Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Just-for-Fun Survey: Lighthouses 101

Are you an expert on lighthouses or just a little bit knowledgeable? Here's a fun quiz of ten questions to test your knowledge. Do the survey on a piece of paper. Then check the answers, below the picture postcard of Milwaukee Breakwater  Lighthouse, to see how you did. I provided some background info on the answers too.


1. In what state stands the oldest operational lighthouse tower?
2. The last civilian woman to serve as a lighthouse keeper in the United States was named...
3. Five Coast Guard lighthouse keepers were killed in a tsunmai in 1946 in what U.S. state?
4. In 1875 the U.S. Lighthouse Board began experimenting with kerosene as a lamp fuel at what lighthouse?
5. The following lighthouse site in the United State never had twin lights:
6. Who was the last Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Lighthouses?
7. How many light towers have stood watch on the Eddystone Rocks in the English Channel?
8. Which of these inland states has at least one lighted lighthouse?
9. Who wrote the novel "To The Lighthouse?"
10. How many red stripes are there on East Quoddy Lighthouse?

1. New Jersey--The oldest standing, operational lighthouse in the United States is the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, built in 1764 and still going strong. Yes, there a couple of sites that had lighthouses before 1764 but the towers are gone or replaced. Sandy Hook is an original!

2. Fanny Salter--She took over the keeper's job at Turkey Point Lighthouse in Maryland in 1924 after the death of her husband. He had been the keeper, employed by the U.S. Bureau of Lighthouses. Fanny served until 1948. Because she was a woman, she could not join the Coast Guard after it took over care of lighthouses in 1939. Fanny was a civilian employee of the Coast Guard. It wasn't until the 1980s that the Coast Guard allowed women to work at lighthouses.

3. Alaska--The devastating 1946 tsunami hit Scotch Cap Lighthouse in the Aleutian Islands. It was night time and all but one of the five lightkeepers was asleep when the wave inundated the lighthouse. All five men all drowned. The tragedy led to the establishment of the Pacific Tsunami Warning System. The Coast Guard buoy tender Anthony Petit is named for the Officer-in-Charge at Scotch Cap Lighthouse that night.

4. Robbins Reef Lighthouse--This lighthouse was close to the depot at Staten Island, so it was easy to conduct the kerosene experiment at Robbins Reef. But the lighthouse was remote too--in the middle of the harbor--so if anything went wrong, such as an explosion or fire, it would not damage other buildings. Nothing went wrong, and kerosene became a cheap source of fuel for lighthouses.

5. Nauset Beach, Cape Cod never had twin lights, but it did have triple lights. They were called the Three Sisters of Nauset. In the 1920s one of the twins at Chatham, Cape Cod was moved to Nauset Beach. It still stands on the beach wearing a red and white daymark. The triple lights are preserved in a wooded area behind Nauset Beach Light.

6. Harold D. King was the last Commissioner of Lighthouses. George Putnam was the first. The commissioners managed the nation's lighthouses from 1910 until 1939 when the Coast Guard took control. Frederick Edgecomb was a lighthouse district manager on the Pacific Coast.

7. Four light towers have stood on the Eddystone Rocks. The first was built by Henry Winstanley and lighted in 1698. It was knocked down in a storm in 1703. The second lighthouse was built by John Rudyard and was lighted in 1709. It burned down in 1755. The third tower was built by John Smeaton and lighted in 1759. It was well-constructed and stood over a century. In 1877 erosion of the foundation made the tower unstable. It was replaced in 1882 by the current Eddystone Lighthouse, built by James Douglas. Smeaton's tower was replicated on shore at Hoe as a memorial to his success as a civil engineer.

8. There are lighthouses in all three inland states. In fact, there are many inland lighthouses in the world. Lakes and rivers have them. Some are private lights, some are faux lights built for decoration, and a few are official Coast Guard lighthouses.

9. Virginia Woolf wrote To the Lighthouse. It is considered her most famous novel and is read in many English classes and literature courses. Celia Thaxter was a lightkeeper's daughter from New Hampshire who grew up to be a poet and writer. Eugenia Price wrote a trilogy of novels about St. Simons Island, Georgia, and one of her novels was called Lighthouse.

10. The mystery of the stripes! East Quoddy Lighthouse is in New Brunswick, Canada. It is a square truncated tower painted white and daymarked with a red cross pattern. It has one horizontal red stripe and two vertical red stripes, for a total of three. Don't confuse it with West Quoddy Lighthouse in Maine, which has eight horizontal red stripes.

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