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Lighthouse News of the Week – September 3, 2021

Fond du Lac Lighthouse (WI) closed after structural damage found

Fond du Lac’s landmark attraction is out of commission for a while. The Lakeside Park Lighthouse and observation deck are temporarily closed to the public after regular maintenance revealed water damage to wood, the city announced Tuesday.

Fond du Lac Lighthouse, Wisconsin. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Tom Tag.

Assessments are ongoing and the department continues work in partnership with experts to determine the extent of the issue and what repairs may be necessary to resolve the deficiencies and ensure that the lighthouse can reopen to the public once it is safe to do so, the city said. 

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Final stages to begin on Ashtabula Lighthouse (OH) project

A contractor has begun the final stages of work at the historic Ashtabula Lighthouse. The contractor did a large amount of work last year including the installation of electrical wiring, the painting of the building, and the rebuilding of part of the interior of the lighthouse. New windows are being installed along with other finishing touches. The work was funded by a grant of more than $200,000 from the State of Ohio.

Ashtabula Lighthouse, Ohio. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

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Rising Waters: Fighting to preserve history in the face of climate change on the Great Lakes

In 2019 and 2020, water levels on the Great Lakes reached record-breaking highs. While lake levels have gone down this year, most remain above average. “Last year the water was the highest it has been,” said Jim Tamlyn, director of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association.  “Last year you had a lot of lighthouses experiencing a lot of problems.”

Waugoshance Lighthouse on Lake Michigan. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Ralph Eshelman.

“What’s happening in the last few years with the high water levels is largely related to a persistent time period of high precipitation, as well as events that can be considered extreme precipitation,” said Richard Rood, a professor of climate and space sciences and engineering at the University of Michigan. “What it means for things like lighthouses is changes in erosion characteristics,” Rood said.

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East Point Lighthouse issues spotlighted in NJ commissioner bay shore tour

Volunteers running the East Point Lighthouse see New Jersey leaving them high and dry at a time the integrity of that historic structure is in doubt with every significant storm arriving in the Delaware Bay. The Maurice River Historical Society reopened the lighthouse to the public in mid-August, after an involuntary closure lasting about eight months.

East Point Lighthouse
East Point Lighthouse, New Jersey. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

The problem then was, and still is, renewing a lease with the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection. The state owns the property, with the DEP overseeing its leasing, and the society handling daily operations with aid from the township.

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Huge, private Michigan island with working, historic 76-foot-tall lighthouse hits market

It doesn’t get much more secluded than this huge Michigan island, now on the market for $3.9 million. The owner of Middle Island is selling its 227 acres of land along with all of the buildings, which includes full access to a historic 76-foot-tall lighthouse. Middle Island is located north of Alpena. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get there by boat from Rockport Harbor.

Middle Island Lighthouse, Michigan. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Mike and Carol McKinney.

One of its prominent features is the historic lighthouse, which went into operation in 1905. The Coast Guard owns and maintains the active lighthouse, with the owner of the island getting full use of it. The purchase of the island also comes with the two-story red brick double dwelling. There are 12 rooms inside, each in various stages of renovation. Also on the island, the fog signal building has been converted into a lodge which sleeps 10. 

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Currituck Beach Lighthouse (NC) undergoing second leg of restoration work

ICC-Commonwealth, an expert in restoration and preservation of historic structures, has returned to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse to complete long-awaited work. Last spring, ICC came to Corolla to restore the lower iron belt courses of the 145-year-old lighthouse and to remove cast-iron pieces of the roof-supporting cornice system for recasting. Workers left in March of that year with the cornice pieces, brackets and headers that were in the best shape (from the southwest side of the lighthouse) and sent them off to a foundry in Richmond.

Currituck Beach Lighthouse, North Carolina. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

They planned to return within six weeks with both the original and newly recast pieces to replace and/or repair the system that connects the copper roof to the lantern glass. As COVID-19 began its spread, ICC’s return – and the entire project – was delayed. ICC returned in July and has begun work on the cornice.

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Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival (WA) offers family-friendly entertainment

The theme of the 2021 Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival definitely expresses the feelings of residents, who have faced unprecedented personal and professional challenges during a pandemic. After last year’s festival was canceled due to COVID-19, organizers were wondering if the 2021 festival would suffer the same fate.

Mukilteo Lighthouse, Washington. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

But earlier this summer the state lifted most restrictions, and festival officials moved ahead with planning for the return of Mukilteo’s biggest party. Volunteers are ready to welcome visitors to Lighthouse Park Sept. 10-12. The festival features 45 marketplace vendors, 13 food vendors, and numerous sponsor and commercial booths.

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Cork (Ireland) lightkeeper looks back at a life spent on the edge

A third-generation lightkeeper from Cork whose vocation brought him to almost every lighthouse in Ireland says that it was “one of the deepest griefs” of his life when automation killed his trade, “a bereavement just like a death.”

Galley Head Lighthouse, Ireland. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

Now, at 71, Gerald has gone back to working at the Galley Head lighthouse where he grew up and dedicates himself to keeping the history of Ireland’s lighthouses alive.

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East Chop (MA) archaeological survey completed

A three-person archeological team has completed a survey of the 60-foot by 60-foot federal parcel of land that East Chop Lighthouse — in the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts — sits on. The survey was deemed a necessary step before the Coast Guard can begin excavating lead-contaminated soil around the lighthouse. The Coast Guard estimates about 230 tons of soil will be removed from the site and hauled off-Island.

East Chop Lighthouse, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

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London, England, lightship for sale after transformation into celebrity photo studio and private home

The former Trinity House Light Vessel 93 is up for sale. Built in 1938, the extraordinary vessel was used as a floating lighthouse until 2004 when it was renovated into a six-bedroom home and photography studio. Larger than the average London home, Light Vessel 93 was listed for £700,000 in September last year but the asking price has since been reduced by £105,000.

Trinity House Light Vessel 93 first served on the Galloper Station and then on mine watching duties on the River Thames between 1947 and 1953. U.S. Lighthouse Society Archives.

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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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