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Lighthouse News of the Week – November 20, 2020

Virtual Celebration Planned for Cape Hatteras Lighthouse’s 150th Anniversary (NC)

On December 16, 2020, Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina, in partnership with the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society and Outer Banks Forever, will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse’s first lighting.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse during its 1999 move (U.S. Lighthouse Society photo)

The special event will begin around 4:50 p.m. with a livestream view of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, followed by a 20-30 minute video broadcast of speeches. The video will feature Superintendent David Hallac, local elected officials, historians, and more.

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Efforts to save Tchefuncte River Lighthouse (LA) get a big push

The Gulf of Mexico Security Act is sending $1.6 million to shore up the Tchefuncte River Lighthouse and the eroded land around it. “It is the last active lighthouse on the lake built before the Civil War, so it’s a piece of history,” said Jim MacPherson of the Lake Pontchartrain Maritime Museum. The new project calls for rebuilding land around the lighthouse and protecting it.

Tchefuncte River Lighthouse, Louisiana. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Sharon Mills

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Mission Point Lighthouse (M) to get new shutters

Earlier this week, Peninsula Township received a check from the Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society for the purchase and installation of historically accurate shutters (an upside-down cross design) for Mission Point Lighthouse.

Mission Point Lighthouse, Michigan. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Chad Kaiser.

The funds totaling $10,898.96, which covered part of the cost of the shutters, were transfered to the Historical Society from the now-dissolved Friends of Mission Point Lighthouse, and were earmarked specifically for the shutters.

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Restoration at North Head Lighthouse (WA)

The North Head Lighthouse complex at Cape Disappointment State Park is set for even more work this year as a top-to-bottom restoration continues at one of the state’s most-popular tourist attractions. Washington State Parks is installing new interpretive plaques, and working on the grounds of the North Head Lighthouse Keeper’s House and Assistant Keeper’s House. Digging at the keepers’ houses has already started. This latest phase of restoration and interpretation began Oct. 26 and will cost $140,425. State Parks estimates it will be substantially complete by Jan. 28, 2021.

North Head Lighthouse, Washington, before restoration in 2015. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

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Restoring Presque Isle’s lighthouses (MI)

The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, built in 1840, served as a harbor light for 30 years before it was decommissioned when the New Lighthouse and Range Lights were lit in 1870. Both the New Lighthouse and Range Light continue to serve mariners as navigational aids. The New and Old Lighthouses are owned and operated by Presque Isle Township and, as anyone who lives in this northern climate can imagine, they require significant resources to keep them standing proud.

The cupola of the New Presque Isle Lighthouse is seen post-restoration. (Courtesy photo)

In 2018, Presque Isle Township and the Presque Isle Township Museum Society (PITMS) partnered to form the Presque Isle Township Lighthouses Restoration Fund. Restoration work on the Old Lighthouse began in 2019. In 2020, workers moved to the inside of the lighthouse to continue restoration work. Meanwhile, work on other historic structures in the Lighthouse Parks has been undertaken by the township, including repairing the rotting rear entryway of the 1905 Keeper’s House, replacing cedar shake shingles on the roof of the 1870 Keeper’s house and breezeway, and painting the New Lighthouse cupola and tower.

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Fisgard Lighthouse (BC) celebrates 160th birthday

Fisgard Lighthouse, one of the centerpieces at Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites in Colwood, British Columbia, celebrated its 160th birthday on November 16. Although an in-person birthday celebration was not possible due to COVID-19, the site is holding an online celebration in the form of a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter at #Fisgard160 with fun facts and photos. People are encouraged to contribute by sharing their own photos and memories as well.


Fisgard Lighthouse, photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

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The battle for Lake Michigan, as beaches erode

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is spending $130,000 to recap the seawall and place new stone barriers at the base of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The hope is that the reinforcements will slow erosion, save the beach, protect the base of the lighthouse and preserve the low-lying dunes.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Michigan. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

Surging water levels on Lake Michigan have collapsed bluffs, swamped coastal dune lands, erased beaches and damaged homes, businesses, docks, trails, campgrounds and sewer systems. Residents and officials are scrambling to find new solutions as stone barriers and beach replenishment are often too costly and ineffective over the long-term.

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Property tax battle looms over Graves Light in Boston Harbor (MA)

Graves Light sits on a rocky ledge in the middle of Boston Harbor, surrounded by water. Since purchasing the lighthouse at a government auction seven years ago, Dave Waller has poured time and money into restoring it. The only way to get out there is by boat; the nearest shoreline is miles away, and when he bought it, the Coast Guard said the lighthouse did not belong to any city or town.

Graves Lighthouse, photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

That’s why Waller was shocked when, out of the blue, he received a property tax bill from the town of Hull last year.“I called the assessor’s office,” Waller said. “They just annexed us.”

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Restoration project underway at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (NC)

The National Park Service is undertaking restoration of the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Research about how to remove red, white, and black paint from the 150-year old structure is underway with a demonstration of dry-ice removal.

Early 1900s postcard of Cape Hatteras Light Station, U.S. Lighthouse Society Archives

The new method would replace chemical peeling or sand blasting, both of which leave residue or damage masonry. The dry-ice demonstration using a nozzle only produced large chips of white paint in what appeared to be two paint layers which were easily picked up. On the outside of the lighthouse, 11,800 square feet of paint must be removed. On the inside, 5,700 square feet will be returned to the original surface.

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Mid-Atlantic lighthouse stamps to be issued in 2021

The long-running series celebrating American lighthouses continues with five new stamps. The mid-Atlantic lighthouses featured in this issuance are: Thomas Point Shoal, MD; Montauk Point, NY; Harbor of Refuge, DE; Navesink, NJ; and Erie Harbor Pierhead, PA. The late Howard Koslow was the artist for these stamps as well as previous issuances in the Lighthouse series. Mid-Atlantic Lighthouses were the last stamps he illustrated for the Postal Service. The art director was Greg Breeding.

Click here to read about more 2021 stamps

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Sam Smith releases new song: “Lighthouse Keeper”

The English singer/songwriter Sam Smith has won four Grammy Awards, three Billboard Music Awards, an Oscar, and a Golden Globe, among other things. Sam’s new song, “Lighthouse Keeper,” is a Christmas song of sorts. Here are the lyrics, in part:

Sam Smith

“When you set sail on your journey/ And happiness is far away/ Love will guide you ’til the mornin’/ Lead your heart down to the bay/ Don’t resist the rain and storm/ I’ll never leave you lost at sea/ I will be your lighthouse keeper/ Bring you safely homе to me.”

Click here for more and to hear part of the song

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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 Jeremy@uslhs.org

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