Lighthouse News of the Week – November 6, 2020

Piedras Blancas Lighthouse (CA) is getting a new caretaker

The Piedras Blancas lens in Cambria, CA. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

Responsibility for the circa-1875 first-order Fresnel lens from the Piedras Blancas Light Station will shift in March 2021 from the Cambria Lions Club back to the U.S. Coast Guard. But it’s unclear what that will mean for the future display of the lens and whether it will remain in Cambria or be moved somewhere else.

The lens has been in Cambria for about 70 years. For nearly 25 years, it’s been housed in a custom-built, glass display structure on Main Street.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) controls the Piedras Blancas Light Station and has agreed to take responsibility for the lens. They are in negotiations with the Coast Guard to take over the loan agreement.

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Will Chicago Harbor Lighthouse (IL) revert to the federal government?

The City of Chicago has owned Chicago Harbor Lighthouse since 2009 through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. In the transfer agreement, it was agreed that the city would figure out a way to restore the deteriorating building for public use and education. But since taking ownership, the City has made no progress with the restoration or use of the lighthouse. In explaining the city’s lack of progress, city spokesman Peter Strazzabosco cited “challenges involving the site’s location, seasonal usage limitations, lack of docking facilities, unknown market demand and other issues.”

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

The federal government is considering taking possession of the lighthouse again. If the federal government retakes possession, it could be offered for free to non-profit organizations. If no one bites, then it could be auctioned with preservation requirements outlined in the deed.

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Lead contamination keeps East Chop Lighthouse (MA) closed

The U.S. Coast Guard is reportedly poised for an environmental cleanup of lead in the soil at East Chop Lighthouse. The Coast Guard also reportedly intends to transfer the property to the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The Coast Guard either has issued or will issue a request for proposals for the lead cleanup work, according to Katy Fuller, Martha’s Vineyard Museum director of operations and business development. Fuller oversees several Vineyard lighthouses leased to the museum, including East Chop.

East Chop Lighthouse, photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

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Power surge outage leads to upgrades at Oak Island Lighthouse (NC)

Oak Island Lighthouse, USLHS photo

The U.S. Coast Guard is using the recent power surge that darkened Oak Island Lighthouse to spur already planned upgrades to the beacon at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. Electric power surges about three weeks ago burned out the motor that rotated the four lamps responsible for providing the light’s characteristic with four flashes across ten seconds, then a six-second delay.

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Park service tests dry ice blasting for Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (NC) restoration

North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will undergo a complete makeover next year, and the National Park Service this week tested a unique way to remove its many coats of red, white, and black paint. The NPS contracted with HydroPrep to test dry ice blasting on a few feet of the tower on Thursday. The method uses dry ice pellets that turn to carbon dioxide gas, leaving behind nothing but original surface.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, NC. USLHS photo.

“There were concerns that using sand blasting or a chemical paint peel or even scraping it would damage the brick work behind the paint,” said Dave Hallac, superintendent of the National Parks of Eastern North Carolina. “Dry-ice blasting is known to be effective in removing the paint but not the brick work.”

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Leaning lighthouse in Christchurch, New Zealand, is returned home

A September 2010 earthquake left the Lyttelton Lighthouse in Christchurch, NZ, leaning precariously. It rested that way for eight months, tilting at an angle of 15 degrees, until it was rescued in May 2011 and was put in storage. The breakwater on which it stood has been repaired, and the lighthouse has been put back in its original location.

Lyttelton Lighthouse (Lyttelton Port Company)

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy D’Entremont at

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