Episode 41 – St. Marks is a small city on Florida’s gulf coast. A light station at St, Marks, Florida’s second, began service in 1831. Today, St. Marks Light Station is located within the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge is a non-profit volunteer organization that supports the conservation, education, and preservation work of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Tom Baird, interviewed in this episode, is the chairman of the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge Lighthouse Committee and fundraising committee chair.
Special Edition – Former Maine lighthouse keeper Ernie DeRaps – An extended interview with a former lighthouse keeper. Ernie DeRaps, a native Mainer, spent several years in the 1950s and ‘60s as a Coast Guard lighthouse keeper at four Maine lighthouses – Monhegan, Fort Point, Heron Neck, and Browns Head. After retirement he took up painting at the age of 80. Ernie is now in his early 90s, and he has completed portraits of all 65 lighthouses on the Maine coast.
Episode 42 – New Jersey’s East Point Lighthouse began service in September 1849. The light was darkened due to World War II, and it was subsequently discontinued. In the 1950s, the property was transferred to the State of New Jersey. The Maurice River Historical Society was working to save the lighthouse when a fire started by trespassers nearly destroyed the building in 1971. The Coast Guard relighted the lighthouse as a navigational aid in 1980. Five rooms in the restored lighthouse are now furnished with period antiques. Nancy Patterson, guest on this episode, is president of the Maurice River Historical Society, and she manages the lighthouse.
Episode 43 – Frederick Mikkelsen, interviewed in this episode, 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. One of Fred Mikkelsen’s most memorable experiences in his three years at the lighthouse was a 1960 hurricane.
Episode 44 – Joseph Smith, interviewed in this episode, has been a theatrical performer based in New York City since 1995. He decided to take his love of acting and his love of history and to bring them together as a performing artist of living history. In recent years he has written and performed a portrayal of Augustin Fresnel, the inventor of the Fresnel lens that revolutionized lighthouse lighting. He has performed the program, entitled Augustin Fresnel: Through a New Lens in a number of venues.
Episode 45 –Lake Champlain, bordering New York, Vermont and Quebec, was once a bustling waterway. More than ten lighthouses were built on the lake in the nineteenth century, on the New York and Vermont sides. Light stations were established in Vermont in the 1800s at Isle la Motte and Windmill Point. Both properties were bought by the Clark family. In 2001 the Coast Guard began looking at the possibility of reactivating some of Lake Champlain’s lighthouses. After many years in darkness, both of the Clarks’ lighthouses were returned to service in 2002. Rob Clark, longtime owner of these two lighthouses, is the interview subject in this episode.
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