What remains of America’s lighthouse history is now on the verge of being lost forever.
I’ve been preaching about it for years. Now, more than ever before, we are close to the point of no return.
People who lived, grew up and were stationed at lighthouses are passing away. Time cannot stop or change that. Many old photos and memories of life at the lighthouses may soon be lost forever.
What happens when there are not enough volunteers to visit with those people to record the memories and scan the images? They will be lost forever.
Many small lighthouse groups that have documented the history of their individual lighthouse or located and saved old photos have not shared them with us, something that is easy to do in this modern day of high quality scanners and e-mail. Sometimes, the historical records are kept in one person’s home. What happens if there were to be a fire, tornado or other natural disaster that would destroy these historical records? They will be lost forever.
A perfect example would be what happened with Hurricane Katrina. Naturally, the human tragedy is beyond comprehension. However, much of the historical documents and old photos in the collections of local libraries and historical societies in the areas struck by Hurricane Katrina have now been lost forever. But, life must continue.
We must now strive harder than ever to save, record, document and preserve our nation’s lighthouse history for future generations. This information must be shared with other historical organizations and it must be done now.
For example, after we use a historical photo or document for a story in Lighthouse Digest, we make a duplicate of each item and donate both to the American Lighthouse Foundation, which in turn, properly archives the documents and photographs at different locations.
The biggest problem we have in the United States today is that we are not teaching enough in-depth American history in our schools. If we did, we would live in a better country. If people have a better understanding of what made this country great, they will better understand and appreciate who we are and how we got there. They will then make good citizens. Remember, one can learn more about early American history by studying lighthouses than from any other single source.
If Lighthouse Digest cannot report and tell the stories because we keep losing the history through apathy, we are going to lose more than we can possibly imagine; we are going to lose our nation. It’s time for the lighthouse community to act.
We urge the historical societies and lighthouse groups across the world to make duplicates of old lighthouse documents and historical photographs and send us high-resolution copies of them. We can then tell the story to the general public, and then and only then can these items be saved for future generations. If nothing else, at least one image will then be saved somewhere, always.
Time is running out, but you can still make a difference.
That’s my opinion, and I welcome yours.
Editor & Publisher
Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630
E-Mail - Editor@LighthouseDigest.com
This story appeared in the
October 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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