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Old 12-31-2002, 08:27 AM
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Tamaroa Tamaroa is offline
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Default O' Great Light House Sage, AKA JeffL.

Hey, Jeff, you are well known in other circles for being an expert on light houses. Tell me something. Why does not the Fire Island Light House get any respect? I served there from early 70 to mid 71. As a result I love light houses, however, try to find something in all these mail order catalogues pertaining to Fire Island light built in 1858 (the second one which still stands), and it is impossible. There is little literature on the light or its keepers. After 20 years of searching for items, I found a plate and a small sculpture of it neither of which was accurate. My wife found a pillow with Fire Island Light on it with three other lights.

I just think Fire Island gets short shrift. Here on the east coast all you hear about is Hatteras, Barnegat, Montauk and perhaps Portland Head Light. I have not seen a lighthouse calendar yet that had Fire Island light in it.

Just curious, your thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2003, 08:16 AM
JeffL JeffL is offline
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Default Fire Island Lighthouse

Expert? Me? Not likely. I'm proud to be an expert on nothing!

However, I did some research into lighthouses, and posted some quizzes on another site, and I've visited several, but I'm no expert. YOU'RE the one who spent some time at a bed & breakfast lighthouse, for which my wife and I are envious.

Nonetheless, one of the sites I've bookmarked is: http://www.lhdepot.com/database/uniq....cfm?value=355

From that site:

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Name: Fire Island Light

Feedback to the database manager

Nearest Town or City:
West Islip, New York, United States

Location: Fire Island Inlet, Long Island.

Click to enlarge: 20Kb 60Kb
Related Photos
Photo: Kenneth Kochel

Managing Organization:
Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society

Telephone: 631-321-7028

Website: http://www.fireislandlighthouse.com
Email: programs@fireislandlighthouse.com

Contact Address Information:
Box 4640
Captree Island
New York, 11702-4601, United States

Notes:
In 1982 Fire Island Light was scheduled for demolition by the government. A local group of preservationists was successful in having the site transferred from the Coast Guard to the Fire Island National Seashore. The lighthouse was also designated a National Historic Landmark. The Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society successfully raised funds to restore the lighthouse and relighted it on May 25, 1986. Since 1982 the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society has worked to preserve the heritage of Fire Island and Long Island, with the Fire Island Lighthouse being an integral part of the heritage.

This light is operational.

Other Buildings?
1859 two-story keeper's house, boathouse.

Date Established: 1827

Date Present Tower Built: 1858

Date Deactivated: 1974-1986

Date Automated: 1986

Optics: 1856: First order Fresnel lens, now DCB-224. The Fresnel lens is on display in the Visitor Center at Fire Island Light.

Current Use: Active aid to navigation, museum.

Open To Public? Yes

Museum?
A guided tour lasts approximately one and half hours and includes a visit to the Lighthouse museum, and a walk up the 192 steps to the top of the lighthouse tower. Park rangers and volunteers lead the tours. Reservations are necessary for tower tours; call 516-321-7028. The lighthouse is closed Mondays and Tuesdays all year. Hours: July 1st to Labor Day: Wednesday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. April 1st to June 30th and September to December 24th: Tours on weekends only. Closed January, February and March.

Directions:
From the north, take the Long Isand Expressway or Northern State Parkway to Sagktikos Parkway South. From the south use Southern State Parkway. Then take the Robert Moses Causeway South over the bridge to the end. Go left at the beach tower to parking field #5. Follow the signs to the lighthouse.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Keepers: Eliphalet Smith (c. 1830); Felix Dominy (c. 1835-1840); Selah Strong (c. 6/12/1850); Benjamin Smith (4/29/1853 - 4/12/1861); C. W. Fordham (4/12/1861 - 1/19/1864); David L. Baldwin (1/29/1864 - 3/29/1865); Samuel L. Hulse (5/26/1865 - 5/4/1869); Jeremy S. Wicks (5/4/1869 - 8/19/1870); Henry French (8/28/1870-?); Warren F. Clock (c. 1871-1873); Seth R. Hubbard (c. 1875 - 1877); George Elbert Abrams (2nd assistant, then 1st assistant 1883-?); Walter Abrams (c. 1880s); George W. Ruland (c. 1885); Ezra S. Mott (7/23/1888 - c.1895); William F. Aichele (1909-1916); George J. Thomas (c. 1918); Isaac Karlin (c. 1923-1928); Adrien Joseph Boisvert (1934 - 1941); Roy Wood (Coast Guard, 1940-1942); Shelbert Payne (Coast Guard, c. 1945-1946); Robert Hodges (Coast Guard, 3/17/1947 - 10/8/1958); Gottfried Mahler (Coast Guard, 1948-1954); Arnie Leiter (Coast Guard, 3/14/57 - 12/14/59); Duane Butler (Coast Guard, 1965-1969); Rockwell Norris (Coast Guard, c. late 1960s or early 1970s)

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

I don't think it's getting short shrift. It's got a dedicated preservation society, it's on a national seashore (which should encourage and guarantee its preservation), and it's a national historic landmark. Plus - the light is an operational aid to navigation.

The VAST majority of lighthouses have fallen into ruin through neglect and vandalism, but it seems that Fire Island will keep going. Some deserted Great Lakes lights are in such poor condition that they are too dangerous to investigate and are not restorable.

Bill, if you can supply any additional information to the site regarding keepers, years, etc., it would increase the file of knowledge about this light, and you would have a feeling of self-satisfaction about taking part in preserving its history. (I suspect you may have already done this.) Was Rockwell Norris the keeper when you served on the light?

Why it doesn't appear on any of the calendars you've seen is anyone's guess. It has a distinctive paint job (like the famous White Shoals Light in Lake Michigan, which is red and white candy striped), and it appears to be readily accessable to the public.
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Old 01-01-2003, 08:33 AM
JeffL JeffL is offline
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Bill, you at least had some dirt to play in at Fire Island. Coasties know about lighthouses, but for anyone else who's interested, here's a copyrighted photo of Lansing Shoal Light, in Northern Lake Michigan. No dirt, no grass, no trees, no sand, and maybe you could see land off in the distance, with lights in town twinkling at night. Just water for miles around for the crew of four or five men, for weeks at a time, hearing the generators going 24/7, and then there was the damned foghorn. And hoping that the boat making the log run can get out to you with food and rotating shipmates without the weather creating problems.

But some guys loved the duty!

(I used "men" and "guys" not as sexist terms. I'm unaware of any women serving at isolated lights unless they accompanied their husbands.)
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Old 01-01-2003, 09:48 AM
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Tamaroa Tamaroa is offline
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Default No Keeper

Jeff,

There was no keeper there in 70-71. Basically the duties were shared between Fire Island Lifeboat Station (electrically) and us,
construction and maintenance. We had the generators and had to man them in the event of a storm outage. I was a DC and had to stand the duty one day out of three and one weekend out of three to be there in the event of a power outage. If you wanted to see something scary, you should have seen the transfer switch,(I use that term loosely). It was a huge knife blade and when we ran on generator, we would grasp the knife switch while wearing rubber gloves and rubber boots and swing it up in an arc to make contact with the emergency side. What a crash, bang and surge of power there was. Yikes!!! It 's so much easier with today's truly autimated switches.

It was great duty though. I figure it was payback for the 3rd District Maintenance and Repair team I was on which was actually worse duty than the Tam if you can imagine that. The beach was great, although the winters were pretty bad. We got nervous when a nor'easter tore through the dunes just a couple hundred yards from the light. I gave a bunch of slides to the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation society and yes I am a member. They have a photo of Edwin that I gave them. Edwin was the last mascot the station had before it was decommed. He was a terrific German Shepard. By the way the photo in my first post, I took when I was there. Can you believe that photo was shot with one of those old instamatics?

The funny thing was that the lighthouse was not our primary duty. Our official name was FIRE ISLAND RADIO ANNEX. We had a 300 foot radio tower and several smaller ones that we maintained as well as the light, so there were a lot of ET's there as well.

All in all, I remember that light house quite fondly. The keepers cottage was renovated by me and used by senior personnel who had families. It was divided up into two apartments.

I just get so aggravated because commercially speaking at least Fire Island Light is at the bottom of the list. I once purchased a light house sweat shirt that had 33 light houses on it. Guess which one was missing? I almost returned it, I was so mad.


Regards,

Bill
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Old 01-01-2003, 11:41 AM
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Ah, yes. Those old Kodak Instamatics. I took some pics from a CG helo I snatched a ride on when the EAGLE and the ROCKAWAY visited San Diego in 1965. Little did I know how important those amateurish photos would be to former crewmembers who made that trip on the ROCK .

I never did take any pictures of the stations where I served or of the boats I was on. Hindsight's 20-20, huh?

And all those old rosters I threw away....What I'd give now....

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Old 01-01-2003, 02:46 PM
JeffL JeffL is offline
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For comparison, a photo of the aforementioned White Shoals Lighthouse is attached.

Surrounded by miles and miles of water. Lonely, but not as bad as some others.
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Old 01-20-2003, 08:37 PM
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Jeff, thanks for the picture of White Shoals..Floyd painted that candy stripe and last I heard the Mich lighthouse society was still taking their annual trip out there. One day off once in awhile if the weather permitted...
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:38 PM
Viking1 Viking1 is offline
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I did one week temporary duty in 1963 on the New London (CT) Ledge LH and there wasn't a lot of walk around room.
While in New London, I was aboard the WPB 95316 (later named the CGC Cape Fox) from 1963 and 1964, and every two weeks we did logistics and personnel change work for Faulkner Light and Plumb Island Light.
Thus my experience with the Lighthouses.

Bob
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