Things are fairly quiet as 2019 dawns on the lighthouse world, but there are some things to report.
In November, we reported that the refurbishing of the first-order Fresnel lens from the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in California was about to begin. The lens has been on display for years in a glass enclosure in Cambria, CA, next to the Veterans Memorial Building on Main Street.
Under the supervision of Jim Woodward, one of the most respected lampists (Fresnel lens experts) in the United States, the refurbishing of the lens has been completed. Woodward and his team spent about 220 hours on the project, and Woodward spent an extra 16 hours by himself. According to an article on the project, the lens’s prisms now “sparkle like diamonds.”
The Montauk (New York) Historical Society is preparing for two major projects at the Montauk Lighthouse: the rebuilding of a revetment guarding against erosion, and a renovation of the lighthouse tower. Meanwhile, a renovation of the keeper’s quarters is ongoing. The work began after the lighthouse museum, on the ground floor of the keeper’s quarters, closed for the season in October.
The upstairs apartment hadn’t been renovated since 1962. “We’re going to save everything possible that is historic,” said Joe Gaviola, a Montauk businessman who will be the new resident “keeper” once the work is completed. Margaret Wimski had lived there for 31 years.
Asked whether the building’s fireplaces will be made operational, Mr. Gaviola replied, “George Washington built the lighthouse. Joe Gaviola doesn’t want to be the one that burned it down.”
There’s an opening for caretakers at the beautiful East Brother Light Station in California’s San Francisco Bay, which is operated as a bed and breakfast inn. According to a press release:
“The successful candidates will be a couple, one of whom must possess a Coast Guard commercial boat operator’s license. They will operate the five-room inn, serving both dinner and breakfast, as well as providing ferry service for guests and all other tasks from chef to maid. High quality culinary experience and capability will be a critical qualification. The inn is open four days a week, and the island is also available for day use and special events. The new keepers will start in mid-April 2019, allowing two weeks for training.”
Over the last couple of years, the innkeepers’ income has been about $130,000, split between the couple. You can read more in this article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
One of the most famous of all lighthouse mysteries is the disappearance in 1900 of three keepers at the Flannan Isles light station in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. That tantalizing true life puzzle has been turned into a new movie called The Vanishing, which shifts the story to 1938 and fills in all the blanks with a story of greed turned to violence. The New York Times calls it a middling good-guys-gone-bad thriller, but it’s certainly of interest to lighthouse buffs. The lighthouse used in the movie is the Killantringan Lighthouse in Scotland, by the way. You can read the review here.
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Candace was the US Lighthouse Society historian from 2016 until she passed away in August 2018. For 30 years, her work involved lighthouse history. She worked with the National Park Service and the Council of American Maritime Museums. She was a noted author and was considered the most knowledgable person on lighthouse information at the National Archives. Books by Candace Clifford include: Women who Kept the Lights: a History of Thirty-eight Female Lighthouse Keepers , Mind the Light Katie, and Maine Lighthouses, Documentation of their Past.