Thursday, January 19, 2017


Over the years, I've collected a number of ads, images, and memorabilia that make me chuckle. Unpacking my lighthouse mug collection recently, reminded me of the many errors I've seen. I think the urge to use a lighthouse image--any lighthouse image--is sometimes overwhelming, even if it is the wrong one. Take a look at some of these humorous mistakes.

There's no lighthouse in California that looks like this! The Cape Hatteras misplacement is rampant. So is the St. Augustine one. See for yourself in the next few images.

Neah Bay, Washington? There's not a red-striped lighthouse or a black striped one there. Just Cape Flattery Light, a white tower (that needs a serious cleaning and paint job these days).

Biloxi Lighthouse? Nope.

Is this lighthouse in Bermuda? Absolutely not.

A friend brought back this magnet for me from Puerto Rico. I haven't been there, but I'm 99.999999% sure there's no lighthouse in PR that looks like Portland Head Lighthouse.

Cape Cod has many pretty lighthouses, but none of them look like this. Assateague Lighthouse in Virginia looks like this one, and it's many miles from Cape Cod.

I've never seen a Maine lighthouse like this one, but then I guess this is kind of a metaphor. I lived in Maine in the early 1970s and never found shells like these on the beaches either. And while I'm grousing, it should be Portland Head Light, not Headlight. Headlights are on cars.

I'm still searching for a NYC area lighthouse that looks like this one. I think someone in the PR dept. clipped a drawing of England's Eddystone Light and pasted it into this collage.

I know this is a cartoon, and that the shark is the big draw. But there's no lighthouse with red spiral stripes on Martha's Vineyard, except perhaps on someone's lawn or a sign for a gift shop.

Westport, Washington has its own pretty lighthouse at Grays Harbor. There's no reason to appropriate Sequim's New Dungeness Lighthouse.

Check out the lovely and original Florida Keys handbag with Maine's Cape Neddick "Nubble" lighthouse on it...or maybe that's Nobska Light in Massachusetts.

And speaking of Maine....a pink and white lighthouse? Maine has so many beautiful lighthouses. You'd think the artist would have chosen an authentic image.

I'll close with this old postcard showing a life-line drill at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. I love it, except that the lighthouse on the left is not Sandy Hook Light. Who did the research for this postcard?

I have scads more of these lighthouse-in-error images. I'm still collecting, so if you have any, I'd love to see them. It's kind of fun to pontificate once in a while. We lighthouse aficionados don't usually do that, so I'll ask forgiveness.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A 1927 Story from My Collection

I bought this old issue of The Mentor some years ago. It gives a nice glimpse at lighthouse in the 1920s.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Memories of Maine's Wood Island Lighthouse

Maine's Wood Island Lighthouse, though built offshore on a small island, was a popular one years ago due to its accessibility for recreational boaters and fishermen. The families who tended it were much-loved and remembered on holidays with gifts. Visitors frequented the lighthouse too. The old postcard above shows what the station looked like about 1900. The pointed, pyramidal structure was the bellhouse that housed the 1,315-pound fogbell. It was added to the light station in 1873 and had its own striking mechanism. The bell became famous after Keeper Thomas Orcutt taught his dog Sailor how to tug on the bell clapper and ring the bell. Sailor is pictured below. Later, in the late 1960s after electricity came to the island, the bell was replaced by a foghorn.Today, the bell is on display at Vines Landing on the mainland.

Photo courtesy of Judy Orcutt

There are many poignant, humorous, and tragic stories about life on Wood Island Light Station. Kraig Anderson of Lighthouse Friends, relates this one in his profile of the lighthouse--

Not all was idyllic on Wood Island during Keeper Orcutt’s tenure. Late in the afternoon of June 1, 1896, Howard Hobbs, a fisherman living in a shack on the opposite end of the island, arrived at the lighthouse and told Keeper Orcutt that he has just shot his landlord and neighbor, Frederick Milliken. Hobbs was delinquent in his rent, and when Milliken requested to speak with him, he showed up at Milliken’s place with a gun. Milliken attempted to ascertain whether the weapon was loaded, but Hobbs, who had been on the mainland drinking earlier that day, promptly fired a round into Milliken’s abdomen. Hobbs was immediately remorseful and tried to help Mrs. Milliken attend to her husband, but shortly after returning to the scene of the shooting with Keeper Orcutt, Mr. Milliken passed away. Hobbs retired to his shack, where he quickly penned a letter and then took his own life with a shot to his head. Due primarily to this event, Wood Island is considered by some to be haunted, and in 2005 the New England Ghost Project investigated the island for paranormal activity.    

Below are several stories and recollections of Wood Island lightkeeping featured in The Boston Globe in the 1920s. (Clipping below courtesy of Lighthouse Digest, February 1993)

Wood Island Light Station in recent years, courtesy of Bob Trapani, American Lighthouse Foundation. The Foundation has done a great deal of good work to restore the light station and provide public access to it.

For more information on the light station visit Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse.

Another great source of information is Jeremy D'Entremont's profile of Wood Island Lighthouse.