Friday, July 20, 2012


The Ocracoke lighthouse is open again this summer at various times so visitors may step inside (climbing the spiral staircase is not permitted). Ed Johnson has been volunteering for this for several months. Lou Ann began volunteering again on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 3

Last year when I visited the lighthouse I saw the metal gate with the letters USLHE. I had no idea what the "E" stood for.

USLHE Gate at Ocracoke Lighthouse

Inside I  noticed a replica of a typical 100 gallon kerosene tank. On the side was embossed "USLH Establishment."

USLHE Kerosene Tank

The United States Light House Establishment, an agency of the Department of the Treasury, operated from 1791 to 1852 (the Ocracoke lighthouse was built in 1823). During most of that time Stephen Pleasonton oversaw the agency. Although Pleasonton was responsible for saving many important United States founding documents from destruction, he ran afoul of Congress for poor decisions regarding the Light House Establishment's funds and other matters. When he refused to adopt Augustin Fresnel's new and improved lenses Pleasonton was forced out by the creation of a new agency, the United States Lighthouse Board. This agency operated from 1852 to 1910.

In 1910 the United States Lighthouse Service was established, and the service moved from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Commerce. In 1939 the USLHS was merged with the United States Coast Guard, where it remains today.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Molly Lovejoy's 2012 Ocracoke School Valedictory Address. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous11:48 AM

    Why is mismanagement of funds in any government agency a big surprise. Graft is rampant. And all the current politicians talk about job creation -- what about eliminating waste and fraud. then all that money can be used to train and help the average guy that needs help--- money for free ferry rides to the island for example. What is the current census data on your county population, median income household size, typical market research stats??

  2. I never said that Pleasonton "mismanaged" government funds, and I certainly did not mean to imply that graft was involved. Although I don't know much about Stephen Pleasonton, what I have read indicates that he was simply miserly with government funds. He refused to spend money where it was needed.