SHORE VILLAGE MUSEUM NEWSLETTER No. 2-99, November 19, 1999 - page 2
U. S. LIGHTSHIP MEMORIAL AT NEW BEDFORD, MASS: On Sept 15, 1999 the City of New Bedford dedicated a memorial to U. S. Lightships CROSS RIP #6 which was lost with six of her crew when the vessel was ripped from its mooring and drifted out to sea and never seen again. The NANTUCKET #117 was rammed by the HMS OLYMPIC sending her to the bottom in a matter of minutes. The OLYMPIC, sister ship to HMS TITANIC struck the lightship at 16 knots killing four crewmen instantly. Three others died later of injuries. Only the Captain of the lightship and three crewmen survived. The subsequent inquiry concluded that the collision was due solely to fault and negligence of the OLYMPIC and those in charge of her.í The owners of the White Star Line paid $500,000 to settle the case before it came to court. Families were compensated and a new lightship NANTUCKET LS-112 was built to replace the stricken vessel. The VINEYARD SOUND #47 was lost in the September 1944 "Great Atlantic Hurricane." Termed by the U.S. Weather Bureau, as one of the largest and most powerful storms to savage the East Coast. Perhaps one of the largest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded, the Great Atlantic Hurricane generated hurricane force winds over an estimated width of 200 miles and spawned gale force winds over a swath of 600 miles. In terms of destruction, this hurricane sank a total of 5 ships, claiming 344 lives at sea and 46 lives ashore. On the USS WARRINGTON 247 sailors died, as did 97 other sailors from the Coast Guard Cutters BEDLOE and JACKSON, VINEYARD SOUND LIGHTSHIP #47 and the Navy Minesweeper YMS 409. The memorial is actually the fog bell of VINEYARD LIGHTSHIP that had been recovered. The Memorial plaques were engraved "In Tribute to the Heroes of the United States Lightship Service Who Gave Their Lives in Service to Fellow Mariners." Harold W. Flagg, the only living survivor of the VINEYARD participated in the ceremony. The ceremony was indeed touching and well presented by all involved. The memorial is in a park near to New Bedford State Pier.
VIDEOTAPE OF U.S. LIGHTSHIP MEMORIAL AT NEW BEDFORD: The City of New Bedford had a number of people video taping the ceremonies at the Lightship Memorial there in Sept. They have had the tapes screened and made into one excellent tape of these touching, well organized and inspiring ceremonies. Also included on the tape is the presentation of a lecture by Doug Bingham on the Lightships of Cape Cod, which was conducted at the New Bedford Whaling Museum auditorium. The City of New Bedford has kindly authorized the Shore Village Museum to make copies available for circulation. I will have at least five tapes ready for this project and will simply send copies out when requested and have that person mail it along to the next in line and not return it to the Shore Village Museum. Anyone with any interests whatever in Lightships should see this tape.
ROUND ISLAND LIGHT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING: The headline tells the facts but cannot relay the disappointment in the hearts of the scouts from Troop 322, Freeland, Michigan who have spent three years ìverticalizing" the privy only to return on July 31st to find that lightning had hit and destroyed their privy just the previous night. Lightning bolts were seen to strike several times on Round Island but the damage to the privy was not seen until the scouts arrived. The lightning produced an extremely hot fire, which caused the roof and all other wooden parts to burst in to flames. Bits of aluminum and tar were found embedded in the neighboring oil house and in nearby rocks. Inspection showed that the mortar and brick walls to be damaged by the heat and the building cannot support a replacement roof. They can consider the privy a ruin and raze it or salvage the bricks and rebuild the privy.
SCIENCE MAKES A BETTER LIGHTHOUSE LENS: That is the title of an article in the August edition of the Smithsonian magazine. The two page article is one of the best that I have seen on the development of lighthouses way back to the seven wonders of the world to the point that Augustin Jean Fresnel developed the first Fresnel lens in 1822. This is an outstanding photograph of the classical Fresnel lens that was used in the Bolivar Lighthouse in Texas. It was described as measuring nearly six feet high and more than three feet wide, which probably makes it a third order. Several lines of the closing paragraph are quoted. ìAugustin Jean Fresnel who lived only a short \while after inventing his great device, had been dead for nearly a century and a half. Along with the lens, Fresnel left behind his theories of light, which form the basis of modern optics. Today, the principle behind the Fresnel lens is used in the headlights of cars and in the flashing lights on police and emergency vehicles. And in a few older lighthouses around the country, and the world, Fresnelís elegant beehives still shine.
ACETYLENE LIGHT AT LAKE TAHOE, CA: Jeri Prange sent some unusual information about a light that was originally located on Lake Tahoe in California. She described the unattended light as "Outhouse size" and enclosed photographs of the remnants of the aid. She included a photo of a Park Service sign with the following details "Lighthouse -- In 1916 J. J. Bodison of the U. S. Coast Guard erected a small lighthouse on Rubicon Point. The lighthouse was powered by acetylene gas and was supposed to aid in navigation. Due to difficulties in keeping the light supplied with fuel and confusion because of its elevation above the shore, it was shut down in 1919. A new lighthouse was built at Sugar Pine Point in the same year, and still stands today." Jeri plans to locate the light at Sugar Pine Point in the future and will pass the information along
THRIFT DIMS A WELL-LOVED LIGHTHOUSE: That is the headline of a story that appeared in the New York Times Oct. 11, 1999 edition. The article is well written by Paul Ziebauer of Cambra, CA. It tells of the storm damage to the Piedras Blancas Light and the subsequent replacement of the Fresnel lens with a modern type lens. One statement by the author of the article was interesting. He said "Perhaps the change (in Lighthouse lenses) was inevitable. In this age of satellites and geo\positioning software, when a mate can calculate a ship's position by pushing a few numbers into a hand-held computer, the lighthouses like sextants are now more essential to nostalgia than navigation." The original lens installed in Piedras Blancas Light was a first order Bi-Valve Fresnel lens that, according to the National Park Service Inventory was given to the Lions Club of Cambria in the late 1940s. The article indicates that the 8,400-pound Fresnel lens was replaced in 1949 when either a storm flooded the light or its inner working cracked -- the Historical Society is not sure which is accurate. Instead of making necessary repairs, the Coast Guard installed a new more modern one and left the original for junk a few yards from shore. A few years later, the Cambria Lions club rescued the chipped and rusted lens and, with Coast Guard permission mounted it on a concrete dais in town. There was an effort by the City of Alemeda to reclaim the lens. Cambria ultimately won as Coast Guard decided to permanently lend the lens to Cambria if someone would insure it for $2 million. This caused a comment to be made - "What was worthless in 1949 became priceless in 1951." The old Fresnel lens remains on display under a glass dome in Cambria. Thanks to Richard Lothrop for the clipping. Copy of this most interesting article is available.
HILLSBORO LIGHTHOUSE BUILT IN DETROIT: Paul Bradley sent a Xerox of a rare photograph of the Hillsboro lighthouse being erected in Detroit, Michigan. In 1905 the Russell Wheel and Foundry Co. received a contract for all of the ironwork at a price of $25,000. The contract required fabrication to detailed drawings by the Lighthouse Engineer. There were long, heavy vertical pipes, complex castings forming the connectors, and many curved plates making up the central tower and three rooms on the top. These castings and pipes had to be very strong to withstand the weight of the tower and the tremendous forces, which could develop during hurricanes. There were many manufacturing difficulties, and the contract required erecting the entire tower in Detroit for final inspection. After inspection in March 1906 the tower was disassembled and the pieces shipped to the remote Hillsboro Inlet location. Xerox copy available.
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