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Lighthouse News – July 23, 2021

$18 million approved to restore historic Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a venerable landmark that has stood dramatically over the San Mateo County coast for 150 years but fallen badly into disrepair over the past two decades, appears finally to be headed for a major restoration. The 115-foot-tall brick structure south of Half Moon Bay has been awarded full funding to complete an $18.9 million restoration as part of California’s new state budget.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

Construction will take about 18 months to complete. Crews will erect scaffolding around the unreinforced masonry tower and strengthen its insides with concrete beams. They will repair the catwalk, cast iron bracing, guardrails, and other features. Also on the list: repairing cracked masonry and leaking brick walls and shoring up the roof.

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Longtime Gay Head Lighthouse (MA) Keeper Retires

Since the opening of the original wooden Gay Head Light in 1799, no keeper has served longer than Richard Skidmore. For 31 years, Mr. Skidmore has overseen the beacon perched at the westernmost edge of Martha’s Vineyard that has guided mariners for hundreds of years. Last Tuesday, his tenure came to an official close at the Aquinnah select board meeting with the confirmation of his retirement.

Gay Head Cliffs and lighthouse, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

Until the town appoints a new keeper, Mr. Skidmore will be available to help in the event of an emergency. Meanwhile, he said he will use his newfound free time to pursue various artistic endeavors. “I’m a writer, photographer and filmmaker as well, so to be able to focus on those things is going to be really rewarding for me,” he said.

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Listen to an interview with Richard Skidmore on the USLHS podcast Light Hearted:

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Mission Point Lighthouse celebrates Michigan’s maritime heritage

One hundred-fifty years ago Mission Point Lighthouse and its keepers began a lifesaving legacy for ships sailing West Grand Traverse Bay. The fifth annual Michigan Lighthouse Festival honors the Traverse City historic sentinel’s service August 6-7. Event organizer Marge Ellenberger said about 100 lighthouse fans are expected to attend the festival kickoff dinner Friday evening at Turtle Creek Hotel in Williamsburg.

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

Program highlights include a living history performance by Joe Smith interpreting the life and contributions of Augustin Fresnel, inventor of the Fresnel lens. The lenses provided a beacon seen by ships as far as 20 miles from shore. On Aug. 7, National Lighthouse Day, the public is invited to free celebrations at Mission Point Lighthouse, one of only 39 Michigan lighthouses regularly opened for public viewing. Vendors present include representatives from other Michigan lighthouses, lighthouse book authors, and artisans.

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2021 Michigan Lighthouse Festival

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H. Lee White Maritime Museum (New York) Continues Summer Lighthouse Tours

Over the last several years, the H. Lee White Maritime Museum has hosted tours out to the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse, and these journeys have returned for the summer. Tours are available on Fridays and Saturdays. The lighthouse has four floors from the main machine room where guests enter the building to the top lantern deck that offers a beautiful view of the Oswego Harbor.

Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse, New York. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

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Celebrate local lighthouses in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, during National Lighthouse Weekend

Join the St. Mary’s County Museum Division in celebrating some of St. Mary’s County’s most significant lighthouses during National Lighthouse Weekend, Saturday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, at Piney Point Lighthouse in Piney Point and Blackistone Lighthouse on St. Clement’s Island, near Colton’s Point. Special activities and tours will be available at both locations during the entire weekend.

Piney Point Light Station, Maryland. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

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Closing date set for auction of Connecticut’s Penfield Reef Lighthouse

There are about two and a half weeks left in the online public auction for the Penfield Reef Lighthouse, the U.S. General Services Administration announced Monday. The online auction opened to potential buyer on June 21. The agency set the close date for the auction for 11 a.m. on August 5.

Penfield Reef Lighthouse, Connecticut. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

Currently, there are two bids on the lighthouse and property. The highest bid as of Monday morning was $120,000. Bids can be made online at bit.ly/3wT1JKS.

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Community group hoping to make Shipwreck Point Lighthouse (PEI, Canada) shine again

Shipwreck Point Lighthouse, PEI, Canada. Courtesy of PEI Lighthouse Society.

A local community group is still waiting for an official response from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to decide the fate of an Island lighthouse. Shipwreck Point Lighthouse sits upon the fabled Prince Edward Island red rock cliffs, shining its light as a warning to maritime vessels. It’s a destination for many tourists seeking the traditional Island view. The Friends of Shipwreck Point Lighthouse was established in 2013 and submitted its plan shortly after to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


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Filmmaker Rob Apse Highlights North Shore Lighthouses in New Documentary

What’s not to like—some would say love—about lighthouses? As human-made structures, their picturesque beauty is unmatched, they still serve a noble purpose, and they’re steeped in a daring, fascinating past. George Bernard Shaw was spot-on when he wrote: “I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as lighthouses. They were built only to serve.”

Filmmaker Rob Apse (right) with Ford Reiche, owner of Halfway Rock Lighthouse in Maine.

To filmmaker Rob Apse, director of the new documentary The Last Lightkeepers, “Lighthouses have shown a stability in people’s minds. The film reveals a time when the interactions of humans to other humans helped mariners to survive. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from. Lighthouses are important symbols we need today in the turmoil of the political climate.”

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“The Last Lightkeepers” website

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Dunkirk Lighthouse (NY) sees visitor numbers rise

While last year wasn’t a normal year for the Dunkirk Lighthouse, administrator David Briska said things have returned to some normalcy in 2021. The lighthouse has been open since May 1, and has done well, though May tends to be a slow month, Briska said. But in June, they started getting close to the number of clients they’re used to.

Dunkirk Lighthouse, New York. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

The Dunkirk Lighthouse is holding a yard sale through Saturday to help raise money, as right now the big project is installing 1,100 feet of fencing around the grounds to make it safer.

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Don’t turn off the light: Haunted West Point Lighthouse (PEI, Canada) focus of many local legends

Towering high above the water at 66 feet, a powerful automated revolving light flashes above a black and white striped pyramidal tower that contains a one-and-a-half-story dwelling below. Since 1876 – and manned until 1963, when the second lighthouse keeper retired – West Point lighthouse has been guiding vessels across the treacherous, foam-crested waves of the Northumberland Strait that had caused many a past shipwreck. Canada’s first active lighthouse inn continues to attract – not just visitors or guests – but the unexplained.

West Point Lighthouse, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Courtesy of West Point Lighthouse Inn & Museum

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West Point Lighthouse & Museum website

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Lighthouses could become tourism spots in India in the near future

India might soon be getting world-class facilities at its lighthouses. The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021 was passed by the Lower House of the Parliament, and it aims to bring heritage lighthouses in the country to the forefront. The lighthouses could be designated as aids to navigation under the control of the central government, while also developing them into cultural, educational hubs, besides a tourism hub. The lighthouses in question are distributed among the various states of the country.

Gadkari Lighthouse, India. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

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Twin Lights (NJ) shine on New U.S. Postal Service stamp

On Friday, Aug. 6, the USPS will present one of its newest themed stamp collections at a public event at Navesink Twin Lights in New Jersey, fitting because one of the stamps features the iconic lighthouse. The Mid-Atlantic Lighthouse Forever stamps, highlighting five lighthouses from Montauk to the Chesapeake Bay, are the last in a series of stamp collections that previously featured New England, Pacific Coast, Gulf Coast and other regional lighthouses.

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Occupation: Lighthouse Keeper (Machias Seal Island, New Brunswick, Canada)

Ralph Eldridge believes that the job of a lighthouse keeper is probably one of the least understood. However, it is among the simplest, according to him, which he has been practicing for 50 years. The number of staff has been reduced over the years. In the Bay of Fundy alone, there were about 70 keepers for about 30 lighthouses in 1971. There are now only four, all located on Machias Seal Island, New Brunswick.

Machias Seal Island Light Station, New Brunswick. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

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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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