Ireland is the world's 20th largest island, measuring 488 kilometers (303 miles) long and 225 kilometers (140 miles) at its widest; if you could unravel its coastline it would stretch more than 3,219 kilometers (2,000 miles). We are fortunate to have some of the most beautiful coastal regions to be seen anywhere in the world. However, what is so attractive to native and visitor alike can be a major hazard to the seafarer.
Henry Jenkins, the youngest of four keepers at Tillamook Rock Light Station, came abruptly awake in his bed, arms flailIng, gasping for air. He was lying almost completely submerged in a pool of icy water. Gagging and choking, he fought to breathe. All he could think was that the station had finally been swept from the rock and into the sea. The water around him receded and he found that he was wedged into the tiny bedroom closet with his legs entangled in the rungs of a chair The roar of the storm was thunderous.
The Netherlands, a.k.a. Holland, is a small country, hardly bigger than our state of Maryland, but its significance in world affairs counters its diminutive size. Two of the globe's wealthiest and busiest ports bustle with activity at Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and some of the largest marine engineering projects on the planet protect the Dutch coast in the form of dikes, including the massive sea barrier in the Schelde Estuary at Zeeland. Netherlands is rich in maritime history too.
We were sitting around on the grass-upholstered rocks of Menagerie Island, sailors from the lighthouse tender Marigold and I, talking of this and that, and watching the ship drifting about in Siskiwit Bay. The sailors were waiting for a bo'sun's chair so that a man could be lowered from the top of the automatic light to make certain repairs.
March 1, 1850 was a damp, cold day in the District of Columbia. The clouds were darker gray than usual and because the sun did not appear. This was the inauguration day of Millard Fillmore as the thirteenth President of the United States. At the Department of the Treasury the fires were banked in the fireplaces in the ornate offices, the window drapes were drawn, and the doors were locked.
There were exceptions to standard governmental procedures in every step of preparing for the construction of the California and Oregon lighthouses. Following the signing of the three-partners contracts, no bond or security was immediately required of the partners. The contract was not to be advertised; this by direct order of the Secretary of the Treasury. The Secretary had asked John McGinnis to check the law concerning requirements that government contracts be publicly advertised. This request shocked McGinnis.
Mixed in with the standard lighthouse fuels used over the years were some very strange attempts to improve lighthouse illumination. This story will give the reader an insight into a few of the more exotic fuels and other unusual modes of illumination that were tried over the last 200 years. I think you will find these more than - A Bit Unusual.
The oldest operational lighthouse in Ireland and the British isles is at Hook Head. The tower, with additions and modifications, dates from the Norman times, 12th century, and is reputed to be built on the site where the monks of St. Dubhan established a fire beacon in the 5th century.
Strategically located near the entrance to Newport harbor, between the east and west passages of Narragansett Bay, sits Beavertail Point at the southern end of Conanicut Island. As colonial Newport became a major port through its part in the Triangle trade, Beavertail was recognized as the most advantageous site for a navigational beacon. The town of Jamestown maintained a watch house at the site (probably for security due to the shifting alliances among the British, French, Spanish and Indians) and before long a beacon was added as well.
My lighthouse Service employment started in 1927 at the age of 19. I was encouraged by my brother-in-law who was the cook on the Lightship San Francisco (LV 70), an old coal burner. He started his career as a fireman serving six weeks on board with two weeks shore leave. Although he knew nothing about cooking when he applied he learned in a hurry with the help of his wife (my sister) and the arm load of cook books he took aboard. He became an excellent cook.