About Me

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For two summers, I worked as a tour guide at the Umpqua River Lighthouse in Oregon. This opportunity enabled me to learn more about that lighthouse than any of the others I've seen. Although I have personally visited and photographed over 300 lighthouses in the United States and three Provinces in Canada, the Umpqua River Lighthouse has special meaning for me. This is where I was inspired to write my book titled, "The Wickie."

Book Info.

I invite you to read my book, "THE WICKIE." Preview the book's cover and watch the trailer below.
(Wickie was a nickname used by the early lighthouse keepers at the Umpqua River Lighthouse in OR.)

This 1860's story about the lighthouse keepers and their families at the Umpqua River Lighthouse will warm your heart. Discover the challenges they met but never expected, and their determination to maintain navigational aid to mariners on the Oregon coast.

To order your signed copy of "The Wickie", send me an e-mail: awbates1955@gmail.com. The Book is $15 plus tax and shipping.

My book is also available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Use the Tabs below for links to these websites. At their website, click on books - In the Search area enter The Wickie.

26 November 2015

The Plymouth (Gurnet) Lighthouse and The Pilgrims' Connection

Would the Pilgrims have felt safer and more welcome to Plymouth with a lighthouse there to guide them? I think it's safe to say they and their leader, William Bradford, would have certainly appreciated a lighthouse to help guide them to shore. Instead, they landed at Plymouth Rock without a lighthouse and established the town of Plymouth in 1620. The Plymouth Lighthouse was not built until years later.

 Known to locals as "Gurnet Lighthouse," the Plymouth Lighthouse stands at the southern tip of a sandy peninsula known since the Pilgrim days as the Gurnet. (The word Gurnet derives from a fish of the same name and is plentiful along the Devonshire Coast of England.) 

Gurnet was also the site of the first "twin light" station in today's United States. John and Hannah Thomas owned the land where the Commonwealth of Massachusetts established the two lighthouses in 1768. Essentially it was a small wooden house with a lantern attached to either end of the roof. John, and later his widow, operated the station for several years, giving Hannah the distinction of being the country's first female light keeper.

Both wooden towers were destroyed by fire in 1801. They were temporarily replaced by a single beacon, while a second set of towers were built, 30-feet apart, in 1803. These towers, in turn, were superseded in 1842 with a pair of 34-foot pyramidal ones, used also as range lights to help mariners clear Browns Bank. In the 1920s, the Bureau of Lighthouses concluded its push to do away with twin-light stations. Therefore, Plymouth's northeast tower was then deactivated in 1924 and taken down. The southern light, pictured above, is the oldest wooden lighthouse in the U.S. Its fourth-order Fresnel lens flashing the light was automated in 1986 and since has operated on solar power. In December 1998, the U.S. Coast Guard relocated the lighthouse further back from the edge of the eroding sand dune.

At the time of my visit here in 2001 the lighthouse remained active. Due to the distance from my viewpoint to the location of the lighthouse, I used a 500mm lens with a 2X coupler in order to get this imperfect picture of this historical lighthouse.

19 November 2015

A Canadian Beauty - Fort Point Lighthouse

Built in 1855, the Fort Point Lighthouse is located near Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The original lighthouse consisted of the front half of this pictured structure, and its first light was provided by a series of lamps fueled by oil. Those lamps were later replaced and the light electrified in 1951. Keepers maintained the lighthouse until 1964 when it was automated. During their tenure, in addition to maintaining the light, keepers were responsible for sounding a hand cranked fog horn in response to vessel signals during fog and thick weather. Additions were made to the structure over the years to improve living quarters for the keeper. This very distinctive "hunchbacked" lighthouse marked Liverpool's inner harbor until the light was deactivated in 1989.

The town of Liverpool began caring for the lighthouse as early as 1970 and later took possession of it and the surrounding land. To preserve its history, the lighthouse and attached dwelling were restored and turned into a museum. The lighthouse is located in what is now known as Fort Point Lighthouse Park.

I visited this beautiful Canadian lighthouse in 2001.

12 November 2015

Lighthouse Terms

Throughout this blog and in my book, The Wickie, I used terms that relate to lighthouses. We all want to understand the meaning of words we read to enable us to enjoy the read without our mind stumbling for a definition. My purpose in this post is to define terms that some folks may have been uncertain of their meaning. Terms like: Lantern Room, Watch Room, Service Room, and Wickie. To help in this endeavor, the picture below of the Umpqua River Lighthouse identifies where the aforementioned rooms are located in the lighthouse. Click on the picture for an enlarged view to enhance reading the names.

 Lantern Room: Glassed-in housing at the top of a lighthouse tower containing the lamp and lens.

Watch Room: The room immediately below lantern room where some supplies and oil were temporarily kept and where the keeper prepared the lantern for the night, and after that stood watch. The clock mechanism or works used to rotate the lens was also kept there. 

Service Room: Next level below the watch room. Storage for tools, brushes, etc used to perform service and maintenance to the light, lens, and clock mechanism.

Wickie: A nickname given to the lighthouse keepers. The name was created from the task the keepers did of trimming wicks of the lamps. (After electric lamps replaced oil lamps, the  keepers no longer had to trim wicks, so the name has not been used for many years.)

05 November 2015

What's The Difference?

During the years I've posted this blog, I've used terms that some have revealed they do not fully understand their meaning. My hope is the following narrative and picture will help answer the title question for this post.

What's the difference between a Light Station and a Lighthouse?

Light Station refers to the complex containing the lighthouse tower and all the outbuildings, i.e. the keepers living quarters, fuel house, boathouse, fog-signaling building, etc.
The term lighthouse normally refers to the tower and lantern room.

The picture below of Tybee Island Light Station is a good example of a light station.

What's the difference between the nighttime and daytime signature of the lighthouse?

Nighttime signature is the light itself and the number of flashes it makes in a complete revolution in a specified amount of time. The color of the light is also part of the nighttime signature.

Daytime signature of the lighthouse is the unique color scheme and/or pattern that identifies a specific navigational aid during daylight hours. For example, the daytime signature for the Tybee Island Lighthouse is its black tower with a wide white band around the middle of tower.