Light Hearted

Light Hearted ep 43 – Frederick Mikkelsen, former keeper of Conimicut Lighthouse, RI

Fred Mikkelsen speaking at a symposium in Kittery, Maine, in 2016..

Frederick Mikkelsen was a Coast Guard light keeper at Conimicut Lighthouse in Rhode Island circa 1958 to 1961. The cast-iron “sparkplug” style lighthouse was built at the mouth of the Providence River in 1883. Conimicut was the one of the last lighthouses in the nation to be converted to electricity. The light was automated and the resident keepers were reassigned in 1963. On September 29, 2004, a ceremony was held to announce the transfer of the lighthouse to the City of Warwick under the guidelines of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.

Conimicut Lighthouse in 2018. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

One of Fred Mikkelsen’s most memorable experiences in his three years at the lighthouse was a 1960 hurricane. Fred still lives in Rhode Island, and he sometimes gives presentations on his lighthouse keeping days entitled “Checked Main Light – Lighthouse Life in the 1950s.” His family calls Conimicut Light Station “Grandpa’s Lighthouse.”

Fred Mikkelsen painted this seascape when he was a Coast Guard keeper at Conimicut Lighthouse in 1958.
Living quarters inside Conimicut Lighthouse, circa late 1950s. Courtesy of Fred Mikkelsen.
The galley inside Conimicut Lighthouse, circa late 1950s. Courtesy of Fred Mikkelsen.

2 thoughts on “Light Hearted ep 43 – Frederick Mikkelsen, former keeper of Conimicut Lighthouse, RI

  1. Was just wondering……If the lighthouse ever was equipped with the Fresnel lens, commonly used in the old lighthouses we had? Fred may know. (I had the responsibility of two of the oldest, tallest, lighthouses on the west coast, my last 3 years in the CG at Cape D, SW WA on the Columbia River. One had the old lens in the late 70’s, early 80’s, while I was there. The other, had the newer rotating, double ended, metal, painted grey, spot (North Head).

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