Saturday, October 6, 2012

See Us at the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival!

Mackinac Point Light, ©Gerald C. Hill.
Next week Our Publisher will travel to deepest Michigan for the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival at the APLEX Event Center in scenic Alpena, by Lake Huron. This year's featured lighthouse is St. Helena, which inspired watercolorist Gerald C. Hill to make a large painting that he will unveil in our booth at 12:00pm on Saturday, October 12. Jerry's newest work has literally been under wraps. We can't wait to see it!

As an avid sailor and classic boat restorer, Jerry Hill has a special affinity for maritime subjects. He did many of the illustrations for our UnitedStates Lighthouses Illustrated Map & Guide, and all of the paintings for the Southeast, Florida, Northwest and California & Hawaii lighthouses maps. Those publications will be for sale at our festival booth, along with matted prints of nine Great Lakes lighthouses featured on the U.S. map., including Mackinac Point, Mich. (above) and Toledo, Ohio (below).
Toledo Light, ©Gerald C. Hill.

Monday, July 30, 2012

California & Hawaii Lighthouses Map!

Cover: Point Cabrillo, CA.
After many long months, at last [Mostly Silent Partner: "Finally!"] our all-new CALIFORNIA & HAWAII LIGHTHOUSES: Illustrated Map & Guide is at the printer. We expect to start shipping orders within two weeks.

The watercolor illustrations are by the talented, fast-working and ever-cheerful Gerald C. (Jerry) Hill, who did all the paintings for our Northwest, Southeast and Florida lighthouse maps, plus the cover and a good chunk of the interior illustrations for United States Lighthouses.

Time, start to finish: 13 months.
Personnel:  2 cartographers, 1 illustrator, 1 graphic designer,
   1 art director/writer/editor, 1 whipper-in.
Photos viewed for art research:  7500+
Illustrations: 31
Hours spent on historical research: Don't ask.
Text: 19,319 words
Cartography Drafts:
   - California map: 28
   - Hawaii map: 12
   - Lake Tahoe inset: 9
   - Lake Havasu inset: 9
   - Bay Area inset: 7
Production Drafts:
   - Mapside: 4
   - Textside: 10
Click on images to view at 1000px.

Monday, June 25, 2012

All in a Day's Work for the Lighthouse Service

Photos of Pacific Northwest lighthouse tender USS Cedar, from
This excerpt from the 1921 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Lighthouses shows what doesn't happen now that all U.S. lighthouses--except one--are fully automated. (Boston Light still has Coast Guard keepers, thanks to the late Senator Edward Kennedy.)

The following extracts from reports received by the bureau give some typical cases of especially meritorious service rendered by vessels and employees of the Lighthouse Service in saving life and property during the fiscal year:
Stranded oil tank.—The Standard Oil tank Atlas, of 1,145 net tons, with a cargo of gasoline and kerosene, struck a reef and was stranded in Snow l ass, about 75 miles from Ketchikan, Alaska, at about 5 o'clock on the morning of December 20, 1920. It appeared that the master of the oil tank feared the vessel would slide off into deep water at low tide and was preparing to abandon ship. The lighthouse tenders Cedar and Fern, which were at the lighthouse depot at Ketchikan, were ordered to proceed at once to the assistance of the Atlas. The floating of the stranded vessel was accomplished promptly by the two tenders and was carried out with skill and good judgment.
Disabled schooner.—The Annie E, a 60-ton schooner which left Honolulu for the island of Hawaii on August 8,1920, with a cargo of lumber and gasoline, sprung several leaks and became disabled the first day out of Honolulu. Two days later three of the sailors, who had left the vessel in an endeavor to make shore and summon assistance, were picked up by a fishing sampan. Motor launches were sent in search of the schooner, and Navy Department hydroplanes and airplanes also made search, but without success. On August 15 information by wireless was received from the U. S. transport Madawaska, which was on its way from Honolulu to Manila, that a sailing vessel showing flareups, but apparently in good condition, was sighted, and gave its location. The lighthouse tender Kukui, which was having its boilers repaired, was ordered to get up steam and leave in search of the missing vessel. The tender left Honolulu the same evening, and the next evening at 8 o 'clock located the disabled schooner 80 miles westward of the location given by the transport Madawaska and about 225 miles from Honolulu. All the members of the crew were rescued by the Kukui, but the dilapidated condition of the schooner made it impossible to tow it to port, and it was set afire to prevent its becoming a menace to navigation.
Motor boat in distress.—At 6 o'clock on the morning of March 29, 1921, the keeper of Bakers Island Light Station, Massachusetts, sighted a small open motor boat in distress about 2 miles northeast of the light station. The wind was northwest and very strong, the weather cold and clear. The keeper and assistant keeper went to the assistance of the boat and found two men who were nearly exhausted from cold and hunger, the boat having broken down the preceding evening. The men were taken to the light station, where they were given a hot breakfast by the light keepers.
Grounded steamer.—On the morning of December 17, 1920, at about 10 o'clock, the U. S. Shipping Board steamer National Bridge, a vessel of 3,545 tons, was found to be aground on Bald Head Shoal, Cape Fear River Bar, N. C, by the lighthouse tender Cypress. A strong southwesterly breeze was blowing. The Cypress ran close enough to throw a heaving line on board the disabled steamer, and with a towing line succeeded in pulling her off the shoal into deep water. The captain of the Cypress states that the tender arrived just in time to save the National Bridge.
Endangered lighthouse.—About 5 o'clock on the morning of December 24, 1920, the keeper of Long Point Shoal Light Station, North Carolina, discovered that a string of 12 or 15 barges had become entangled around the lighthouse, causing violent vibration of the structure. The keeper thought the lighthouse in serious danger, as the sea was running high, with a strong tide. The keeper stated: "I knew that something had to be done, and that quick, or the lighthouse would soon be torn up. When I descended I found that the barges were connected with a heavy wire cable. I got an ax and managed to cut the cable, and by hard labor and perseverance for quite awhile I got the barges on the weather side freed. It was the worst job I ever tackled in the night, but I believe I saved this house from serious damage, if not wreck, for just after this it blew hard."
Disabled motor boat.—On November 11, 1920, at 11 o'clock in the morning, the lighthouse tender Mayflower picked up the disabled motor boat Alleppo, of Newbwyport, Mass., at a point about 10 miles southeast of Cape Ann Light Station, Massachusetts, with two men aboard, who stated that they had been adrift for two days without food or water. The motor boat was without gasoline, had no sail, and the oars were lost. There was no compass and the men had no idea of their location.
Floating dry dock.The 8,000-ton floating dry dock owned by the Charleston Dry Dock & Machine Co., of Charleston, S. C, and which had been temporarily removed from its slip and moored during dredging operations, parted its moorings and went adrift during a heavy squall about 11 o'clock on the night of July 2, 1920. The tide was ebbing and the dry dock was beginning to drift out of the harbor, when the lighthouse tender Mangrove, which was at the lighthouse depot, was notified and promptly got under way. The tender found the' dry dock floating out through Folly Island Channel, a little below Fort Ripley Shoal Light Station, made fast and, assisted by the tugs Cecelia and Manomet, returned the dry dock to the company's wharf. The loss of the dry dock or its serious damage would have been in the nature of a disaster to the owners, its value being estimated at half a million dollars, and would also be very detrimental to local shipowners, who depend on it for docking their vessels.
Wrecked power boat.—On November 17, 1920, during a heavy windstorm, the power boat Stroller, Capt. Langley, was driven upon the dock at the Lazaretto Lighthouse Depot, Maryland, staving in her side. The officers and crew of the lighthouse tender Maple assisted in removing from the sinking vessel the wife and three small children of Capt. Langley and afterwards beaching the vessel.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our First Award! TOURMAP 2012

United States Lighthouses Illustrated Map & Guide won a special award at TOURMAP Festival 2012, in Prague, Czech Republic.
We are thrilled to announce our first-ever prize!

TOURMAP Festival 2012 chose from almost 600 international entries to award the Prix President to our United States Lighthouses Illustrated Map & Guide. We were sad that we couldn't travel to Prague to pick up the sleek crystal award in person on May 18. However the US Ambassador stood in--and then forwarded it to us (see photo above). Read the TOURMAP press release (scroll down).

It takes a village of creativity to make an illustrated map. Kudos to our talented artists, cartographers and designer!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Damp Life on San Francisco Bay

In 1905 Southampton Shoal Lighthouse began lighting the way for the Santa Fe Railroad Company ferry that ran between San Francisco and Point Richmond. Two keepers and their families lived in the 2-story wooden building, which stood on a platform in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

The 1907 inspection report includes these poignant comments:
General opinion: General health at station is fair. 

Diseases: Rheumatism & catarrh prevail during winter & spring months. 

Local causes: Caused by dampness & continual wetting in boating to & from shore. 

Recommended improvement: A power boat supplied to station would cut out the necessity of getting wet & would enable keepers to reach destination in a half hour, whereas at present it is often the case that we are 4 hours & sometimes more in reaching shore, or station.

Access to Lighthouse: Boat landing is situated 3 miles ENE from station, a float moored in 10' of water at high water at Point Richmond. Landing at station is by swinging ladder suspended from lower platform.
In 1960 the decommissioned lighthouse was moved by the St. Francis Yacht Club to Tinsley Island in the San Joaquin Delta, where it is used for lodging.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Historic Reports from Cape Mendocino

We've been doing deep research for our forthcoming California & Hawaii Lighthouses map. And what we found makes for interesting reading (at least we think so!) 100+ years later.

All spelling sic; some paragraph breaks were added for legibility.

From the 1868 U.S. Treasury Report:
Cape Mendocino.—The iron light-house and the keeper's dwelling for this station were completed in San Francisco in September, 1867; but the lens and lantern not arriving in time, the shipment of the tower, lantern and lens was delayed until July last, when they were shipped to Eureka, in Humboldt bay, about thirty miles to the northward of the cape, to avoid the difficulty and risk of landing them there. All the materials for the keeper's dwelling were shipped to the cape during August and September of 1867, a portion of them on board of sailing vessels, and some on board of the steam tender Shubrick. The wreck of that vessel and the probable loss of those materials were mentioned in the annual report of last year. The hull of the Shubrick has since been recovered, but the light-house materials were lost.

The nature of the ground at Cape Mendocino makes it difficult to secure a good foundation. The excavation for the foundation of the keeper's dwelling was made during the summer in ground as hard as rock, and. apparently of equal consistency and durability. In the rainy season, however, this ground becomes soft, and on many parts of the coast, near the cape, landslides have occurred. With these peculiarities in view, the site for the dwelling was chosen on the outcropping of a ledge of shale rock, a ditch was dug round the house, and the bank of the excavation sloped off. These precautions, it is believed, render the foundations secure; it is, however, proper to state that some inconsiderable cracks have appeared in the walls. Should they increase in size or number, it will become necessary to secure the walls by iron ties. The spot selected for the tower was on a projecting rocky ridge; but as that also becomes softer in winter, an excavation has been made two feet deeper than originally intended, and the space filled in to a depth of two feet, and a little larger in circumference than the bed-plate of the tower, with concrete. By the last advices it was expected that the tower would be finished in October of this year.

The dwelling is 29 by 31, with two additions for kitchens, 12 by 14, and is built of the best materials. The walls are of brick, with an air space between the roof covered with galvanized iron. In consequence of the great difficulty in landing materials on the open sea shore, the cost of transportation has exceeded that of the materials.

1869 Treasury Report:
Cape Mendocino.—As reported last year, the lantern for this light-house reached San Francisco in February, 1868, and after waiting until the 20th July for the lens, and it not arriving, it was decided to send the tower (manufactured in San Francisco) and lantern to the Cape, as it would take several months to transport them there and put them up, and it was hoped that the lens would meanwhile reach San Francisco. This occurred, and on August 5 the lens was shipped to the Cape.

From the experience of the previous year in landing materials at the Cape, and the serious delay and expense that would have to be incurred should any part of the iron work or lens apparatus be lost or broken in landing, it was determined to ship all the materials for the tower together with the lantern and illuminating apparatus, to Eureka, Humboldt Bay, and to transport them by wagons to the Cape, some forty miles distant. In November everything was ready, for the exhibition of the light, and after proper notice it was shown for the first time on the night of December 1, 1868, and this important and very difficult work was considered as completed.

During the winter of 1867-68, immediately after the completion of the dwelling-house, several small cracks appeared in the walls, showing that the structure had not settled uniformly; but no new cracks have since been developed, and no fears are entertained regarding the stability of the building. When the light house was about to be commenced, the rocky slope on which it was to be built had to be made level to receive the concrete of the foundation. In summer this rock is very hard, but in winter it absorbs water to such an extent as to become soft; so much so, in localities not far distant, that masses of the steep bluffs sometimes slide off into the sea. It is possible that such a slide on a small scale might occur on the steep bank just above the tower, which was left in making the excavation.

As a proper precaution it is deemed advisable to slope the earth or rock above the tower to a more gentle inclination, and to cover this grade with a bed of concrete of sufficient thickness, and about twenty-five feet in width on each side of the center of the tower, with a large drain at the top and a smaller one at the bottom, by which means all the water from the mountain side, the summit of which is nine hundred feet above the tower, will be diverted to the right and left before reaching the tower, and the foundation thus protected. The materials required to do this have been shipped to the Cape.

When the dwelling house at this place was built, brick for the purpose, including a sufficient number for two cisterns, were shipped from San Francisco. In consequence of the inclemency of the weather, a small portion were not landed, and therefore the cisterns were not built. At the time this was considered of but little importance, because there was a spring near the house where a sufficient, though not abundant supply, of water was obtained. This year, however, this spring has almost entirely failed, the rain-fall of last winter having been under the average, and the greater portion of the water required has to be obtained from a stream one and a half miles distant. The materials for the two cisterns which now appear to be necessary have been shipped to the station at a cost of $26 per ton (in coin) for transportation, the only other offer being at $30 per ton. These matters are spoken of in considerable detail to show the great difficulty of foreseeing everything which may be required, and the consequent difficulty in making accurate estimates of the cost of any projected work, as well as the great cost of even the most trivial repairs or improvements upon this exposed and sparsely settled coast.

1872 Treasury Report:
Cape Mendocino, sea-coast of California.—During the month of November, 1871, the keeper's dwelling and cistern, referred to in the last annual report, were completed.

1873 Treasury Report:
Cape Mendocino, sea-coast of California.—There is a settlement of the ground, caused by an earthquake, in the ravine to the north of the tower, the limits of which are well defined by a continuous crack in the earth. The south line of this crack passes through one end of the cement retaining-wall and within 15 feet of the tower; this has been filled up with concrete and well rammed. Granite posts were cut and sent there to be planted at the corners of the reservation to mark its limits. A suit, Buhne vs. Chism, to eject the lighthouse keepers at this station—a suit involving the title to the site—was decided on the 10th of October in favor of the United States.

San Francisco Call
, June 29, 1896:
The Schooners Mary Buhne and Jennie Thelin Collide
Both Are Badly Damaged
Eureka, Cal, June 28While in the vicinity of Cape Mendocino, the schooner Mary Buhne, returned empty from a southern trip last night, collided with the Jennie Thelin, bound for San Francsico, heavily loaded with lumber. The Thelin was struck amidships and immediately filled with water. The lumber prevented it from sinking. Both vessels were badly damaged. The Buhne's bow was injured, and the Thelin's side caved in. The tug Ranger towed them into port this afternoon.

The crew of the Buhne claim that no side lights were exposed to view on the Thelin, and it was not seen until only a few yards away.
1901 Treasury Report:
Cape Mendocino, seacoast of California.—The roadway was repaired. The act of June 6, 1900, appropriated $1,000 for the construction of a masonry oil house at this station. A stone oil house was built. The temporary structure now occupied by one of the keepers is almost uninhabitable, on account of its bad and unsanitary condition; it is also unsafe, as its foundations are so poor that it has settled several times during the last year, and although each time it has been raised and temporarily repaired, it has subsequently settled. As it was originally built for an oil house and not a dwelling, no permanent improvement can be attempted.

The following recommendation, made in the Board's last five annual reports, is renewed:

The plans approved by the Board contemplated the construction of an additional cottage for the assistant keeper. It is estimated that a proper structure tan be erected for $5,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of that amount be made therefor.

San Francisco Call
, August 24, 1902:
Through School of Sharks
The steamship George W. Elder arrived yesterday from Portland. Captain Randall reports that off Cape Mendocino he ran through a large school of sharks.

Los Angeles Herald
, July 27, 1905:
Norwegian Ship Tricolor Still Ashore at Cape Mendocino
By Associated Press
EUREKA, Cal., July 26With a fair chance of holding together many days yet, despite the fact that breakers are pounding over her, the Norwegian steamer Tricolor, which went ashore in the fog at Cape Mendocino at 3 o'clock yesterday morning, still lies hard and fast on the rocks.

Captain Wold states that the steamer was fully insured. He is very bitter in his comments of the lightship stationed on the Mendocino coast, to whose failure to give good service he attributes the loss of his vessel. He stated this morning that the lightship was inactive when he passed her and that no sound was heard from her until 5:30 a. m., when she started blowing. This was after the steamer had gone ashore.

1905 Light-House Board Report:
Cape Mendocino, seacoast of California.—The following recommendation, made in the Board's last ten annual reports, is renewed, and the immediate need for it can not be too strongly urged:

The temporary structure now occupied by one of the keepers is almost uninhabitable on account of its bad and unsanitary condition; it is also unsafe, as its foundations are so poor that it has settled several times, and although each time it has been raised and temporarily repaired it has subsequently settled again. As it was originally built for an oilhouse and not a dwelling, no permanent improvement can be attempted. It is estimated that a proper structure can be erected for $5,500, and it is recommended that an appropriation of that amount be made therefor.
Illustration: Reconstructed Cape Mendocino Light at Shelter Cove, CA © Gerald C. Hill, from California & Hawaii Lighthouses Illustrated Map & Guide, coming in summer 2012.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beauty vs History at Yaquina Head

The Oregonian reports on a conflict that often breaks out over historical sites:

In this case, Ron Exeter, a well-meaning botanist at the Bureau of Land Management, wants to landscape with native plants around Yaquina Head Lighthouse, where the soil was killed by the acid wash used to remove the tower's toxic lead paint.

Long-time Yaqina Head volunteer George Collins is fighting BLM tooth and nail: "It was just plain grass and soil for years and years until this came along. There simply was nothing like that so it doesn't conform to the history." He objects to the utilitarian lighthouse being "made all frilly for visitors to stop by." According to the Oregonian, "state and federal agencies are working together to resolve the problems."

Here are excerpts from historic inspection reports (courtesy of the United States Lighthouse Society), which seem to support Mr. Collins's objections. Note the changes in acreage, soil, paths and garden size after 29 years. [All spelling sic; emphasis ours.]

From 1881:
Area of the entire site: 17.86 acres.
Character of surface soil: dark clayey loam.
Soil susceptibility: Grass grows well. Winds are too violent for shrubbery or trees.

Misc remarks: Wind at times sweeps across point of cape with great violence taking gravel stones from the cliffs 100' distant & hurling them against the dwelling with such force as to break the glass in the windows.

Paths and walks: Gravel walk around dwelling & from dwelling to tower.
Area inclosed: A board fence runs across point of cape from S shore to N shore, enclosing entire site. Keeper's dwelling is also enclosed by a neat picket fence.
Area of garden: About 1 acre.
From  1910:
Area of the entire site: 19.35 acres.
Character of soil surrounding the lighthouse: Sand.

Soil susceptibility: Yes, can be protected by grass.
Paths and walks: Cement around dwellings to tower.
Area inclosed: 12.08 acres inclosed with wire fence.
Area of garden: About 1/4 acre.
Illustration: Yaquina Head Light © Gerald C. Hill,