Maritime grants for lighthouses

It’s encouraging to see how many lighthouse projects benefited from the Maritime Heritage Grants program this year, even as the fight continues in Congress to restore full funding (see previous posts).

Of the 34 awards announced by the National Park Service and Maritime Administration recently, ┬áseven involved lighthouses. Here’s the list:

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum won $50,000 to help build an archaeological research and education center; while that’s not strictly lighthouse, it does benefit a very good lighthouse museum’s efforts to expand maritime knowledge through the marvelous shipwreck archaeology and conservation work Kathy Fleming, Rick Cain and the rest of the St. Augustine crew are doing.

The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath won $50,000 to build a simulated lantern room to house and interpret a lens in its collection.

The Mason County Historical Society in Michigan got a $52,335 grant to clean, preserve and display Fresnel lenses in its collection.

The Michigan SHPO got $123,000 for historic structures reports and a public education project centered on the state’s offshore lights.

The Minnesota Historical Society got $68,000 for a cultural landscape report at Split Rock Lighthouse.

The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities won a $50,000 grant to paint the outside of the Cape May Lighthouse.

The Town of North Hempstead, NY got $165,000 to take the first steps toward rehabbing the Stepping Stones Lighthouse in Long Island Sound not far from the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.

The folks at NPS have told us they’d like to see more lighthouse-related applications next time around, so keep that in mind!

Here at the Dire Straits Lighthouse, we didn’t win anything. We never do. We’d been hoping for some funding to replace the old pot-bellied stove we rely on when the ice is thick on the strait and not even the cockroaches are moving. It’s been spilling embers on the old wooden floor and, as usual, we’re expecting bad things to happen.

But if they do, it’s not as if we’re all that needed any more up here in Dire Straits. There hasn’t been any shipping to speak of since the beaver-pelt plant over at Moot Point shut down and threw all three of the region’s wage-earners out of work. Maybe the folks over at NPS heard about that, and just sort of wrote us off. Wouldn’t be the first time. Instead they’re throwing money at Keeper Lee over at Split Rock to fund something called a “cultural landscape,” whatever that is. Around this station, the only cultural landscape is an old dog-eared copy of Cap’n Billy’s Whiz-Bang.

Sorry we’re a little late reporting out this week-old news, but we have to row the station dory way over to the village at Goose Neck to pick up any mail. That’s a two-day row in a leaky boat, which probably also needs a grant because the Lighthouse Service wrote us off long ago, too. If you don’t hear from us in a couple of days, though, don’t worry — and don’t even think of calling the Coast Guard to check up on us. Those boys over at the Neck lost their compass so they’re not quite sure where we are anyway, and the Coast Guard wrote that station off a long time ago too.

It didn’t help that the last of the carrier pigeons died off just after bringing word of the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance conference down in Traverse City this mid-May. I’ll try to register for that online, but that’s hard too — I “borrowed” this old extra computer from the Forest Service, but I can’t find any instructions in all the old Lighthouse Service manuals we still have on the shelf. Ranger Rick over at the FS tower trained one of the geese to sort of help me out, but the dang thing keeps migrating and it takes forever to get anything typed.

Well, that’s all the woe from Dire Straits for now. I’ve got to go feed the station cow. She heard about our grant rejection, and now all I’m getting is curdled milk.

Keep your lights on.

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