In 1864 the Elbow Reef Light Station went into service at Hope Town, a small settlement on Elbow Cay, one of the barrier islands off Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. The lens and rotation equipment, made in the early 1900s by Chance Brothers of Birmingham, England, is still in place today. The fuel is kerosene and the lens rotates on a mercury float. The keeper on duty has to wind up the weights that rotate the lens every two hours.
Bahamian Lighthouses have been operated by the Port Department of The Bahamas since independence from Great Britain in 1973. The traditional hand-powered technology in the Elbow Reef Lighthouse is maintained by the Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society. The buildings at the Elbow Reef Light Station, as well as the surrounding Hope Town community, were devastated by Hurricane Dorian at the beginning of September.
Annie Potts is the U.S.-based member of the Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society team. She is also the author of the book Last Lights: The Hand-Wound Lighthouses of The Bahama Islands. As the U.S. liaison for the society, Annie helps with the historical and structural restoration aspects of the Elbow Reef Light Station.
To donate to the Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society and to help with their recovery from Hurricane Dorian, you can send a donation to:
Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society
c/o Annie Potts
700 SW 31st Street
Palm City, FL 34990
Or you can donate $250 or more to PERC — let them you know you want the donation to go to the Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.”