The Silence of Sambro Island Lighthouse is Golden?
The Canadian Coast Guard has silenced the Foghorn at Sambro Island Lighthouse which has alarmed or blasted the Mainland South Heritage Society into action. Leslie Harnish, the president of the Society, wants the “coast guard to put the foghorn back on” claiming the Foghorn has been blowing since the early 1800s(1).
Bev Cleveland, a Coast guard spokeswoman, claims mariners were consulted to determine that the Foghorn is not needed and a Notice to mariners will be published. Afterwards, mariners can respond in writing if they oppose the silent foghorn.
Perry Rideout, who manages all federal property including Lighthouses, claims Sambro Island Lighthouse is not one of the 45 Nova Scotia lighthouses on the divestiture list waiting for sale. According to Mr. Rideout, all federal navigational aids (the beacon in the tower) are maintained, yet he doesn’t have the federal money to maintain the de-staffed obsolete Lighthouse tower. Is he hoping that Lighthouse Levitation will keep the Beacon shining above the water?
Leslie Harnish, who claims the shabby place is falling apart, is concerned with what the Coast Guard plans to do for the 250th celebration of the Lighthouse in 2008(2). Ironically, “It’s (Sambro Island Lighthouse) the oldest operating lighthouse in North America…” according to Leslie Harnish yet, Boston Harbor Lighthouse has been operational and manned for 284 years whereas Sambro Island Lighthouse has been operational for 247 years and manned for 229 years(3).
Did someone use the “New Math Satire by Tom Lehrer” to calculate this Bizarre Beacon Boast? And, this Lighthouse labyrinth is published by both American and Canadian Lighthouse sources.
Perhaps, our Canadian cousins mean Sambro Island Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse in Canada? From 1760 to 1772, the open oil Lamp fueled by fish oil would frequently go out and was left out if no ships were in sight.
In 1771, the sloop Granby from Boston, Massachusetts was shipwrecked with no survivors. Commodore Gambier noted “the fatal accident happened for want of a Light being properly kept in the Lighthouse.” He also reported that naval ships occasionally fired at the Lighthouse to force Light-keepers to show a Light! Wonder if the alarm clock of the Light-keepers came with a soldiers snooze song singing Cannon Balls bursting in air?
In 1772, Fountain oil lamps with flues for containing the smoke were installed to minimize blackening the Lantern glass which dimmed or obscured the Light. We can safely say Sambro Island Lighthouse was not fully operational for the first 12 years! Subtract another 12 years of irregular operation leaves 235 years of operation.After reading this, some critics may claim they meant Sambro Island Lighthouse is the oldest continuous operating Lighthouse in North America. Adding “continuous(4)” to the sources after this post is a shallow distinction and for the Guinness Book of World Records, the Lighthouse of the Hub (Boston Harbor) is the oldest operating Lighthouse in North America.
Sambro Island Lighthouse is closed to the public.
For a Map location, please visit the Google Map of Sambro Island Lighthouse.
(1) Cannons provided the Fog signals until the 1870s when a steam-powered fog whistle was installed.
(2) On October 2, 1758, the General Assembly of Nova Scotia passed an Act to establish a Lighthouse on Sambro Island. A temporary Light was lit until the 60-foot high stone Lighthouse was built in 1759 and Sambro Island Lighthouse was First Lit in 1760 exhibiting a Fixed White Light 115-feet above sea level to guide navigation entering Halifax Harbour.
In 1906, the Tower height was extended another 22-feet and a 9-feet high First-order Fresnel dioptric lens was installed. The French lens was replaced by a 3-foot diameter DCB-36 Aerobeacon in 1966. Currently, Sambro Island Lighthouse exhibits a Flashing White Light every 5-seconds 140-feet above sea level to a visible range of 22 nautical miles.
Leslie Harnish does not specify which structures at the Light Station are shabby. Due to the efforts of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, the restoration of the stone Tower protected by wood sheathing and shingles was completed in December 1998. Since 1988, the obsolete support structures have been deteriorating.
(3) Boston Harbor Lighthouse — Sambro Island Lighthouse
|Sep 14, 1716||–||1760||(44)|
|Jun 13, 1776||60||1776||16|
|Dec 05, 1783||(7 -Dark)||1783||7|
(4) Is it necessary to split hairs to spin a yarn? For example, some historians (Old Salts?) claim that Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest continuous operating American Lighthouse which is also incorrect. On June 1, 1776, Patriots damaged the Lighthouse using cannons and the powerful British navy possessed the ineffective Lighthouse for most of the war. Sandy Hook Lighthouse holds the record as the longest continuous standing Lighthouse for 243 years.