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.
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.”
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.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org