Episode 126 – The waters around Newport, Rhode Island, were busy with passenger steamers, fishing boats, and freighters in the mid-nineteenth century. On July 20, 1868, Congress appropriated $7,500 for a lighthouse on Rose Island. The site chosen was a surviving bastion of eighteenth-century Fort Hamilton and the lighthouse went into service on January 20, 1870. In the 1980s, a group of dedicated preservationists founded the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation to protect the historic structure. The lighthouse has been restored to the 1912-1915 period. In 1992, the lighthouse was opened to the public. The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation recently changed its name to the Rose Island Lighthouse and Fort Hamilton Trust, and Brian Tefft is the executive director of the Trust.
Special Edition –Ireland’s Hook Lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the world. The tapering headland of Hook Head is in the southwestern part of County Wexford, on the southeast coast of Ireland below Dublin. In the fifth century, a monastery was established on the peninsula. According to tradition, the early monks erected a beacon that burned fire to warn mariners away from the dangerous rocks on the Hook peninsula. A more substantial lighthouse tower was built around the year 1200. The light was automated in 1996 and the last light keepers were removed. The old keepers’ houses were turned into a visitor center and the light station was opened to the public in 2001. Noel Lynch is a tour guide and entertainer at the Hook Lighthouse.
Episode 127 –The lighthouse at Piney Point in Maryland –14 miles from Chesapeake Bay up the Potomac River — was established in 1836, making it the oldest lighthouse on the river. n 1980 the property was transferred to St. Mary’s County and a museum was established. April Havens is the site manager at the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park. Split Rock Lighthouse is located on a 127-foot-high cliff on the northwest shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. After it was discontinued as an official navigational aid in 1969, ownership was transferred to the State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society administers the site. Lee Radzak became the lighthouse site manager in November 1982. After retiring in 2019, Lee began work on a new book — The View from Split Rock: A Lighthouse Keeper’s Life.
Episode 128 – Chris Overcash is the Senior Engineer and Deputy Director of Coastal Resilience for EA Engineering, Science, and Technology in Maryland. He’s also a longtime maritime enthusiast, which led him to get involved 17 years ago with the effort to preserve Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, the only cottage-style screw-pile lighthouse still in its original location in Chesapeake Bay. He completed an environmental assessment of the lighthouse and designed a landing dock for visitor access and tours. More recently, he completed a resilience study on how climate change will affect Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse. The special guest co-host for this episode is Shalana Millard, a writer and lighthouse aficionado living in Washington D.C.
Episode 129 –Point Cabrillo is in Northern California, about midway between San Francisco and the border with Oregon. Construction of a lighthouse began in the summer of 1908. An octagonal lighthouse tower was combined with a fog signal building in an attractive building that has been likened to a small church. The last Coast Guard keepers left in 1972 and in 1992 the property was bought by the California State Coastal Conservancy. After restoration, the duty of managing the station was handed over to the nonprofit Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association. Jen Lewis is the Outreach Manager for the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association.
Episode 130 – Elinor DeWire is an award-winning author, editor, public speaker, educator, and blogger based in Connecticut. She’s authored some twenty books about lighthouses. She’s also written early Victorian-era novels, plus four books and a number of articles about amateur astronomy and sky watching. Also in this episode: an interview with Bill Gicker, director of Stamp Services for the U.S. Postal Service. On August 6, 2021, the USPS released a new set of five Mid-Atlantic lighthouse stamps.
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