Montauk Point Light Station
Montauk, L.I., NY
Your letter arrived today and was sure glad to hear from you. Have moved so many times perhaps your letters haven't caught up with me yet. I surely didn't receive them or I would of answered long before. But I have every reason to believe that I'll be here all winter and although the road is closed during a couple of the worst months, ought to be able to hear from you quite often.
We were not planning on spending Christams on "The Rock" that December, but our plan started to change real fast. The year was 1955. The lighthouse was St. George Reef, better known as "The Rock" to the men who served on this lighthouse. St. George Reef is located 6 miles off Point St. George in northern California, almost on the California and Oregon border. The nearest city is Crescent City, California, which is about 12 miles away.
My father died of a fever in the West Indies when I was but two, that was in 1774 and mother and I were living in Glasgow. A short while later she married a wealthy man named James Hogg, but I don't remember him and mother never talked about him. I don't know whether he died or they were divorced, rather the latter I think. Anyway, mother managed to provide for our welfare after a fashion and with a lot of church going which always gave her strength. She managed well enough to enroll me in the Royal High School, hoping that I would eventually become a minister in the Church of Scotland.
I bent and scooped a handful of sea water from a crevice. It was most foul tasting, but it did restore moisture to my mouth. I rose to speak and tell the men of the only plan that I had been able to formulate when someone (I think it was the smith's assistant, Mac Leash), called out, "A BOAT, BOAT!" I turned and sure enough t'was either a mirage or a miracle. I could discern a large boat making her way through the haze toward us. The timely visitor was the Bell Rock pilot, James Spink, who had come to deliver letters.
Since the Colonial period, one of the major waterways on the eastern seaboard has been the Delaware Bay and River. The Bay and River, separating New Jersey from Pennsylvania and Delaware, stretches from the mouth all the way to Philadelphia, Camden and Trenton. Prior to the completion of the Ene Canal in 1825, which elevated New York City to a major port, Philadelphia and Boston were the primary seaports of the colonies and our new nation. One of the twelve colonial lighthouses was situated at Cape Henlopen, on the south side of the entrance to the Bay.
Thousands of years ago Long Island Sound was a large oval lake, carved out by the last Ice Age. At some point in time, the easternmost wall of this large lake eroded or otherwise collapsed, allowing the ocean to ebb and flow throughout the sound. The wall from Long Island to Connecticut, running northeast, consists of Plum, Little Gull and Fisher Islands as well as Valient Rock and Race Rock reefs. The remainder of this "wall" is below water, mostly 40 to 83 feet below low water.
People often say that 'It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.' The squeaky wheel on the Isle of Guernsey in the year of 1846 was one Captain W. Sadler of the steam packet Sir Francis Drake. This tenacious mariner was adamant for the need of a lighthouse on the island of Guernsey and in his fervor proved a Royal thorn in the side of Trinity House, the organization charged with the responsibility of British lighthouses. Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands belonging to Great Britain but located close to France rather than near the English coast.
Where can you tour a manned lighthouse, see the tallest lighthouse on the continent, and visit, get close to, or sight 12 additional lighthouses, all in one day? No, it's not North Carolina's Outer Banks, nor is it Boston Harbor. You'll find this lighthouse lover's paradise in Finistere, which is located at the westernmost tip of the French province of Brittany. My wife, Chris, and I were in Brittany on a combined business and pleasure trip in February, and set a day aside to tour some of the region's houses.
For centuries lighthouses have stood alongside sea routes, but now they have become monuments to history and technology. One technological mechanism that has become part of history is a time ball. It was affixed to the roof of many lighthouses. A small number of them have survived, for example, at Greenwich (UK), Karlskrona (Sweden), Lyttleton (New Zealand), Norfolk (Virginia, USA) and Singapore. They are are all great tourist attractions.The time ball in Gdansk has joined this select company of magical places.
In May 1918, the United States government decided to set up an Air Mail Service. The U.S. Department of Commerce created an Aeronautics Branch and daytime only flights began. By the early 1920s the Department of Commerce decided that the best way to establish nighttime air routes across the country was through the use of lighted airway beacons. Each airway beacon consisted of a tower that supported a white rotating beacon searchlight with a 1,000- watt lamp and a 24-inch diameter mirror.