« PreviousContinue »
MARBLEHEAD (MASS.) LIGHT STATION.--EIGHTH DISTRICT. But, as for that, romance is a part of are the street lamps of the ocean; and the daily lot of all the more than 4,000 back and forth, to and fro, along the men and women who serve Uncle Sam's watery thoroughfares which they illighthouse establishment, for the lights lumine, pass nightly thousands of ves
sels, deep-laden not only with freight and passengers, but with that immemorial mystery and romance which forever clings to those who "go down to the sea in ships."
Your typical lighthouse keeper is a quiet, taciturn man, wedded to solitude so long that he has fallen in love with it. He is weather-wise beyond all other men, for during long days he has watched the clouds and smelt the changing airs and felt the constantly changing pressure of the atmosphere, until a far-off coming storm affects him even more quickly than it would the barometer. He is the true hero of duty. The soldier may lead a forlorn hope against an unconquerable fortress, and die an instant later secure in the consciousness that history will embalm his name.
But the humble lighttender has no such sudden inspiration. His is the heroism of daily, nightly, unending, unforgetting, commonplace toil.
Occasionally, indeed, he may be called Miss HARRIET E. COLFAX.
upon to face some great danger in the Keeper of the Light at Michigan City, Indiana, the Oldest Lighthcuse Keeper in America.
performance of his duty, and he rarely
fails to rise to the emergency. For, to him, the lighthouses on the coast, and that the lights are lit and burning counts agreed to maintain them thereafter, more than anything else in life. He plays they were eight in number, as folthe "ounce of prevention" to the "pound lows-Portsmouth, N. H.; Boston, Plyof cure" of his more spectacular but mouth, and Nantucket, Mass.; Beaver hardly more heroic colleagues of the gov Tail, R. I.; Sandy Hook, N. J.; Cape ernment Life-Saving Service.
Henlopen, Delaware; and Charleston, S.
C. All of these lights are still in existOrigin of Lighthouses
ence, though so greatly improved that
they are the same only in purpose and The origin of all lighthouse systems in site. The service was at first placed may be traced back to prehistoric times
under the Secretary of the Treasury, and when fishermen built fires on the beach
so continued until July 1, 1903, when it to guide their absent comrades back to
was transferred by Act of Congress to shore. It is curious to note that two
the newly created Department of Comof the seven wonders of the world were
merce and Labor. lighthouses—the Pharos of Alexandria, and the Colossus of Rhodes.
Expansion of the Service The Lighthouse System of the United States commenced with its commerce; Between 1789 and 1820, the number of and private lights and beacons
lights was enlarged under conwere set up very early in our his
gressional enactments from 8 to tory; but the first authentic rec
55. Between 1820 and 1852, the ord of this being done at public
establishment increased from 55 charge was on March 9, 1673,
lighthouses and a few buoys to when the citizens of Nantasket,
325 lighthouses, 35 light-vessels, Massachusetts, petitioned the
numerous buoys, etc. - for all General Court for a reduction of
aids to navigation, as well as their taxes, because of the labor
lights, are included under the and material they had expended
jurisdiction of the Light-House (over and above their propor
Establishment, such as buoys of tion) in building a beacon on
various kinds, beacons, fog sigPoint Allerton, the most prom
nals, day marks, post lights, etc. inent headland near the entrance
But while great progress had to Boston Harbor.
been made in the number of The first regular lighthouse
lights, etc., no system had been on this continent was built at the
adopted. Congress authorized entrance to Boston Harbor in
new lights in a haphazard way; 1715-16, by the General Court of
some were built where not really the Province of Massachusetts
needed, and the whole establishBay, and was supported by light
ment grew too large for one man dues of one penny per ton on all
to manage properly. Complaints incoming and outgoing vessels,
were made that our lights were except coasters. The other col
confusing in character, and that onies followed the example of
they were not equipped with the Massachusetts; and when the
most modern apparatus. United States in 1789 accepted
A Board Organized the cession of, and the title to,
In 1845, two naval officers
taries, serve without additional pay, i. e., without any other than the regular pay of their rank or position.
From eight lighthouses in 1789, the number has now grown to over 3,400, about 1,800 of these being tubular lanterns post lights on the Western rivers, leaving about 1,000 for the Atlantic and Gulf coasts,
200 for the Pacific BAR POINT LIGHT STATION, DETROIT RIVER.–TENTH DISTRICT. coast, and 400 for
the Great Lakes.
Including lightwere sent to Europe to study the systems ships, gas-lighted buoys, fog signals, in use there, and to recommend improve unlighted beacons, whistling and bell ments. Their report showed that the buoys, etc., the establishment embraces United States was far from being up to the grand total of about 10,300 aids to the standard of Great Britain and France, navigation. Its annual cost of mainteand that the Fresnel illuminating ap
nance now approximates $4,000,000. paratus was superior to any in use in America. The result was that in 1852
Modern Improvements Congress organized the Light-House Board practically as it exists to-day. This During the fifty-two years that the Board, with offices in Washington, has Light-House Board has been in existence, charge of the entire system of aids to navigation in the United States. It is composed of two officers of the Navy, two Engineer officers of the Army, and two civilians of high scientific attain ments whose services may be at the disposal of the President. An officer of the Navy and an officer of Engineers of the Army, are also attached to the Board as Secretaries. All the members, well as the Secre
BUFFALO (N. Y.) BREAKWATER, NORTH END LIGHT.-TENTH DISTRICT.
it has gradually adopted all the most teenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth are on modern improvements in lights, buoys, the Western rivers. etc.; has experimented upon various In each district there is an Engineer kinds of illuminants, fog signals, etc.; officer of the Army whose duty it is to has built up a thoroughly reliable scheme build and repair the towers, dwellings, of supply and inspection; and had piers, etc.; and there is also an officer
of the Navy detailed to each district as Light-House Inspector. The Inspector is charged with the maintenance of the lights, and with the discipline of the keepers. He supervises the placing and changing of buoys; attends to the supplying of oil, wicks, chimneys, paint, coal, tools, boats, cleaning materials, etc.; has charge of the light-ships and their equipment, as well as of the lighthouse tenders (the name “tender" being given to the vessels used to carry on the work of supply); inspects and reports on each light quarterly ; nominates new men who have passed the necessary examination for keeper when vacancies occur ; and pays the keepers' salaries and the salaries of the men employed on the tenders, as well as the bills for current expenses in the district. These payments are all made by check on the Assistant Treasurer of the United States.
THIRD-ORDER LIGHTNING Light, TOLEDO (Ohio) Har
BOR. –TENTH DISTRICT.
adopted practical civil service reform in the treatment of its employees years before the Civil Service Commission came into existence.
Districts For convenience of administration, the coasts, lakes, and rivers of the United States have been divided into sixteen Districts, The First to the Sixth are on the Atlantic coast; the Seventh and Eighth embrace the southern part of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico; the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh are on the Great Lakes; the Twelfth and Thirteenth are on the Pacific coast; while the Four
In each district there is an office for tricity is employed. Gas has been used the Engineer, and one for the Inspector, in a few instances. located in some central city; and an office The use of electric lights in lighthouses force of one or more clerks and writers has not given entire satisfaction. They is allowed, to attend to official corre are very expensive, and are not as respondence and keep the records.
liable, even for the first-order lights, as
mineral oil, while for the numerous Mineral Oil the Principal Illuminant minor lights electricity has no superiority The Light-House Board has changed
Orders of Lights the illuminant used whenever a better one was found. The "fier balls of pitch and Lights are divided into classes, or “or
ocum" used in an open brazier at Point ders." The most powerful are called Allerton in 1673, were succeeded by tal "First-order" lights; then "Second”, low candles at Boston in 1716, which “Third”, etc., to "Sixth.” There are, begave way to fish oil at Sandy Hook in sides, many lens lanterns and tubular 1760. This in turn was succeeded by lanterns used at less important points. sperm oil burned in a sort of argand lamp. For a time, Colza-oil (expressed
The Fresnel Apparatus from the seed of several plants, especially The greatest advance made in the usethat of the wild cabbage) was employed. fulness of our lights was the adoption Lard oil then came into use; and that of the Fresnel lenticular apparatus. in turn was supplanted by mineral oil, These lenses are nearly all made in which is the cheapest and most satis France, and are very expensive. Through factory illuminant yet tried. Mineral oil their use, few of the rays of light are is now in use in every lighthouse in the wasted, nearly all being concentrated in United States, except four in which elec a broad penetrating beam. With one of