Monday, July 5, 2021

A Heart-Warming Memory from Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse

 This piece of short fiction about the nineteenth century keepers on Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse was published in the U.S. Lighthouse Society's Keepers Log many years ago. It is based on true information gleaned from Edward Rowe Snow's books on lighthouses. I hope you enjoy it!

Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse in 1847, from the National Archives, courtesy of LighthouseFriends.

Photo of the light station in 1876 from the National Archives and courtesy of Lighthouse Friends. Click to enlarge so you can see the details. Note the kids. Imagine living here in childhood! And the wives--some of them didn't get off the station for years at a time. A hard life for sure. Also note the dog. It appears to be a Newfoundland, the perfect breed for a rock lighthouse with kids. Newfoundlands are quite large, excellent swimmers, and incredible rescue dogs. Many lighthouses had them. Lewis & Clark took one named Seaman on their great cross-country expedition. (Just a little woof-woof, arf-arf minutiae!)

Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse, courtesy of the Coast Guard Historian's office. The caption on the image reads 1892, but I am doubtful of that. It's an aerial photo--1892 is too early for that. Based on the tanks seen in the image, I think this is more like 1940-1950. Just sayin'!

An 1877 painting by Charles Edwards on the Maine Memory website.

Excerpt below, used with permission from Anna-Myrle Snow, the late widow of Edward Rowe Snow, Lighthouses of New England, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1945 and 1973.

For a well-researched history of Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse visit Lighthouse Friends. Don't neglect to look at the images and notes/comments. Kraig Anderson, of Lighthouse Friends, has actually been to this place. I have not! But I am still hopeful someone will get me out there. 

Below are Kraig Anderson's wonderful photos of Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse.

"The fog comes in on little cat feet," said Carl Sandburg. But then the loud foghorns fire up and the cats all scamper away!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Tender Lilac, A Piece of Lighthouse History

 Tenders were the workhorses of the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment of old. They took care of navigational aids, including lighthouses, fog signals, and buoys. They built these aids, maintained them, and took are of the people who lived at lighthouses. An excellent book about tenders was written in 2000 by Douglas Peterson, USCG Retired. Copies are still available on eBay and Amazon.

One surviving tender is the USLHST Lilac. Here's some info about it--

Happy 88th Birthday, LILAC!

To celebrate the anniversary of LILAC's launch on May 26, 1933, artist Aaron Asis and playwright Justin Rivers have presented our ship--and all of us--with a historic bouquet.



LILAC has been adorned with historic images covering her stack. Panels on the roof incorporate 88 photos 
from her long career as well as the U.S. Lighthouse Service emblems that once graced her bow.  These can be viewed from Hudson River Park's Pier 25 while the ship remains closed to the public. Signage there will remind you to remain socially distant as, we hope, this pandemic is nearing an end. We look forward to welcoming visitors aboard later this summer.

monologue inspired by LILAC's second captain, Charles L. Lewis, who commanded the ship during her transition--and his--from the Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard in 1939, reflects upon her spirit and his desire to save remnants of her beginnings.  He was commanded to throw away all emblems of the Lighthouse Service, but just couldn't bring himself to do it.  The bronze emblems have been passed down through his family ever since.  You can access the monologue by scanning a QR code on signage next to the ship when there in person, scan the one to the left, or go directly to the URL.

Thanks to Justin and Aaron, and to all the volunteers who were critical to making their ideas real, especially Angus McCamy.

U.S. Lighthouse Tender LILAC still sports the bronze lighthouses on her bow in this photo from the Andrew J. Davidson Collection, courtesy of his granddaughter Sallie Davidson Macy. Davidson was LILAC's first commanding officer.
Your generosity keeps us afloat!
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LILAC is berthed at Hudson River Park's Pier 25

Our mailing address is:

Lilac Preservation Project
80 White St
New York, NY 10013

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Girl Scouts' Video

 Last month I made some videos for Girl Scouts in Florida. Their council wanted them to learn about my work and be inspired to become writers and learn more about lighthouses. Check out their fun learning video. There are interviews with several people. My video appears about 3/4 through the film. Enjoy!

Click cursor over the yellow links below.

Cool Girl Scout Video

Here's a Girl Scout tour of Marblehead Lighthouse in Ohio. Click on the yellow name.

This video filmed at Hanois Lighthouse off the Island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands really grabbed my interest. I visited the lighthouse several summers ago. I can't imagine living there!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Minutia: A Little This & That

Happy New Year to all, and especially to those who love lighthouses!

I ask your indulgence and forgiveness that I have made no blog posts for months. A lot has and is happening in my office and on my desk. (Including a new novel!) From the stack of things on my research table, come the following snippets. Enjoy!

From the Custom House Museum in New London, Connecticut comes this lovely fan of postcards of local landmarks, including New London Harbor Lighthouse in the center. For more info about the museum email .

From "The Beacon" newsletter of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in California come this neat article about working in a lighthouse lantern. No author was given. The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Association can be reached at 805.927.3719.

This is an interesting article about a pandemic not too different than Covid-19. The Point Fermin Lighthouse Society carried this in their Summer 2020 newsletter, "To the Point." Contact the group at 310.241.0612.

Here is a fun poem by Mary Lou Fourtane at Point Fermin Lighthouse, California, sharing the disappointment of a pandemic year at the lighthouse. I think most of us can relate, especially if we volunteer at lighthouse.

Looking for something to get your sweetie for Valentine's Day?

As the chair of the Education Committee for the U.S. Lighthouse Society, I have begun reaching out to kids (of any age) with some fun inserts in the society's quarterly journal, "The Keepers Log." Here is some of my handiwork free for the taking. Print it out and hand it out, or share it with your favorite kid or teacher. Squirrel it away for a rainy/snowy day when you hear "I'm bored!" Please be respectful of authorship. If you wish to share "Lighthouse Fun4Kids" in your newsletter or other publication, do give me credit. The two stories below, written by me and my cohort on the Education Committee--Cheryl Shelton Roberts--already have bylines. We truly want to get kids interested in learning about lighthouses and growing up to be a lighthouse docent or preservationist. We are thankful to Rich Gales of the U.S. Lighthouse Society for his fun and clever designs on the stories pages.

Do you know a kid who loves to draw or paint or sculpt? I have a sweet little place on the U.S. Lighthouse Society website where kids' art can be displayed. I use first names only, to protect kids' identities. If you would like to send scanned images of kids' art, I accept it at

Go to to see more kids' art. And send me those scanned images!