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Lighthouse News of the Week – March 5, 2021

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse (FL) officials hope for higher museum attendance, future expansion

The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse keeper’s house museum opened in December 2019 — but the COVID-19 pandemic promptly produced a virtual visitation blackout last year. Now, with expanded tour offerings amid accelerating coronavirus vaccinations, officials are eyeing a future $800,000 expansion project to someday build two more replica cottages around the historic lighthouse.

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, Florida. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

Wednesday, foundation officials invited media to tour the lighthouse and museum at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Dating to 1868, this cast-iron, brick-lined lighthouse stands 151 feet high — with 176 steps winding up to the lantern room. A museum display lists the lighthouse keepers’ job duties during those early days. Per federal instruction, they were bound to punctually light lamps daily from sunset to sunrise; trim wicks every four hours; watch for shipwrecks; remain sober; and prohibit strangers from the lamp room after sunset.

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Historic Erie Land Lighthouse (PA) operations turned over to Presque Isle Lighthouse staff

The Erie Land Lighthouse is about to get a new keeper. Presque Isle Lighthouse staff will oversee daily operations of the iconic Erie landmark starting April 1 under terms of a two-year management agreement finalized Wednesday between the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority and the Presque Isle Lighthouse board of directors. The historic 48-foot-tall sandstone tower is located at the foot of Lighthouse Street, about three blocks east of East Avenue, in Erie. 

Erie Land Lighthouse, Pennsylvania. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Tom Tag

Under the agreement, the Port Authority will continue to own the two-acre property, which includes a residence, currently vacant, on the lighthouse grounds.  Presque Isle Lighthouse officials said they plan to open the lighthouse and its grounds for paid public tours once COVID-19 rules are relaxed. 

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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (NC) climbing season on hold as restoration work begins

The National Park Service says that any Cape Hatteras Lighthouse climbing season this summer would be shortened as the iconic 150-year-old lighthouse begins a major restoration project. Approximately 500,000 people visit the Cape Hatteras Light Station annually and approximately 1,500 people climb the lighthouse daily between April and October. 

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, North Carolina (Cape Hatteras National Seashore)

According to Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) spokesperson Michael Barber, the climbing season at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will not begin until at least after the completion of the interior paint removal project, which will begin this month and take several months to complete.

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Escanaba Public Library (MI) planning ‘Ladies of the Lights’ virtual program

On Tuesday, March 23 at 6:30 p.m., Escanaba Public Library, in conjunction with Promote Michigan, will celebrate Women’s History Month with the presentation “Ladies of the Lights,” a virtual program by Dianna Stampfler. Escanaba is familiar with Mary Terry and the Sand Point Lighthouse, but there were many more “Ladies of the Lights” around the Great Lakes. They were women before their time, taking on the romantic, yet dangerous and physically demanding job of tending to the beacons that protected the shoreline.

Early 1900s postcard of Sand Point Lighthouse, Escanaba, Michigan.
(U.S. Lighthouse Society archives)

Dianna Stampfler is a member of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, Michigan Maritime Museum, and the Historical Society of Michigan, and is on the board of the Michigan Hemingway Society. She is also a regular contributor to many Michigan-based publications, including Michigan Living and Michigan Travel Ideas.

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Climb the Light: New attraction this season at Cape Forchu Lighthouse in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, Canada

Visitors to the Cape Forchu Lighthouse in Yarmouth County will be able to book a new experience online before they arrive this season. For a nominal fee, they will be able to climb the spiral stairs inside the lighthouse to the top of the tower to take in the spectacular views.

Cape Forchu Lighthouse, Nova Scotia. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Josette D’Entremont.

The popular tourist attraction, which stands 125 feet above sea level and has a unique apple core shape, was built in 1962 to replace the original lighthouse that began operation in 1839. Cape Forchu lighthouse site is tentatively set to open in May. Visitors who have not been able to book the climb online will be able to participate if space is available. A maximum of four people can take the tour at one time with the guide, and a waiver must be signed prior to the climb.

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The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex – haunting folk tale rebooted in new novel

From The Guardian: Anyone who grew up in Scotland in the 70s and early 80s can tell you about the lighthouse keepers of the remote Flannan Isles in the Outer Hebrides in the early 20th century. The story of the three men who settled down to eat only to seemingly vanish into thin air haunted my childhood – and it would appear that of Emma Stonex too. The author’s first novel under her own name transports the location to the close-knit but still remote Cornish coast and updates the action, plausibly, to 1972 – an era when mobile phones don’t exist – before flashing forward to 1992 when an investigative journalist believes he has uncovered the truth but needs the men’s very different widows and girlfriends to prove it.

The Flannan Isles Lighthouse keepers that disappeared:- L-R Thomas Marshall, James Ducat, Donald Macarthur, with Northern Lighthouse Board Superintendent Robert Muirhead
(U.S. Lighthouse Society archives)

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Port Isabel Lighthouse (TX) reopens to the public

The City of Port Isabel has announced the reopening of Port Isabel Lighthouse. Hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. City officials said tickets may only be purchased through at the Keeper’s Cottage Visitors Center with a credit or debit card. COVID-19 restrictions will apply.

Port Isabel Lighthouse, Texas. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

Tours of the Lighthouse will be self-guided and will be limited to 15 minutes. Groups no larger than 6 persons may tour at one time. Children must be 4 years old and 38″ tall to tour the lighthouse. A child may not be carried by an adult.

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Biloxi Lighthouse turning green for Irish Heritage Month

Although COVID-19 has caused some of the Coast’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day festivities to be canceled, the Hibernia Marching Society is still finding ways to celebrate Irish culture throughout March. Due to a blown fuse, the Biloxi Lighthouse was unable to turn green Thursday evening. However, once it’s fixed, the lighthouse will be sporting its new color for all of March in honor of Irish Heritage Month.

Biloxi Lighthouse, Mississippi (U.S. Lighthouse Society photo)

With so many people on the Gulf Coast of Irish heritage, the Hibernia Marching Society wants to make sure to still recognize the Irish culture and also invite others to celebrate as well. “This is what we like to say: ‘Come along and be a part because if you’re born Irish, married Irish, or just Irish by desire, we welcome you aboard.”

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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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