Taking my cue from the folks who offer historic presentations at Chicamacomico Life Saving Station on Hatteras Island, I asked the teachers how many of them had studied the Pony Express in school. Of course, all twenty had. Then I asked how many had studied the USLSS. Only two or three had even heard of this important service!
Here are a few facts:
- The Pony Express employed 183 young men (most of them teenagers), and lasted for just over 18 months.
- The US Life Saving Service employed thousands of men in 279 stations (on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and on the Great Lakes).
- The USLSS continued for forty-four years (1871-1915)
- The life savers responded to 28,121 shipwrecks, offering rescue to 178,741 men, women, and children.
- The life savers risked their lives in the most severe conditions (hurricanes, raging seas, and frigid temperatures) and spent many trying times (pulling a 1000 pound beach cart many miles through soft sand and rising sea water) to rescue 177,286 people (over 99% success rate), without regard to victims' nationality, language, color, or politics.
If you are a teacher, or simply an interested citizen, please take some time to do some research on the Life Saving Service. It is time to remember again the amazing dedication of these brave men, and the valiant service they performed during harsh and unforgiving weather to save the lives of thousands of mariners on ships that wrecked along our coasts.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the wreck of the Victoria S, and Ocracoke's first automobile accident. You can read it here.