Selected Keeper's Log Articles

You can access a selection of articles from past issues of The Keeper's Log magazine here. Simply select from the sections below.

In 1861 Italy was finally unified and Tuscany became part of the Kingdom of Italy, ruled by King Emanuele II of Savoia. In 1863 the situation of the harbor-channel of Viareggio became of primary relevance again. There was still the problem of the sand shoals always moving; a sea storm was enough to close the entrance of the channel and of the harbor.

The most beautiful lighthouse in the world.
The Gulf of Gascony, from Cordouan to Biarritz, is a sea of contradictions; an enigma of a strife and struggle. As it stretches southward it suddenly acquires an extraordinary depth and becomes an abyss in which the waters are swallowed up. An ingenious naturalist has compared it to a gigantic funnel, which abruptly absorbs all that pours into it. The flood, escaping from it under an awful pressure, [mounts] to a height of which our seas afford no other example.” — Jules Michelet; French historian (1798 -1874)

The Columbia River, 1,210 miles in length, is the second longest river in America. Twice a day a huge volume of water running to the sea encounters an incoming tide at the mouth of the river. This phenomenon, coupled with the wind and currents from the northwest, causes heavy surf and a dangerous bar situation. John Meares sighted Cape Rogue, as it was initially called, on July 6, 1788. Captain Meares tried to find an entrance to escape the high seas he was experiencing.

A lone tower surrounded by water and rip rap, the lighthouse at New Point Comfort has weathered a constantly shifting shoreline as well as occupation by enemy troops in two wars. That the tower has survived for nearly two centuries is truly remarkable. The tenth oldest intact lighthouse in our nation, it was once part of an onshore station first lit in 1805.

The town of Cape Charles was a busy seaport in the 19th century. On May 18, 1826, Congress appropriated $40,000 to construct a lighthouse on Smith Island, just off Cape Charles, VA. This island marks the northern side of the entrance into Chesapeake Bay. The light station was named Cape Charles.

With the exception of the approaches to New Orleans, lighthouse construction along the Gulf Coast lagged behind other areas of the country and certainly didn’t keep pace with the increasing maritime trade in the area.

Block Island is situated twelve miles south of the mainland (Rhode Island) and about fifteen miles northeast of southern tip of Long Island. Block Island is roughly pear shaped on a north-south axis, with the "stem of the pear" consisting of a sandy spit (Sandy Point) and a submerged sand bar which extends over 1-1/2 miles to the north. Some 500 vessels have come to grief on this obstruction over the years.

Her vital statistics and historical facts can be neatly recorded, but she defies classification. She is a late 19th-century engineering wonder; a monument of art; an architectural form; and she speaks eloquently - if silently - for the spirit of liberty. She stands in New York Harbor but belongs to the whole nation. Her essence combines the tangible with the intangible. She is the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.

To assist vessels navigate the length of Long Island lighthouses were built at Montauk Point and Fire Island. However, this left a dark hole between the two stations, and in 1854 the Lighthouse Board successfully petitioned Congress to construct a station at Shinnecock, almost midway between the two. These three major seacost lights would ensure that the mariner always had at least one light in sight as he navigated along the south shore of Long Island.

Over the past century and a half, a slice of lighthouse history on the Staten Island waterfront, just across New York Harbor from lower Manhattan, has seen its fortunes rise and fall. Now, it may again be on the rise—and back in the service of lighthouses.

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