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Life-Saving Service Gold Medal Celebration at Cape Lookout

On February 11, 2017, the Core Sound Waterfront Museum & Heritage Center, Harkers Island, N.C., will be hosting a special event honoring the 1905 Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station Gold Medal recipients for their rescue of the crew of Rawson. The families of Surfmen William H. Gaskill, James W. Fulcher, Kilby Guthrie, John A. Guthrie, Calupt T. Jarvis, John E. Kirkman, Joseph L. Lewis, Tyre Moore and Walter M. Yeomans will be participating.

Cape Lookout Lifesaving Station, North Carolina, March 1959. When the Chatham-style station was built in 1917, the earlier 1887 station was moved and later sold. Now both are part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore but not open to the public. Note Cape Lookout Lighthouse in the far distance in the background on left. National Archives photo courtesy of the U.S. Lifesaving Service Heritage Association

According to the 1905 Annual Report of the Life-Saving Service, the three-masted schooner Sarah D.J. Rawson was carrying a full load of lumber from Georgetown, S.C., bound for New York in rough seas, when the vessel stranded on the south side of Lookout Shoals on February 9, 1905. The nearby lifesaving crew set out, but could not approach the vessel without being beaten back by the breakers. The next morning, they were able to approach more closely and used a line to rescue the remaining crew (one crew member, Jacob Hansen, had been swept off the decks by heavy seas when the schooner struck the shoal). A few hours later, the vessel broke up and disappeared. Each member of the lifesaving crew was awarded the gold medal of honor on April 12, 1905, for “extreme and heroic daring in saving life from the perils of the sea.”

Mike Carlson, Secretary, U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association (USLSSHA), alerted us to this event. An affiliate of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, the USLSSHA encourages an appreciation of Life-Saving Service history and supports the preservation of lifesaving stations all over the United States. Their website at has a wealth of information about the Service and the lifesaving stations which once lined our coasts.

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