouses could be restored on a timely basis.

Big Sable to Little Sable

Next year Michigan’s Little Sable Lighthouse may be open to the public for the first time in history thanks to the efforts of volunteers from Big Sable Lighthouse. Little Sable Light, now owned by the federal government will soon have its ownership transferred to the State of Michigan. However, the state does not have the necessary funds to restore, maintain and open the lighthouse, something that is much more suitable to a nonprofit group of dedicated volunteers. Interestingly, Little Sable Light still has its Fresnel lens in the tower.


The Lighthouse Depot Explorer Database on our website has grown to over 2600 lighthouses worldwide, but we are having trouble finding information and photographs of lighthouses in some countries such as Italy, Spain and others. If you would like to help us out by contributing data of photos on lighthouses not in our data base, please e-mail keeper@lighthouse.cc. You can access the database at


Photo wanted

We are looking for a photograph of Rear-Admiral David B. Harmony of the U.S. Navy. He was born in 1832 and died in 1917. If anyone can help us, please contact our editor Tim Harrison at Timh@lhdigest.com

Free Lighthouse Magnet

This past Labor Day, the Maine Turnpike Authority gave away 20,000 free lighthouse magnets to tourists departing the state of Maine. The magnets, given away at the York toll exit, which is the last toll booth when leaving the state, was to thank people for visiting and reminding them to come back.

Sea-Lites Donates

Edward J. Chiasson, owner of Sea-Lites Custom Crafted Lighthouses, recently donated a large Cape Hatteras style Beacon of Freedom Lighthouse to the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center to be auctioned off as a fund raiser for the center. This was his way of saying thanks for the treatment he received there. A gigantic replica of West Quoddy Head Light made by Ed and his Sea-Lites Company stands in front of Lighthouse Depot in Wells, Maine.

Will the lens stay?

The U. S. Coast Guard would like to remove the historic Fresnel lens from Michigan’s tallest lighthouse and replace it with a modern optic. However, local officials who own the lighthouse want the Fresnel lens to stay. The problem comes from the fact that the Coast Guard does not have the money to restore the lens. So, while the debate continues, the county is attempting to secure grant money for the lens restoration to keep it in the tower.

Needlepoint Lighthouse Ornaments Wanted

We are still in need of additional needlepoint lighthouse ornaments to be pictured in the November issue of Lighthouse Digest. All needlepoint lighthouse ornaments will be donated to the American Lighthouse Foundation as a fund raiser for them. Send your needlepoint lighthouse ornaments to Editor, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 1690, Wells, ME 04090.

Lighthouse to come down

The Beirut Lighthouse in Lebanon is being torn down ending one family’s light keeping duty that goes back to 1850. The old lighthouse is being torn down to make room for Beirut’s reconstruction program. Apparently they don’t understand historic preservation in Beirut. A new modern style automated lighthouse is being built away from the reconstruction area. Victor Chebli who was born and raised at the lighthouse said the lighthouse is like a vein circulating in his blood. Light-keeping in his family dates back to his grandfather who was appointed keeper of the light by Lebanon’s Ottoman rulers in 1850. That tradition continued during French rule until modern times. However during the civil war, which lasted form 1977 to 1994, the light was turned off. Since being turned back on in 1994 the signal has beamed every eight seconds. After surviving all the turmoil that the world could muster, it is reconstruction and the rebuilding of a city that will cause the light to be no more.

Wreck mystery solved

The finding of the wreck of the SS Portland ends one of New England’s largest maritime mysteries. One of the last of the luxury coastal steamers, the Portland sank in a blizzard on November 26, 1898 killing 192 people. The ship was on its way from Boston, Massachusetts to Portland, Maine when it disappeared. The precise location has not been disclosed to prevent plundering of the wreckage.

Plates bring money for lighthouses

In the last 12 months the Michigan has sold 8,135 specialty lighthouse license plates, which has raised $203,000 for lighthouse preservation. The state donates $25.00 from the sale of each plate to the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program, which was established in 1989 by the Michigan legislature to help local groups in preserving and protecting the states lighthouses.

Monster Update

Last month we ran a story about the movie The Monster of Piedras Blancas, which was filmed in 1958 at the Point Conception Lighthouse and the town of Cayucos, California. The Friends of the Cayucos Library are planning a free event called “Hollywood Comes to Cayucos, 1958,” to be held on Sunday, October 27, 2002 in the Cayucos Veterans Hall. They’ll be screening The Monster of Piedras Blancas, and they¹re hoping for an appearance by star Jeanne Carmen. You can email April Weeks at ryk123@bigplanet.com if you¹d like more information.

Whitefish Point gets attention

When visiting Michigan, especially if you go to the Upper Peninsula, the visit would not be complete without a tour of the Whitefish Point Lighthouse and the great museum located on the site. The lighthouse gets its share of media attention and recently the Green Bay Press-Gazette gave it lots of exposure in a large color article in its June 30th edition.


Russell W. Reilly, 72, passed away recently in Bangor, Maine. Joining the U.S. Navy in 1948 he eventually joined the Coast Guard in 1955 and was officer in charge at several Maine lighthouses off the Maine coast including Little River Lighthouse from 1971-1973. He also served on the Pollock Rip Lightship and was an investigator with the United States Coast Guard Intelligence and Law Enforcement in the 5th district. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1971.

Cable Removed

The United State Coast Guard has removed the 30,000 feet of underwater cable that used to supply electric power to Petit Manan Lighthouse off the coast of Downeast Maine. Last year the Coast Guard solarized the lighthouse, thus making the cable obsolete.

This story appeared in the October 2002 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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