Monday, September 24, 2012

More About Lighthouse Keepers

Because individuals today generally have little idea of what the US government required of lighthouse keepers I am reproducing here two paragraphs from the 1874 article "The Light-Houses of the United States" by Charles Nordhoff:

"It would be tedious, and take more space than we have to spare, to give even a bald list of all the tools and materials required in a first-class light-house. A glance over the index of the volume of directions shows that it contains instructions for cleaning, placing, removing, and preserving the lamp chimneys; for cleaning the lamps; for keeping the lantern free from ice and snow; for preserving the whiting, rouge powder,etc.; for using two or three dozen tools; for preserving and economically using the oil, filling the lamp, using the damper; for precautions against fire; 'how to trim the wicks;' and for dozens of other details of the light-keeper's daily duties.

"The keeper is required to enter in a journal (daily) all events of importance occurring in and near his tower, and also to keep a table of the expenditure of oil and other stores. Besides the officer who is district light-house inspector, and who may make his examinations at any time, there are experts called 'lampists,' who pass from light to light, making needed repairs, and also taking care that the machinery of the light is in order, and that it is properly attended to by the keeper."

Nordhoff makes no mention of painting the lighthouse, a task normally done by the keeper and his assistants, and maintaining the keeper's quarters and the grounds.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:


  1. Anonymous10:19 AM

    With your interest in history & lighthouses, you may enjoy a story I googled at--a lighthouse an actor & a proposal.

  2. Wash the dishes and make the bed.