Episode 136 – Point Sur juts out from a rugged portion of the California coast 25 miles south of Monterey Bay. The Lighthouse Board had considered a lighthouse at Point Sur as early as 1856, but the terrain was daunting. The difficulties of construction were overcome and a light station went into service on August 1, 1889. In 1984, the Coast Guard turned over most of the station to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Point Sur State Historic Park was soon born. A nonprofit organization, Central Coast Lighthouse Keepers, was formed in 1993 to support the preservation of the light station. John and Carol O’Neil have been working as Point Sur State Historic Park volunteers for about 27 years, and John serves as chair of the Central Coast Lighthouse Keepers while Carol is the historian.
Episode 137 – Andy Robinson is a junior at Palo Alto High School in California and he’s been a volunteer for the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s passport program, helping to update information on stamp locations and events. He’s written histories for a series of collectible passport stamps to commemorate lost lighthouses. He’s started a California chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society: the California Lighthouse Society. J. Dennis Robinson is a popular columnist, lecturer, and public historian living in Portsmouth on the New Hampshire Seacoast. He’s the author of a dozen nonfiction books and he’s also written about 3000 published articles on a variety of history topics, including the local lighthouses. His latest book is a mystery novel called Point of Graves. He discusses his new book in this interview, as well the iconic importance of the region’s lighthouses.
Episode 138 – Stingray Point Lighthouse in Virginia, built in 1858, marked a dangerous shoal at the mouth of the Rappahannock River. In 1861, six enslaved men used the lighthouse – which was abandoned during the Civil War — as a safe house while waiting to catch a Union ship that would allow them to escape slavery. Bessida Cauthorne White is an activist, genealogist, and retired attorney, and she was involved in the dedication by the Middle Peninsula African American Genealogical and Historical Society of an historical marker commemorating the 1861 incident involving Stingray Point. Donald S. Murray was born and raised in Ness in the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. He’s written 14 books and published countless essays, columns, short stories, and poems in a variety of publications. In his new book, For the Safety of All, Donald explores Scotland’s lighthouses through history, storytelling, and the voices of the lightkeepers.
Episode 139 – Funds were appropriated for the Marblehead Lighthouse at the entrance to Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie in Ohio in 1819, and the limestone tower went into service in 1822. The lighthouse is now part of nine-acre Marblehead Lighthouse State Park. The Marblehead Lighthouse Historical Society operates a museum in the old keeper’s house, with exhibits on the history of the lighthouse and the local area. Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse for spectacular views of Lake Erie and its islands. Dennis Kennedy is the president of the Marblehead Lighthouse Historical Society.
Episode 140 – Cape Otway Lighthouse — in southern Victoria, Australia, about 50 miles southwest of Melbourne — is nicknamed the “Beacon of Hope.” For thousands of immigrants in the 1800s, Cape Otway was the first sight of land after leaving Europe, Asia, and North America. It’s the oldest surviving lighthouse on the Australian mainland and it’s also considered the most significant. Built in 1848, the lighthouse stands on a high cliff at the western entrance to Bass Strait between Australia and Tasmania. Today, overnight accommodations are available in the head keeper’s cottage. Alex Parry is the operations coordinator for Cape Otway Light Station.
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