More Money for Lighthouses

There still is federal money available for lighthouse preservation, but there should be more. There’s an effort now under way in Congress to make that happen, and it could use your support.

First, what’s out there: Under a law passed in the 1990s, a portion of the proceeds from scrapping Navy and Coast Guard ships in the “mothball fleet” is supposed to go to maritime preservation and education. After a first round of $650,000 in grants to 39 projects in 1998, the program went dormant as scrap metal prices tanked and environmental concerns added costs to the scrapping. But that’s improved, and recently $7 million was made available to restart the process.

The program is administered by the National Park Service, which will be using its administrative percent to restart its Maritime Heritage Program, itself a good thing. And NPS has decided to stretch that $7 million pot four years, to allow groups to develop requests and build some momentum. Each year will see the distribution of $1.7 million, by law divided equally between education (grants up to $50,000) and preservation (grants of $50,000 to $200,000). The tight deadline for this year has passed, but NPS promises more lead time in getting next year’s round going.

The grants require a match, and are paid as reimbursements. Another catch — under new laws, everyone receiving federal money has to do so through the federal website, and registration takes a little time. Getting started now would be a good idea. Check the NPS Maritime Heritage Program web page for details.

Next, what’s needed: In short, restoration of Congress’s original intent. It passed a law that provided 25% of the scrapping proceeds for this program and 25% for the nation’s maritime academies, but in 2010 the U.S. Maritime Administration, which oversees the National Defense Reserve Fleet, won an amendment giving it sole discretion over the money. MARAD decided to keep it all for the academies and its own ship preservation projects (surprise, surprise). A tug of war ensued, and in stages supporters got funding back to half of what it should be. Instead of 25%, it’s 12.5%  We lost millions.

The National Maritime Alliance is spearheading a drive to regain that lost ground. You can help. An amendment to the original act is in Congress, attached to the huge Defense Authorization Act that funds the military. The action right now is centered on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, which will report out the bill before everybody heads out to elections; the act probably will be passed quickly once the senators return.

Dr. Tim Runyan, a maritime studies professor at East Carolina University, is the Alliance’s point man on this. He’s asking groups and individuals to contact their home state senators and press for support on this. You can get information from Tim at

There is 16 years’ worth of pent-up demand for a small-by-federal-standards pot of money here, but this is funding the entire maritime community, not just lighthouses, needs. You can help with the legislative effort, and check into applying for your education prog or preservation project grants.

Money for Lighthouses

Need funding for a lighthouse project? For the first time, the lighthouse community itself is generating a grant program to help lighthouse groups across the country.

As part its 30th anniversary year, the United States Lighthouse Society is launching its own grant program, after growing its Preservation Fund enough to begin a competitive grants program. It will be a modest start, but USLHS is still working hard to grow the fund to allow bigger and better support.

The Society this fall will open the program to applicants for project funding up to $5,000. No match is required. Watch the website for application details.

The first grant will be used to repair ironwork around Block Island Southeast Lighthouse’s lantern. From left to right: Jeff Gales, USLHS; Maria Ryan, Senior Vice President, Retail at Land’s End; and Henry Gonzalez, USLHS Vice-President

While interest from the fund will allow only a few grants this year, the program already got a boost from a new partnership between USLHS and the Wisconsin-based clothing company Land’s End, which uses a lighthouse logo. On Aug. 7, National Lighthouse Day, Land’s End donated $30,000 (another nod to the 30th anniversary) and joined USLHS executive director Jeff and grant program manager Henry Gonzalez at the Block Island SE Lighthouse to award that lighthouse group the first $10,000 grant from the program.

While there are other lighthouse preservation funds out there the Florida Lighthouse Association is a shining example — this is the first nationwide one generated by funds from within the lighthouse community. That in itself is a significant milestone. The program is off to a good start, and USLHS is hoping for more donations and investment income to make it even better.

2014 Winners of Holland Award

Tim Harrison
Tim Harrison

Two new recipients of the Ross Holland award were announced September 17, 2014, at the Maritime Heritage Conference in Norfolk, Virginia. The award winners are Timothy Harrison and the U.S. Lighthouse Society.

Timothy Harrison is a Michigan native who adopted Maine as his home state – making lighthouses a natural lifelong calling – Timothy Harrison has been a major figure in the publication and preservation of Lighthouse Service history and lore, and of news within the lighthouse preservation community.

In 1992, he co-founded Lighthouse Digest magazine, following that a year later by opening the nationally known Lighthouse Depot gift store and mail order catalog, located in Wells, Maine. In 1994, Harrison launched the American Lighthouse Foundation and its adjunct Museum of Lighthouse History in Wells, later merging its collections into the Maine Lighthouse Museum where he serves as a board member.

Mentored by the late lighthouse preservation leader Ken Black, one of the first Holland Award honorees, Harrison also organized a national lighthouse education conference in New Bedford, Massachusetts, sponsored the Public Broadcasting System mini-series Legendary Lighthouses and other lighthouse documentaries, authored and co-authored a number of lighthouse books, founded the Friends of Little River Lighthouse and headed the group’s restoration of that lighthouse in Cutler, Maine.

Harrison retired from Lighthouse Depot in 2004 to spend more time on lighthouse research and writing and in 2007 ended his 13-year presidency of the American Lighthouse Foundation. He continues to be editor and publisher of Lighthouse Digest and, with the assistance of his wife, Kathleen Finnegan, who is the managing editor, maintains a Web site with information on thousands of lighthouses as well as an extensive archival collection of rare and many original historic lighthouse photographs and lighthouse related documents.

Harrison’s years of contributions have earned him awards from several nonprofit lighthouse groups, the United States Coast Guard’s Meritorious Public Service Award, and the rare designation from the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard as an Honorary Chief Petty Officer. The American Lighthouse Council is pleased to add to that list the nation’s top lighthouse community honor, the F. Ross Holland Jr. Award.

Jeff Gales received Holland Award on behalf of the United States Lighthouse Society
Jeff Gales (right) receives Holland Award from ALC President Don Terras on behalf of the United States Lighthouse Society

Envisioned and organized by lighthouse community leader Wayne Wheeler, the United States Lighthouse Society has played a seminal role in promoting lighthouse lore and awareness. As the largest of any of the national lighthouse groups during all the early decades of the lighthouse history and preservation community, USLHS has made a wide range of pioneering contributions to the cause of lighthouse heritage in this country.

Chief among its many contributions is the premier journal of lighthouse lore, history and technology, The Keeper’s Log. Evolving over time into a highly professional quarterly publication with original researched articles in a number of categories including American and international lighthouses, news items, reprints from U.S. Lighthouse Service Bulletin items and other topics, the Log has been a touchstone publication for the lighthouse community for decades. The Society also maintains an extensive research library and databases, and to mark its 30th anniversary has embarked on an extensive redesign of its Web site to provide in-depth online resources for the use of lighthouse historians and groups nationwide.

USLHS also has restored a lightship and two lighthouses, and will continue that program while also launching a pioneering preservation grant program, the first lighthouse preservation funding program generated within the lighthouse community itself for lighthouse projects. The program is expected to grow as the USLHS Preservation Fund continues to grow over time. The Society’s popular Lighthouse Passport Program also supports individual lighthouse organizations across the country.

USLHS also pioneered in the development of high-quality lighthouse tours both in the United States and abroad, and hosted a national event on Newport, Rhode Island for the bicentennial of the Lighthouse Service in 1989. The Society was linked by the U.S. Postal Service to the first of its series of stamp issues depicting lighthouses, and in 2009 First Lady Laura Bush presented USLHS and its Chesapeake Chapter the Preserve America Steward Award during its 25th anniversary year. The organization has been active in the development of national lighthouse preservation legislation and in lighthouse community efforts, as well as providing research assistance and advice to lighthouse groups and individuals.

Originally located in San Francisco, the Society now is headquartered at Point No Point Lighthouse in the State of Washington. Wheeler continues as president, with Jeff Gales serving as executive director. The American Lighthouse Council is proud to honor the United States Lighthouse Society.

Established by the American Lighthouse Council to recognize truly exceptional contributions by an individual or group, the Holland Award is the major national honor bestowed by the lighthouse preservation community. It is named for Francis Ross Holland, Jr., who received the initial Distinguished Service Award that was to henceforth carry his name. Past winners include the American Lighthouse Foundation and the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association.


IALA Heritage Forum Meeting Planned

IALA logo


Bob McIntosh with the Northern Lighthouse Board in Scotland recently sent out the following communication regarding the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA-AISM):

After a successful IALA Conference in La Coruna, Spain the new working period of the IALA Committees will begin. The 1st session of the IALA Aids to Navigation Engineering and Sustainability (ENG) Committee (ENG1) will be held from 17th – 21st  November 2014 at IALA’s offices, which are at 10 rue des Gaudines, 78100 Saint Germain en Laye, France.

For more information visit the IALA-AISM web site

Vincent Guigueno, one of the organizers, added that the Heritage Forum Discussion would include:

A seminar about LH archives will be held at the French National Archives (with a scottish touch)

Among other subjects, Cordouan (the english version of and the LH historical digital library of the Ecole des Ponts ( with links to non french material, for instance Bell Rock

I am looking forward to exchanging ideas with you to enhance LH heritage and culture

American Lighthouse Council Elects New Officers


ALC logo vertical lores At the recent National Maritime Heritage Conference in Norfolk, Virginia, the American Lighthouse Council (ALC) elected new officers:


Candace Clifford, Lighthouse Historian, Alexandria, Virginia

Michael Vogel, Buffalo Lighthouse Association, Buffalo, New York

1st Vice President

Rick Cain, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, St. Augustine, Florida

2nd Vice President

Lee Radzak, Split Rock Lighthouse, Two Harbors, Minnesota


Jon Hill, Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum, Pensacola, Florida


Jeff Gales, U.S. Lighthouse Society, Hansville, Washington