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Title: Lightships and Lighthouses
Author: Talbot, Frederick A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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LIGHTSHIPS AND LIGHTHOUSES

[Illustration:

            _By permission of Messrs. Siemens Bros. & Co., Ltd._

THE 43,000,000 CANDLE-POWER BEAMS THROWN FROM THE HELIGOLAND LIGHTHOUSE.

Being projected from a height of 272 feet above the sea, the beacon has
a range of 23 miles, and on a clear night the rays are seen from Büsun,
35 miles away.

            _Frontispiece._
]



  CONQUESTS OF SCIENCE


  LIGHTSHIPS AND
  LIGHTHOUSES

  BY
  FREDERICK A. TALBOT

  AUTHOR OF
  “MOVING PICTURES,” “RAILWAY CONQUEST OF THE WORLD,” “THE STEAMSHIP
  CONQUEST OF THE WORLD,” ETC.

  _ILLUSTRATED_

  PHILADELPHIA: J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
  LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
  1913



_Printed in England._



PREFACE


Romances innumerable have been woven around the flaming guardians of
the coast, but it is doubtful whether any purely imaginative work is
so fascinating and absorbing as the plain unvarnished narrative of how
some famous lightship or lighthouse has been brought into existence.
And the story of construction is equalled in every way by that relating
to the operation and maintenance of the light, against all odds, for
the guidance of those who have business upon the ocean.

This volume is not a history of lightships and lighthouses; neither
is it a technical treatise. Rather my object has been to relate how
the difficulties, peculiar and prodigious, have been overcome by the
builders in their efforts to mark some terrible danger-spots, both on
the mainland and isolated sea-rocks.

While the lines of the lightship and lighthouse are familiar to all,
popular knowledge concerning the internal apparatus of the building or
ship is somewhat hazy. Therefore I have explained, with technicalities
simplified as much as possible, the equipment of the tower and vessel,
and the methods whereby both visual and audible warnings are given. The
very latest developments in this field of engineering and science are
incorporated, so as to render the subject as comprehensive as possible
within the limits of a single volume.

In the compilation of this book I have received the heartiest
assistance from those who are prominently associated with the work of
providing adequate aids to navigation, and am particularly indebted
to the engineers to the Commissioners of Northern Lights, Messrs.
D. and C. Stevenson; Lieutenant-Colonel William P. Anderson, the
Engineer-in-Chief to the Lighthouse Department of the Canadian
Government; the various officials of the Lighthouse Board of the
United States of America; the Engineer-in-Chief to the French Service
des Phares; the lighthouse authorities of New South Wales and New
Zealand; Mr. Gustaf Dalén and his assistants; Messrs. Chance Brothers
and Company, Limited, of Birmingham; Messrs. Edmondsons, Limited, of
Dublin; Samuel Strain, Esq., the Director of the Lighthouse Literature
Mission, Belfast; the _Scientific American_, and the _Syren and
Shipping_, etc.

            FREDERICK A. TALBOT.

  _June, 1913._



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

      I. THE ORIGIN OF THE LIGHTHOUSE                                  1

     II. BUILDING A LIGHTHOUSE                                        11

    III. THE LIGHT AND ILLUMINANTS                                    28

     IV. FOG-SIGNALS                                                  57

      V. THE EDDYSTONE LIGHTHOUSE                                     72

     VI. SOME FAMOUS LIGHTS OF ENGLAND                                81

    VII. THE BELL ROCK AND SKERRYVORE LIGHTS                          96

   VIII. THE LONELY LIGHTS OF SCOTLAND                               108

     IX. THE FASTNET, THE OUTPOST OF EUROPE                          121

      X. LIGHTHOUSES BUILT ON SAND                                   132

     XI. SOME LIGHT PATROLS OF THE FRENCH COAST                      148

    XII. THE GUARDIAN LIGHTS OF CANADA’S COAST                       161

   XIII. THE MINOT’S LEDGE LIGHT                                     176

    XIV. THE TILLAMOOK ROCK LIGHT-STATION                            183

     XV. THE COAST LIGHTS OF THE UNITED STATES                       196

    XVI. THE LAMP-POSTS OF THE GREAT LAKES OF NORTH AMERICA          208

   XVII. THE MOST POWERFUL ELECTRIC LIGHTHOUSES OF THE WORLD         218

  XVIII. SOME LIGHTHOUSES IN AUSTRALIAN WATERS                       229

    XIX. THE SIGNPOSTS OF THE SANDBANKS                              240

     XX. A FLAMING SENTINEL OF THE MALACCA STRAITS                   257

    XXI. UNATTENDED LIGHTHOUSES                                      267

   XXII. FLOATING LIGHTHOUSES                                        284

  XXIII. THE LIGHT-KEEPER AND HIS LIFE                               301

  INDEX                                                              318



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                             FACING PAGE

  The 43,000,000 Candle-Power Beams thrown from the Heligoland
      Lighthouse                                          _Frontispiece_

  How the Beachy Head Lighthouse was built                             6

  Workmen returning by the Aerial Cableway to the Top of Beachy
      Head                                                             7

  The Sanganeb Reef Lighthouse in the Red Sea                         14

  The Alcatraz Lighthouse under Construction                          15

  The Alcatraz Lighthouse completed                                   15

  The Thimble Shoals Light                                            22

  Setting the Last Stone of the Beachy Head Lighthouse                23

  The Hyperradial Apparatus for the Manora Point Light, Karachi,
      India                                                           48

  First Order Triple Flashing Light of 920 Millimetres Focal
      Distance for Chilang Lighthouse, China                          49

  Looking up the Lantern of the Needles Lighthouse                    52

  Fixed Apparatus of the Fourth Order for Sarawak                     53

  A Modern Lighthouse Siren Plant                                     58

  The Sirens of the Lizard                                            59

  The Acetylene Fog-Gun                                               64

  The Rattray Head Lighthouse                                         65

  Sule Skerry Light                                                   65

  The Eddystone, the Most Famous Lighthouse of England                76

  A Thrilling Experience                                              77

  The “Bishop,” the Western Outpost of England                        82

  The Wolf Rock Lighthouse                                            83

  The Longships Light                                                 88

  The Godrevy Light, Scilly Islands                                   89

  The Chicken Rock Lighthouse, off the Isle of Man                    92

  How the Skerryvore is built                                         93

  The Skerryvore, Scotland’s Most Famous Lighthouse                  102

  Barra Head Lighthouse, Scotland                                    103

  The Homes of the Keepers of the Skerryvore and Dhu-Heartach
      Lights                                                         103

  The Dhu-Heartach Lighthouse                                        110

  The North Unst, Britain’s most Northerly Lighthouse                111

  The North Unst Light                                               116

  Landing Water at the North Unst                                    116

  The Flannen Islands Light-Station                                  117

  Building the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse                               122

  Building the Fastnet Tower                                         123

  Erecting the Fastnet Lantern                                       123

  The Fastnet, the Outpost of Europe                                 128

  The Lantern of the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse                         129

  The Rothersand Lighthouse                                          136

  The Fourteen-Foot Bank Lighthouse, built on Sand                   137

  The Heaux de Bréhat Light                                          150

  Fitting the Lantern of La Jument Light                             151

  Preparing the Foundations of the Jument Tower                      154

  The Jument Light recently erected off Ushant                       155

  The Cape Race Lighthouse, Newfoundland                             162

  Cann Island Lighthouse, on the East Coast of Newfoundland          163

  The Light at the Southern End of Belle Ile                         166

  The North Belle Ile Lighthouse                                     167

  A Magnificent Canadian Light on the Pacific Coast                  168

  The West End Guardian of Sable Island                              168

  St. Esprit Island Light, Nova Scotia                               169

  The Gull Island Light, Newfoundland                                169

  The Batiscan Front Range Lighthouse, River St. Lawrence            170

  Isle St. Thérèse Upper Range Back Lighthouse, River St. Lawrence   170

  Upper Traverse Lighthouse in the River St. Lawrence                171

  An “Ice Shove” upon the Back Range Light in Lake St. Peter         171

  The Minot’s Ledge Light                                            178

  Tender landing Building Material upon the Tillamook Rock           179

  The Tillamook Rock Light-Station from the South                    186

  The Conquest of the Tillamook                                      187

  The Terrible Tillamook Rock                                        187

  Famous United States Lighthouses of Two Centuries                  192

  The Race Rock Light                                                193

  The Carquinez Strait Light                                         198

  A Church as a Lighthouse                                           199

  The Bonita Point Lighthouse off the Californian Coast              202

  Point Pinos Light-Station, California                              203

  The Farallon Rock and Light                                        204

  The Farallon Lighthouse off San Francisco                          204

  The Punta Gorda Light-Station, California                          205

  A Lighthouse on the Great Lakes in the Grip of Winter              210

  Building the Barre à Boulard Light in the River St. Lawrence       211

  Colchester Reef Lighthouse, Lake Erie                              214

  The Latest Development in Lighthouse Engineering                   215

  The Electric Searchlights of the Heligoland Lighthouse             222

  The Heligoland Lighthouse                                          223

  Green Cape Lighthouse, New South Wales                             232

  The Sentinel of Sugar Loaf Point, New South Wales                  232

  “Bungaree Norah” Station, New South Wales                          232

  The Cape Byron Lighthouse, New South Wales                         233

  The Macquarie Lighthouse, South Head of Sydney Harbour             233

  Painting the Troubridge Lighthouse, South Australia                234

  Green Point Lighthouse, Natal                                      235

  The Pacific Outpost of the United States of America                235

  The _Seven Stones_ Lightship                                       242

  The _San Francisco_ Lightship                                      243

  The _Norderney_ Lightship                                          250

  The _Fire Island_ Lightship, the Atlantic Outpost of the United
      States                                                         251

  Completing the One-Fathom Bank Lighthouse in the Malacca
      Straits                                                        262

  The One-Fathom Bank Lighthouse, Malacca Straits, in Course of
      Erection                                                       263

  The Platte Fougère Lighthouse under Construction                   268

  The Platte Fougère Lighthouse                                      269

  Setting the Compressed-Air Reservoir at Fort Doyle                 270

  The Fort Doyle Siren                                               271

  An Unattended Beacon Light placed upon a Wild Part of the
      Scottish Coast                                                 272

  The Gasfeten Light: a Lonely Beacon in Swedish Waters              273

  The Dalén “Sun-Valve,” the Most Wonderful Invention of
      Modern Lighthouse Engineering                                  274

  The Gas Accumulators Employed with the Dalén Automatic System      275

  The Lagerholmen Lighthouse                                         278

  An Unattended Beacon Light in the Straits of Magellan              279

  An Automatic Lightboat                                             279

  The Wigham Thirty-One Day Unattended Petroleum Light               280

  Willson Automatic Gas and Whistling Light off Egg Island, Nova
      Scotia                                                         281

  The “Outer Automatic” Combined Gas and Whistling Light,
      Halifax, Nova Scotia                                           281

  The _Svinbādan_ Unattended Lightship in Swedish Waters             292

  The _Kalkgrundet_, Sweden’s Latest Automatic Lightship             293

  The Lantern used in the Wigham Automatic Petroleum Beacon          298

  The “6-Bar” Floating Wigham Light in Portsmouth Harbour            299

  The Pumps whereby the Oil is lifted from the Lowest Floor to
      the Lantern Room                                               306

  Combined Kitchen and Living-Room in the Lighthouse                 307

  Keeper cleaning the Lamp after it has cooled down                  312

  A Lighthouse Bedroom                                               313



CHAPTER I

THE ORIGIN OF THE LIGHTHOUSE


The mariner, in pursuit of his daily business, is exposed to dangers
innumerable. In mid-ocean, for the most part, he need not fear them
particularly, because he has plenty of sea-room in which to navigate
his ship, and in case of thick fog he can ease up until this dreaded
enemy lifts or disperses. But in crowded coastal waters his position
is often precarious, for he may be menaced by lurking shoals or hidden
reefs, which betray little or no indication of their whereabouts, and
which may be crossed with apparent safety. If the ship blunders on in
ignorance, it is brought up with a thud as it buries its nose in the
sucking sand, or gives a mighty shiver as it scrapes over the rocky
teeth, perhaps to be clasped as in a vice, or to be battered and broken
so fearfully that, when at last it tears itself free and slips off into
deep water, it can only founder immediately. Here, if fog blots out the
scene, the ship is in danger of being lured to certain destruction by
currents and other natural forces, since the captain is condemned to a
helplessness as complete as of a blind man in a busy street.

It is not surprising, then, that the captain, as he approaches or
wanders along a tortuous shoreline, scans the waters eagerly for a
glimpse of the guardian monitor, which, as he knows from his reckonings
and chart, should come within sight to guide him on his way. The
danger-signal may be one of many kinds--a misty, star-like glimmer
thrown from a buoy dancing on the waves, the radiant orb from a
lightship bobbing up and down and swinging rhythmically to and fro, a
fixed flare-light, or dazzling, spoke-like rays revolving across the
sky. If sight be impossible owing to fog, he must depend upon his ear
for the measured tolling of a bell, the shriek of a whistle, the deep
blare of a siren, or the sharp report of an explosive. When he has
picked up one or other of these warnings, he feels more at ease, and
proceeds upon his way, eyes and ears keenly strained for warning of the
next danger ahead.

The lighthouse is the greatest blessing that has been bestowed upon
navigation. It renders advance through the waters at night as safe
and as simple as in the brilliancy of the midday sun. But for these
beacons the safe movement of ships at night or during fog along the
crowded steamship highways which surround the serrated shores of the
five continents would be impossible. It is only natural, therefore,
that the various nations of the world should strenuously endeavour to
light their coasts so adequately that the ship may proceed at night as
safely and as comfortably as a man may walk down an illuminated city
thoroughfare.

Whence came the idea of lighting the coastline with flaring beacons? It
is impossible to say. They have been handed down to modern civilization
through the mists of time. The first authentic lighthouse was Sigeum,
on the Hellespont, which undoubtedly antedates the famous Pharos of
Alexandria. The latter was a massive square tower, 400 feet high, and
was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was built about
331 B.C. The warning light was emitted from a huge wood fire, which
was kept burning at the summit continuously during the night; the
illumination is stated to have been visible for a distance of forty
miles, but modern knowledge disputes this range. The precise design
of this wonderful tower is unknown, but it must have been a huge
structure, inasmuch as it is computed to have cost the equivalent in
modern money of over £200,000, or $1,000,000.

For sixteen hundred years it guided the navigators among the waters
from which it reared its smoking crest, and then it disappeared.
How, no one knows, although it is surmised that it was razed by an
earthquake; but, although it was swept from sight, its memory has been
preserved, and the French, Italian, and Spanish nations use its name in
connection with the lighthouse, which in France is called _phare_; in
the other two countries mentioned, _faro_.

The Romans in their conquest of Gaul and Britain brought the lighthouse
with them, and several remains of their efforts in this direction are
to be found in England, notably the pharos at Dover.

In all probability, however, the lighthouse in its most primitive form
is at least as old as the earliest books of the Bible. Undoubtedly it
sprang from the practice of guiding the incoming boatman to his home
by means of a blazing bonfire set up in a conspicuous position near
by. Such a guide is a perfectly obvious device, which even to-day is
practised by certain savage tribes.

When the Phœnicians traded in tin with the ancient Britons of Cornwall,
their boats continually traversed the rough waters washing the western
coasts of Spain, where, for the safer passage of their sailors,
doubtless, they erected beacons upon prominent headlands. The oldest
lighthouse in the world to-day, which in some quarters is held to be
of Phœnician origin, is that at Corunna, a few miles north of Cape
Finisterre. Other authorities maintain that it was built during the
reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan. In 1634 it was reconstructed, and is
still in existence.

At the mouth of the Gironde is another highly interesting link with
past efforts and triumphs in lighthouse engineering. The Gironde
River empties itself into the Bay of Biscay through a wide estuary,
in the centre of which is a bunch of rocks offering a terrible menace
to vessels. This situation achieved an unenviable reputation in the
days when ships first ventured out to sea. Being exposed to the broad
Atlantic, it receives the full force of the gales which rage in the
Bay of Biscay, and which make of the Gironde River estuary a fearful
trap. The trading town of Bordeaux suffered severely from the ill fame
attached to the mouth of the waterway upon which it was dependent,
for both the sea and the roads exacted a heavy toll among the ships
which traded with the famous wine capital of Gascony. How many fine
vessels struck the rocks of Cordouan and went to pieces within sight
of land, history does not record, but the casualties became so numerous
that at last the firms trading with Bordeaux refused to venture into
the Gironde unless a light were placed on the reef to guide their
captains. Alarmed at the prospect of losing their remunerative traffic,
the citizens of Bordeaux built a tower upon the deadly reef, with a
beacon which they kept stoked with wood, four men being reserved for
its service. In return the authorities exacted a tax from each vessel
arriving and leaving the port, in order to defray the expense thus
incurred. Probably from this action originated the custom of lighthouse
dues.

This bonfire served its purposes until the Black Prince brought Gascony
under his power. He demolished the primitive beacon, and erected in its
place another tower, 40 feet high, on which the _chauffer_ was placed,
a hermit being entrusted with the maintenance of the light at night.
Near the lighthouse--if such it can be called--a chapel was built,
around which a few fishermen erected their dwellings. When the hermit
died, no one offered to take his place. The beacon went untended, the
fishermen departed, and the reef once more was allowed to claim its
victims from shipping venturing into the estuary.

In 1584 an eminent French architect, Louis de Foix, secured the
requisite concession to build a new structure. He evolved the fantastic
idea of a single building which should comprise a beacon, a church and
a royal residence in one. For nearly twenty-seven years he laboured
upon the rock, exposed to the elements, before he (or rather his
successor) was able to throw the welcome warning rays from the summit
of his creation. This was certainly the most remarkable lighthouse
that has ever been set up. It was richly decorated and artistically
embellished, and the tower was in reality a series of galleries rising
tier upon tier. At the base was a circular stone platform, 134 feet in
diameter, flanked by an elegant parapet surrounding the light-keepers’
abode. This lower structure was intended to form a kind of breakwater
which should protect the main building from the force of the waves.
On the first floor was a magnificent entrance hall, leading to the
King’s apartment, a _salon_ finely decorated with pillars and mural
sculptures. Above was a beautiful chapel with a lofty roof supported by
carved Corinthian columns. Finally came the beacon, which at that date
was about 100 feet above the sea-level.

Access to the successive floors was provided by a beautiful spiral
staircase, the newels of which were flanked by busts of the two
French Kings, Henry III. and Henry IV., and of the designer de Foix.
The architect died not long before his work was completed, but the
directions he left behind him were so explicit that no difficulty was
experienced in consummating his ideas, and the Tour de Cordouan shed
its beneficial light for the first time over the waters of the Bay of
Biscay in 1611. So strongly was the building founded that it has defied
the attacks of Nature to this day, although it did not escape those of
the vandals of the French Revolution, who penetrated the tower, where
the busts of the two Henrys at once excited their passion. The symbols
of monarchy were promptly hurled to the floor, and other damage was
inflicted. When order was restored, the busts were replaced, and all
the carvings which had suffered mutilation from mob law were restored.
At the same time, in accordance with the spirit of progress, the tower
was modified to bring it into line with modern lighting principles;
it was extended to a height of 197 feet, and was crowned with an
up-to-date light, visible twenty-seven miles out to sea. For more than
three centuries it has fulfilled its designed purpose, and still ranks
as the most magnificent lighthouse that ever has been built. Its cost
is not recorded, but it must necessarily have been enormous.

In Great Britain the seafarer’s warning light followed the lines of
those in vogue upon the older part of the Continent, consisting chiefly
of wood and coal fires mounted on conspicuous lofty points around the
coast. These braziers were maintained both by public and by private
enterprise. Patents were granted to certain individuals for the upkeep
of beacons in England and Scotland, and from time to time the holders
of these rights came into conflict with the public authority which was
created subsequently for the maintenance of various aids to navigation
around the coasts. In England these monopolies were not extinguished
until 1836, when the Brethren of Trinity House were empowered, by
special Act of Parliament, to purchase the lights which had been
provided both by the Crown and by private interests, so as to bring the
control under one corporation.

[Illustration:

            _Photo by permission of Messrs. Bullivant & Co., Ltd._

HOW THE BEACHY HEAD LIGHTHOUSE WAS BUILT.

To facilitate erection a cableway was stretched between the top of
Beachy Head and a staging placed beside the site of the tower in the
water. A stone is being sent down.]

The _chauffer_, however, was an unsatisfactory as well as an expensive
type of beacon. Some of these grates consumed as many as 400 tons of
coal per annum--more than a ton of coal per night--in addition to vast
quantities of wood. Being completely exposed, they were subject to the
caprices of the wind. When a gale blew off the land, the light on the
sea side was of great relative brilliancy; but when off the water,
the side of the fire facing the sea would be quite black, whereas on
the landward side the fire bars were almost melting under the fierce
heat generated by the intense draughts. This was the greater drawback,
because it was, of course, precisely when the wind was making a lee
shore below the beacon that the more brilliant light was required.

When the Pilgrim Fathers made their historic trek to the United States,
they took Old World ideas with them. The first light provided on the
North American continent was at Point Allerton, the most prominent
headland near the entrance to Boston Harbour, where 400 boatloads of
stone were devoted to the erection of a tower capped with a large
basket of iron in which “fier-bales of pitch and ocum” were burned.
This beacon served the purpose of guiding navigators into and out of
Boston Harbour for several years.

When, however, the shortcomings of the exposed fire were realized,
attempts were made to evolve a lighting system, which does in reality
constitute the foundation of modern practice. But the beacon fire held
its own for many years after the new principle came into vogue, the
last coal fire in England being the Flat Holme Light, in the Bristol
Channel, which was not superseded until 1822.

In Scotland the coal fire survived until 1816, one of the most
important of these beacons being that on the Isle of May, in the
Firth of Forth, which fulfilled its function for 181 years. This was
a lofty tower, erected in 1636, on which a primitive type of pulley
was installed for the purpose of raising the fuel to the level of the
brazier, while three men were deputed to the task of stoking the fire.
It was one of the private erections, and the owner of the Isle of May,
the Duke of Portland, in return for maintaining the light, was allowed
to exact a toll from passing vessels. When the welfare of the Scottish
aids to navigation was placed under the control of the Commissioners
of Northern Lighthouses, this body, realizing the importance of the
position, wished to erect upon the island a commanding lighthouse
illuminated with oil lamps; but it was necessary first to buy out the
owner’s rights, and an Act of Parliament was passed authorizing this
action, together with the purchase of the island and the right to levy
tolls, at an expenditure of £60,000, or $300,000. In 1816 the coal fire
was finally extinguished.

[Illustration:

            _Photo by permission of Messrs. Bullivant & Co., Ltd._

WORKMEN RETURNING BY THE AERIAL CABLEWAY TO THE TOP OF BEACHY HEAD.]

The English lights are maintained by the Brethren of Trinity House, and
their cost is defrayed by passing shipping. This corporation received
its first charter during the reign of Henry VIII. Trinity House, as
it is called colloquially, also possesses certain powers over the
Commissioners of Northern Lights and the Commissioners of Irish Lights,
and is itself under the sway, in regard to certain powers, such as the
levy of light dues, of the Board of Trade. This system of compelling
shipowners to maintain the coast lights is somewhat anomalous; it
possesses many drawbacks, and has provoked quaint situations at times.
Thus, when the _Mohegan_ and the _Paris_ were wrecked on the Manacles
within the space of a few months, the outcry for better lighting
of this part of the Devon and Cornish coasts was loud and bitter.
The shipowners clamoured for more protection, but at the same time,
knowing that they would have to foot the bill, maintained that further
lighting was unnecessary.

The British Isles might very well emulate the example of the United
States, France, Canada, and other countries, which regard coast
lighting as a work of humanity, for the benefit of one and all, and
so defray the cost out of the Government revenues. Some years ago,
when an International Conference was held to discuss this question,
some of the representatives suggested that those nations which give
their lighthouse services free to the world should distinguish against
British shipping, and levy light-dues upon British ships, with a view
to compelling the abolition of the tax upon foreign vessels visiting
British ports. Fortunately, the threat was not carried into execution.

The design and construction of lighthouses have developed into a highly
specialized branch of engineering. Among the many illustrious names
associated with this phase of enterprise--de Foix, Rudyerd, Smeaton,
Walker, Douglass, Alexander, and Ribière--the Stevenson family stands
pre-eminent. Ever since the maintenance of the Scottish coast lights
was handed over to the Northern Commissioners, the engineering chair
has remained in the hands of this family, the names of whose members
are identified with many lights that have become famous throughout the
world for their daring nature, design, and construction. Moreover,
the family’s contributions to the science of this privileged craft
have been of incalculable value. Robert Louis Stevenson has written a
fascinating story around their exploits in “A Family of Engineers.”

It was at first intended that the great author himself should follow
in the footsteps of his forbears. He completed his apprenticeship at
the drawing-table under his father and uncle, and became initiated into
the mysteries of the craft. At the outset he apparently had visions of
becoming numbered among those of his family who had achieved eminence
in lighthouse construction, and he often accompanied his father or
uncle on their periodical rounds of inspection. Probably the rough and
tumble life in a small tender among the wild seas of Scotland, the
excitement of landing upon dangerous rocks, the aspect of loneliness
revealed by acquaintance with the keepers, and the following of the
growth of a new tower from its foundations, stirred his imagination, so
that the dormant literary instinct, which, like that of engineering,
he had inherited, became fired. Mathematical formulæ, figures, and
drawings, wrestled for a time with imagination and letters, but the
call of the literary heritage proved triumphant, and, unlike his
grandfather, who combined literature with lighthouse construction, and
who, indeed, was a polished author, as his stirring story of the “Bell
Rock Lighthouse” conclusively shows, he finally threw in his lot with
letters.

The fact that for more than a century one family has held the exacting
position of chief engineer to the Northern Commissioners, and has
been responsible for the lights around Scotland’s troublous coasts,
is unique in the annals of engineering. Each generation has been
identified with some notable enterprise in this field. Thomas Smith,
the father-in-law of Robert Stevenson, founded the service, and was
the first engineer to the Commissioners. Robert Stevenson assumed his
mantle and produced the “Bell Rock.” His son, Alan Stevenson, was the
creator of the “Skerryvore.” The next in the chain, David Stevenson,
built the “North Unst.” David and Thomas Stevenson, who followed,
contributed the “Dhu-Heartach” and the “Chicken Rock” lights; while
the present generation, David and Charles, have erected such works as
“Rattray Briggs,” “Sule Skerry,” and the Flannen Islands lighthouses.
In addition, the latter have developed lighthouse engineering in
many novel directions, such as the unattended Otter Rock lightship,
the unattended Guernsey lighthouse, and the automatic, acetylene,
fog-signal gun, which are described elsewhere in this volume.

Some forty years ago the Stevensons also drew up the scheme and
designed the first lighthouses for guarding the coasts of Japan.
The essential optical apparatus and other fittings were built and
temporarily erected in England, then dismantled and shipped to the
East, to be set up in their designed places. The Japanese did not fail
to manifest their characteristic trait in connection with lighthouses
as with other branches of engineering. The structures produced by the
Scottish engineers fulfilled the requirements so perfectly, and were
such excellent models, as to be considered a first-class foundation for
the Japanese lighthouse service. The native engineers took these lights
as their pattern, and, unaided, extended their coast lighting system
upon the lines laid down by the Stevensons. Since that date Japan
has never gone outside her own borders for assistance in lighthouse
engineering.



CHAPTER II

BUILDING A LIGHTHOUSE


Obviously, the task of erecting a lighthouse varies considerably with
the situation. On the mainland construction is straightforward, and
offers little more difficulty than the building of a house. The work
assumes its most romantic and fascinating form when it is associated
with a small rocky islet out to sea, such as the Eddystone, Skerryvore,
or Minot’s Ledge; or with a treacherous, exposed stretch of sand,
such as that upon which the Rothersand light is raised. Under such
conditions the operation is truly herculean, and the ingenuity and
resource of the engineer are taxed to a superlative degree; then he
is pitted against Nature in her most awful guise. Wind and wave,
moreover, are such formidable and relentless antagonists that for
the most momentary failure of vigilance and care the full penalty
is exacted. Then there are the fiercely scurrying currents, tides,
breakers, and surf, against which battle must be waged, with the odds
so overwhelmingly ranged against frail human endeavour that advance
can only be made by inches. The lighthouse engineer must possess the
patience of a Job, the tenacity of a limpet, a determination which
cannot be measured, and a perseverance which defies galling delays and
repeated rebuffs. Perils of an extreme character beset him on every
hand; thrilling escape and sensational incident are inseparable from
his calling.

The first step is the survey of the site, the determination of the
character of the rock and of its general configuration, and the takings
of levels and measurements for the foundations. When the rugged hump is
only a few feet in diameter little latitude is afforded the engineer
for selection, but in instances where the islet is of appreciable area
some little time may be occupied in deciding just where the structure
shall be placed. It seems a simple enough task to determine; one
capable of solution within a few minutes, and so for the most part it
is--not from choice, but necessity--when once the surface of the rock
is gained. The paramount difficulty is to secure a landing upon the
site. The islet is certain to be the centre of madly surging currents,
eddies, and surf, demanding wary approach in a small boat, while the
search for a suitable point upon which to plant a foot is invariably
perplexing. Somehow, the majority of these bleak, wave-swept rocks
have only one little place where a landing may be made, and that only
at certain infrequent periods, the discovery of which in the first
instance often taxes the engineer sorely.

Often weeks will be expended in reconnoitring the position, awaiting
a favourable wind and a placid sea. Time to the surveyor must be
no object. He is the sport of the elements, and he must curb his
impatience. To do otherwise is to court disaster. The actual operations
on the rock may only occupy twenty minutes or so, but the task of
landing is equalled by that of getting off again--the latter frequently
a more hazardous job than the former.

The west coast of Scotland is dreaded, if such a term may be used, by
the engineer, because the survey inevitably is associated with bitter
disappointments and maddening delays owing to the caprices of the
ocean. This is not surprising when it is remembered that this coastline
is of a cruel, forbidding character and is exposed to the full reach of
the Atlantic, with its puzzling swell and vicious currents. The same
applies to the west coast of Ireland and the open parts of the South
of England. The Casquets, off the coast of Alderney, are particularly
difficult of approach, as they are washed on all sides by wild races of
water. There is only one little cove where a landing may be effected
by stepping directly from a boat, and this place can be approached
only in the calmest weather and when the wind is blowing in a certain
direction. On one occasion, when I had received permission to visit
the lighthouse, I frittered away three weeks in Alderney awaiting a
favourable opportunity to go out, and then gave up the attempt in
disgust. As it happened, another month elapsed before the rock was
approachable to make the relief.

When the United States Lighthouse Board sanctioned the construction
of the Tillamook lighthouse on the rock of that name, off the Oregon
coast, the engineer in charge of the survey was compelled to wait
six months before he could venture to approach the island. In this
instance, however, his time was not wasted entirely, as there were many
preparations to be completed on the mainland to facilitate construction
when it should be commenced. Early in June, 1879, the weather
moderated, and the Pacific assumed an aspect in keeping with its name.
Stimulated by the prospect of carrying out his appointed task, the
engineer pushed off in a boat, but, to his chagrin, when he drew near
the rock he found the prospects of landing to be hopeless. He cruised
about, reconnoitring generally from the water, and then returned to
shore somewhat disgusted.

A fortnight later he was instructed to take up his position at Astoria,
to keep a sharp eye on the weather, to take the first chance that
presented itself of gaining the rock, and not to return to headquarters
until he had made a landing. He fretted and fumed day after day, and
at last pushed off with a gang of men when the sea where it lapped
the beach of the mainland was as smooth as a lake; but as they drew
near the Tillamook it was the same old story. A treacherous swell
was running, the waves were curling wickedly and fussily around the
islet; but the engineer had made up his mind that he would be balked
no longer, so the boat was pulled in warily, in the face of terrible
risk, and two sailors were ordered to get ashore by hook or by crook.
The boat swung to and fro in the swell. Time after time it was carried
forward to the landing spot by a wave, and then, just as the men were
ready to jump, the receding waters would throw it back. At last, as
it swung by the spot, the two men gave a leap and landed safely. The
next proceeding was to pass instruments ashore, but the swell, as if
incensed at the partial success achieved, grew more boisterous, and the
boat had to back away from the rock. The men who had landed, and who
had not moved a yard from the spot they had gained, became frightened
at this manœuvre, and, fearing that they might be marooned, jumped into
the sea, and were pulled into the boat by means of their life-lines,
without having accomplished a stroke.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

THE SANGANEB REEF LIGHTHOUSE IN THE RED SEA.

It indicates a treacherous coral reef, 703 miles from Suez. It is an
iron tower 180 feet high, with a white flashing light having a range of
19 miles.]

The engineer chafed under these disappointments, and himself determined
to incur the risk of landing at all hazards. With his tape-line in
his pocket, he set out once more a few days later, and in a surf-boat
pulled steadily into the froth and foam around the rock; while the men
sawed to and fro the landing-place, he crouched in the bow, watching
his opportunity. Presently, the boat steadying itself for a moment, he
made a spring and reached the rock. He could not get his instruments
ashore, so without loss of time he ran his line from point to point as
rapidly as he could, jotted down hurried notes, and, when the swell was
growing restive again, hailed the boat, and at a favourable moment, as
it manœuvred round, jumped into it.

The details he had secured, though hastily prepared, were sufficient
for the purpose. His report was considered and the character of the
beacon decided. There was some discussion as to the most favourable
situation for the light upon the rock, so a more detailed survey
was demanded to settle this problem. This task was entrusted to an
Englishman, Mr. John R. Trewavas, who was familiar with work under such
conditions. He was a master-mason of Portland and had been engaged
upon the construction of the Wolf Rock, one of the most notable and
difficult works of its kind in the history of lighthouse engineering.

He pushed off to the rock on September 18, 1879, in a surf-boat, only
to find the usual state of things prevailing. The boat was run in, and,
emulating the first engineer’s feat, he cleared the water and landed
on the steep, rocky slope; but it was wet and slippery, and his feet
played him false. He stumbled, and stooped to regain his balance, but
just then a roller curled in, snatched him up and threw him into
the whirlpool of currents. Life-lines were thrown, and the surf-boat
struggled desperately to get near him, but he was dragged down by the
undertow and never seen again. This fatality scared his companions,
who returned hastily to the mainland. The recital of their dramatic
story stirred the public to such a pitch that the authorities were
frantically urged to abandon the project of lighting the Tillamook.

Mr. David Stevenson related to me an exciting twenty minutes which
befell him and his brother while surveying a rock off the west coast
of Scotland. They had been waiting patiently for a favourable moment
to effect a landing, and when at last it appeared they drew in and
clambered ashore. But they could not advance another inch. The rock was
jagged and broken, while its surface was as slippery as ice owing to a
thick covering of slimy seaweed whereon boots could not possibly secure
a hold. Having gained the rock with so much difficulty, they were not
going away empty-handed. As they could not stand in their boots, they
promptly removed them, and, taking their line and levels, picked their
way gingerly over the jagged, slippery surface in their stockinged
feet. Movement certainly was exceedingly uncomfortable, because their
toes displayed an uncanny readiness to find every needle-point on the
islet; but the wool of their footwear enabled them to obtain a firm
grip upon the treacherous surface, without the risk of being upset and
having a limb battered or broken in the process. Twenty minutes were
spent in making investigations under these disconcerting conditions,
but the time was adequate to provide all the details required. When
they had completed the survey and had regained their boat--a matter of
no little difficulty in the circumstances--their feet bore sad traces
of the ordeal through which they had passed. However, their one concern
was the completion of the survey; that had been made successfully and
was well worth the toll exacted in the form of physical discomfort.

[Illustration: THE ALCATRAZ LIGHTHOUSE UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

THE ALCATRAZ LIGHTHOUSE COMPLETED.

This tower off the Californian coast is one of the latest works of the
American Lighthouse Department. It has a range of 21 miles.]

As a rule, on a wave-swept rock which only shows itself at short
intervals during the day, the preparation of the foundations is not
an exacting task. A little paring with chisels and dynamite may be
requisite here and there, but invariably the engineer takes the exposed
surface as the basis for his work. The sea has eaten away all the
soft, friable material in its ceaseless erosion, leaving an excellent
foundation to which the superstructure can be keyed to become as solid
as the rock itself.

When the beacon is to be erected upon a sandy bottom, the engineer’s
work becomes more baffling, as he is compelled to carry his underwater
work down to a point where a stable foundation may be secured. When
the Leasowe lighthouse was built on the sandy Wirral shore, the
builders were puzzled by the lack of a suitable foundation for the
masonry tower. An ingenious way out of the difficulty was effected.
In the vicinity an incoming ship, laden with a cargo of cotton, had
gone ashore and had become a total wreck. The cotton was useless for
its intended purpose, so the bales were salvaged and dumped into the
sand at the point where the lighthouse was to be erected. The fleecy
mass settled into the sand, and under compression became as solid as a
rock, while its permanency was assured by its complete submersion. The
stability of this strange foundation may be gathered from the fact that
the tower erected thereon stood, and shed its welcome light regularly
every night, for about a century and a half, only being extinguished
two or three years ago as it was no longer required.

In the Old World, and, indeed, in the great majority of instances,
the lighthouse is what is described as a “monolithic structure,”
being built of courses of masonry, the blocks of which are dovetailed
together not only laterally, but also perpendicularly, so that, when
completed, the tower comprises a solid mass with each stone jointed
to its fellow on four or five of its six sides. This method was first
tried in connection with the Hanois lighthouse, off the Guernsey coast,
and was found so successful that it has been adopted universally in all
lighthouses which are exposed to the action of the waves.

The upper face and one end of each block are provided with projections,
while the lower face and the other end are given indentations.
Thus, when the block is set in position, the projections fit into
corresponding indentations in the adjacent blocks, while the
indentations receive the projections from two other neighbouring
pieces. The whole is locked together by the aid of hydraulic cement.
Consequently the waves, or any other agency, cannot possibly dislodge
a stone without breaking the dovetails or smashing the stone itself.
For the bottom layer, of course, the surface of the rock is pared away
sufficiently to receive the stone, which is bedded in cement adhering
to both the rock and the superimposed block. A hole is then drilled
through the latter deep into the rock beneath, into which a steel rod
or bolt is driven well home, and the hole is sealed up with cement
forced in under such pressure as to penetrate every interstice and
crevice.

The iron supports constitute the roots, as it were, of the tower,
penetrating deep into the heart of the rock to secure a firm grip,
while the tower itself resembles, in its general appearance, a
symmetrical tree trunk, this form offering the minimum of resistance to
the waves. The lower part of the tower is made completely solid by the
dovetailing of the integral blocks, and is cylindrical in shape up to a
certain predetermined level which varies according to the surrounding
conditions and the situation of the light. Some years ago the
lighthouse assumed its trunk-like shape at the bottom course, rising
in a graceful concave curve to the lantern; but this method has been
abandoned, inasmuch as, owing to the decreasing diameter of the tower
as it rose course by course above its foundations, the lowest outer
rings of masonry did not have to withstand any of the superimposed
weight, which naturally bears in a vertical line. By carrying the
lower part to a certain height in the form of a cylinder, and then
commencing the concave curve of the tower, the pressure of the latter
is imposed equally upon the whole of its foundations. The latter may be
stepped--_i.e._, one tier of stones may project a little beyond that of
the one immediately above--but this arrangement is adopted in order to
break the smashing force of the waves.

The conditions attending the actual building operations upon the
rock, which may be accessible only for an hour or two per day in calm
weather, prevent the blocks of granite being shaped and trimmed upon
the site. Accordingly, the lighthouse in the first place is erected
piecemeal on shore. A horizontal course of stones is laid to see that
each dovetail fits tightly and dead true. The next course is laid upon
this, and so on for perhaps eight or ten courses, the trimming and
finicking being accomplished as the work proceeds. Each projection has
to be only just big enough to enter its relative indentation, while
the latter must be exactly of the requisite dimensions to receive the
projection, and no more. Each stone is then given an identification
mark, so that the masons on the rock may perceive at a glance its
precise position in a course, and to what ring of stones it belongs.
Therefore the mason at the site has no anxiety about a stone fitting
accurately; he has merely to set it in position upon its bed of cement.

On shore--generally in the quarry yard--when a series of courses
have been temporarily built up in this manner and have received the
critical approbation of the resident engineer, the topmost course is
removed and retained, while the other blocks are despatched to the
site. This topmost course forms the bottom ring in the next section
of the lighthouse which is built up in the yard, and the topmost
course of this section in turn is held to form the bottom course of
the succeeding part of the tower, and so on from foundation to lantern
parapet.

During the past two or three years reinforced concrete has been
employed to a certain extent for lighthouse construction, but granite
of the finest and hardest quality still remains the material _par
excellence_ for towers erected in exposed, sea-swept positions. The
Russian lighthouse authorities have adopted the ferro-concrete system
in regard to one or two shore lights, especially on the Black Sea,
while another fine structure upon this principle was built by the
French _Service des Phares_ in 1905 at the entrance to the River
Gironde. The system has also been adopted by the Canadian lighthouse
authorities; one or two recent notable lights under their jurisdiction
have been constructed in this material, although on somewhat different
lines from those almost invariably followed, so far as the general
design is concerned.

While the masonry or monolithic structure is the most durable and
substantial structure, it is also the most expensive. In many parts of
the world, notably along the Atlantic coastline of the United States,
what are known as “screw-pile lighthouses” are used. These buildings
vary in form, some resembling a huge beacon, such as indicates the
entrance to a river, while others convey the impression of being
bungalows or pavilions on stilts. The legs are stout, cylindrical, iron
members, the lower ends of which are shaped somewhat after the manner
of an auger, whereby they may be screwed into the sea-bed--hence the
name. This system has been employed for beacons over dangerous shoals;
and while they are somewhat squat, low-lying lights, they have proved
to be highly serviceable.

Iron has been employed also for lighthouse constructional work,
the system in this case being a combination of the screw pile
and the tower, the latter, extending from a platform whereon the
living-quarters are placed and mounted clear of the water, on piles,
being a huge cylindrical pipe crowned by the lantern. One of the
most interesting and novel of these iron lighthouses is the Hunting
Island tower off the coast of South Carolina. In general design it
resembles the ordinary lighthouse wrought in masonry, and it is 121½
feet in height from the ground to the focal plane. It is built of iron
throughout, the shell being in the form of panels, each of which weighs
1,200 pounds.

This type of tower was selected owing to the severe erosion of the sea
at the point where it is placed. When it was erected in 1875, at a cost
of £20,400, or $102,000, it was planted a quarter of a mile back from
the sea. This action was severely criticized at the time, it being
maintained that the light was set too far from the water’s edge to
be of practical value; but the hungry ocean disappointed the critics,
because in the course of a few years the intervening strip of shore
disappeared, and the necessity of demolishing the light and re-erecting
it farther inland arose. On this occasion the engineers determined to
postpone a second removal for some time. The tower was re-erected at
a point one and a quarter miles inland, and the sum of £10,200, or
$51,000, was expended upon the undertaking. The iron system, which
was adopted, proved its value in this work of removal piece by piece,
because, had the tower been carried out in masonry, it would have been
cheaper to set up a new light, as was done at Cape Henry.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.--SECTIONAL DIAGRAM OF THE AR-MEN LIGHTHOUSE,
SHOWING YEARLY PROGRESS IN CONSTRUCTION.

It guards the “Bay of the Dead,” off Cape Finisterre. Commenced in
1867, it was not finished until 1881.]

Some of the American coast lights are of the most primitive and
odd-looking character, comprising merely a lofty skeleton of ironwork.
The lamp is a head-light, such as is carried by railway engines, fitted
with a parabolic reflector. Every morning the lamp is lowered, cleaned,
and stored in a shack at the foot of the pyramid, to be lighted and
hauled into position at dusk. This is the most economical form of
lighthouse which has been devised, the total cost of the installation
being only about £2,500, or $12,500, while the maintenance charges
are equally low. Lights of this description are employed for the most
part in connection with the lighting of waterways, constituting what
is known as the “back-light” in a range or group of lights studded
along the river to guide the navigator through its twists and shallows,
instead of buoying of the channel.

The task of constructing a sea-rock lighthouse is as tedious and
protracted an enterprise as one could conceive, because the engineer
and his workmen are entirely at the mercy of the weather. Each great
work has bristled with its particular difficulties; each has presented
its individual problems for solution. Few modern lighthouses, however,
have so baffled the engineer and have occupied such a number of years
in completion, as the Ar-men light off Cape Finisterre. This tower
was commenced in 1867, but so great and so many were the difficulties
involved in its erection that the light was not first thrown over the
Atlantic from its lantern until 1881.

This light is situated at one of the most dreaded parts of a sinister
coast. At this spot a number of granite points thrust themselves
at times above the water in an indentation which has received the
lugubrious name Bay of the Dead. The title is well deserved, for it
is impossible to say how many ships have gone down through fouling
these greedy fangs, or how many lives have been lost in its vicinity.
The waters around the spot are a seething race of currents, eddies,
and whirlpools. It is an ocean graveyard in very truth, and although
mariners are only too cognizant of its terrible character, and
endeavour to give this corner of the European mainland a wide birth,
yet storms and fogs upset the calculations of the most careful
navigators.

[Illustration: THE THIMBLE SHOALS LIGHT.

A typical example of the American iron screw pile system. A vessel ran
into this beacon and wrecked it; the ruins caught fire, and the keepers
only escaped in the nick of time.]

As the streams of traffic across the Bay of Biscay grew denser and
denser, it became imperative to provide a guardian light at this
spot, and the engineers embarked upon their task. They knew well that
they were faced with a daring and trying enterprise, and weeks were
spent in these troubled waters seeking for the most favourable site.
As a result of their elaborate surveys, they decided that the rock
of Ar-men offered the only suitable situation; but what a precarious
foundation upon which to lift a massive masonry tower! The hump is only
25 feet wide by 50 feet in length; no more than three little pinnacles
projected above the sea-level, and at low-tide less than 5 feet of the
tough gneiss were exposed. Nor was this the most adverse feature. The
rock is in the centre of the bad waters, and is swept from end to end,
under all conditions of weather, by the furious swell. Some idea of the
prospect confronting the engineers may be gathered from the fact that a
whole year was spent in the effort to make one landing to take levels.

When construction was taken in hand the outlook was even more
appalling. It was as if the sea recognized that its day of plunder was
to draw to a close. The workmen were brought, with all materials
and appliances, to the nearest strategical point on the mainland,
where a depot was established. Yet in the course of two years the
workmen, although they strove day after day to land upon the rock,
only succeeded twenty-three times, while during this period only
twenty-six hours’ work was accomplished! It is not surprising that,
when the men did land, they toiled like Trojans to make the most of the
brief interval. The sum of their work in this time was the planting
of the lighthouse’s roots in the form of fifty-five circular bars,
each 2 inches in diameter and spaced 3¼ feet apart at a depth of about
12 inches in the granite mass. By the end of 1870 the cylindrical
foundation had crept a few feet above the highest projection; this
plinth was 24 feet in diameter, 18 feet in height, and was solid
throughout. A greater diameter was impossible as the wall was brought
almost to the edge of the rock.

By dint of great effort this part of the work was completed by the end
of 1874, which year, by the way, showed the greatest advance that had
been attained in a single twelvemonth. As much of the foundations was
completed in this year as had been achieved during the three previous
years. Although the heavy gales pounded the structure mercilessly, so
well was the masonry laid that it offered quite effective resistance.
Upon this plinth was placed the base of the tower. This likewise is 24
feet in diameter, and about 10 feet in height. It is also of massive
construction, being solid except for a central cylindrical space which
is capable of receiving some 5 tons of coal.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of Messrs. Bullivant & Co., Ltd._

SETTING THE LAST STONE OF THE BEACHY HEAD LIGHTHOUSE.]

The base was completed in a single year, and in 1876 the erection
of the tower proper was commenced, together with the completion of
the approaching stairway leading from the water-level to the base of
the structure. The latter, divided into seven stories, rises in the
form of a slender cone, tapering from a diameter of 21½ feet at the
bottom to 16½ feet at the top beneath the lantern. Some idea of the
massive character of the work which was demanded in order to resist
the intense fury of the waves may be realized when it is mentioned
that the wall at the first and second floors is 5½ feet in thickness,
leaving a diameter of 10 feet for the apartment on the first floor,
which is devoted to the storage of water, and of 7 feet for that on
the second floor, which contains the oil reservoirs for the lamps.
The living-rooms have a diameter of 11 feet, this increased space
being obtained by reducing the thickness of the wall to 2½ feet. The
erection of the superstructure went forward steadily, five years being
occupied in carrying the masonry from the base to the lantern gallery,
so that in 1881 for the first time powerful warning was given of a
danger dreaded, and often unavoidable, from the time when ships first
sailed these seas. Fifteen years’ labour and peril on the part of the
engineers and their assistants were crowned with success.

Whereas the Ar-men light off Cape Finisterre demanded fifteen years
for its completion, the construction of the Beachy Head lighthouse off
the South of England coast was completed within a few months. It is
true that the conditions were vastly dissimilar, but the Sussex shore
is exposed to the full brunt of the south-westerly and south-easterly
gales. This lighthouse thrusts its slender lines from the water,
its foundations being sunk into the chalk bed of the Channel, 550
feet from the base of the towering white cliffs, which constitute a
striking background. This beacon was brought into service in 1902, its
construction having occupied about two years. The light formerly was
placed on the crown of the precipice behind, but, being then some 285
feet above the water, was far from being satisfactory, as its rays
were frequently blotted out by the ruffle of mist which gathers around
Beachy Head on the approach of evening.

Indeed, this is one of the great objections to placing a light upon a
lofty headland. In such a position it does not serve as an aid, but
more often than not as a danger, to navigation, owing to the light
being invisible at the time when its assistance is required and sought
most urgently. Consequently lighthouse engineers endeavour to set their
towers at such a level that the light is not raised more than from
160 to 200 feet above the water. In the case of Beachy Head, a further
reason for a new structure was the disintegration of the cliff upon
which the light stood, under the terrific poundings of the sea, huge
falls of chalk having occurred from time to time, which imperilled the
safety of the building.

When the new lighthouse was taken in hand, investigation of the
sea-bed revealed an excellent foundation in the dense hard chalk, and
accordingly a hole 10 feet deep was excavated out of the solid mass
to receive the footings of the building. As the site is submerged to
a great depth at high-tide, the first operation was the erection of
a circular dam carried to a sufficient height to enable the men to
toil within. By this arrangement the working spells were lengthened
considerably, labour only being suspended at high-tide. When the sea
ebbed below the edge of the dam, the water within was pumped out,
leaving a dry clear space for the workmen. Excavation had to be carried
out with pickaxe and shovel, blasting not being permitted for fear of
shattering and splitting up the mass forming the crust of the sea-bed.

Beside the site a substantial iron staging was erected, and from
this point to the top of the cliffs behind a Bullivant cableway was
stretched, up and down which the various requirements were carried,
together with the workmen. This cableway, designed by Mr. W. T. H.
Carrington, M.I.C.E., consulting engineer to Messrs. Bullivant and Co.,
Ltd., facilitated rapid and economical construction very appreciably.
The span was about 600 feet between the erecting stage and the cliff
summit, and there were two fixed ropes stretched parallel from point
to point. One rope, 6 inches in diameter, had a breaking strain of 120
tons; the second, 5½ inches thick, had a breaking strain of 100 tons.
At the seaward end the cables were anchored into the solid chalk.
Everything required for the constructional operations was handled by
this carrying system, and when it is recalled that some of the blocks
for the lower courses weighed from 4½ to 5 tons, it will be recognized
that such a method of handling these ungainly loads, with the care
that was demanded to preserve the edges and faces from injury, solved
an abstruse problem completely.

The base of the tower, the diameter of which is 47 feet, is solid to
a height of 48 feet, except for a central circular space for storing
drinking water. It was designed by Sir Thomas Matthews, M.I.C.E., the
Engineer-in-Chief to the Trinity Brethren, and is a graceful building,
the tower rising in a curve which is described as a “concave elliptic
frustum.” From the base to the lantern gallery is 123½ feet, and 3,660
tons of Cornish granite were used in its construction. The over-all
height to the top of the lantern is 153 feet. The building is provided
with eight floors, comprising the living and sleeping quarters for
the keepers, storage of oil, and other necessaries. The light, of
the dioptric order, is of 83,000 candle-power, and the two white
flashes given every fifteen seconds are distinguishable for a distance
of seventeen miles, which is the average range of modern British
lighthouses.

Although the constructional work was frequently interrupted by rough
weather, every advantage was taken of calm periods. While from the
point of daring engineering it does not compare with many of the other
great lights of the world, yet it certainly ranks as a fine example
of the lighthouse builder’s skill. Owing to the elaborate precautions
observed, the achievement was not marred by a single fatality, although
there were many thrilling moments, the sole result of which, however,
was the loss of tools and sections of the plant, which in the majority
of cases were recovered when the tide fell. The most serious accident
was a crushed toe, which befell one of the masons when a stone was
being bedded.

Although the lighthouse is subjected to the full fury of wind and wave,
if skilfully erected it will withstand the ravages of both without
creating the slightest apprehensions in the engineer’s mind. The stones
are prepared so carefully that they fit one another like the proverbial
glove, while the cement fills every nook and cranny. Occasionally,
however, the cement will succumb to the natural disintegrating forces,
and, becoming detached, reveal a point vulnerable to attack. The air
within the interstice becomes compressed by the surging water, and
thereby the fabric is liable to be shattered. Some years ago one or
two of the lighthouses guarding the Great Lakes of North America
were found to have become weakened from this cause. A novel remedy
was evolved by an ingenious engineer. He provided each tottering
lighthouse with an iron overcoat, enveloping it from top to bottom.
The metal was not laid directly upon the masonry, but was so placed
as to leave about a quarter of an inch between the inner face of the
metal and the surface of the masonry. Liquid cement was then admitted
under pressure--“grouting” it is called--into this annular space,
and penetrating every crack and crevice in the masonry, and adhering
both to the metal and the stonework, it practically formed another
intermediate jacket, binding the two so firmly together as to make them
virtually one. This novel procedure absolutely restored the menaced
building to its original homogeneity and rigidity, so that it became as
sound as the day on which it was built.

Nowadays, owing to the skill in designing and the workmanship
displayed, one never hears of a modern lighthouse collapsing. Expense
is no object; the engineer does not endeavour to thwart the elements,
but follows a design wherein the minimum of resistance is offered to
them.



CHAPTER III

THE LIGHT AND ILLUMINANTS


While it is the tower that probably creates the deepest impression
upon the popular mind, owing to the round of difficulties overcome
associated with its erection, yet, after all, it is the light which
is the vital thing to the navigator. To him symmetry of outline in
the tower, the searching problems that had to be solved before it was
planted in a forbidding spot, the risks that were incurred in its
erection--these are minor details. His one concern is the light thrown
from the topmost height, warning him to keep off a dangerous spot and
by its characteristic enabling him to determine his position.

I have described the earliest type of light, the open wood or coal
fire blazing on an eminence. In due course the brazier gave way to
tallow candles. This was an advance, certainly, but the range of the
naked light was extremely limited. Consequently efforts were made to
intensify it and to throw it in the desired direction. The first step
was made with a reflector placed behind the illuminant, similar to that
used with the cheap wall-lamp so common in village workshops. This, in
its improved form, is known as the “catoptric system,” the reflector
being of parabolic shape, with the light so disposed that all its rays
(both horizontal and vertical) are reflected in one direction by the
aid of a highly polished surface. While the catoptric system is still
used on some light-vessels, its application to important lighthouses
has fallen into desuetude, as it has been superseded by vastly improved
methods. But the reflector, made either of silvered glass set in a
plaster-of-Paris mould or of brightly polished metallic surfaces,
held the field until the great invention of Augustin Fresnel, which
completely revolutionized the science of lighthouse optics.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.--FIXED APPARATUS OF 360 DEGREES.

Shows one ray throughout the complete circle.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

Fresnel was appointed a member of the French Lighthouse Commission in
1811, and he realized the shortcomings of the existing catoptric method
only too well. Everyone knows that when a lamp is lighted the luminous
rays are diffused on every side, horizontally as well as vertically. In
lighthouse operations the beam has to be thrown in a horizontal line
only, while the light which is shed towards the top and bottom must be
diverted, so that the proportion of waste luminosity may be reduced to
the minimum. While the parabolic reflector achieved this end partially,
it was far from being satisfactory, and Fresnel set to work to condense
the whole of the rays into a horizontal beam. Buffon, a contemporary
investigator, as well as Sir David Brewster, had suggested that the end
might be met by building up a lens in separate concentric rings, but
neither reduced his theories to practice.

Fresnel invented a very simple system. He took a central piece of
glass, which may be described as a bull’s-eye, and around this
disposed a number of concentric rings of glass. But these rings
projected beyond one another. Each constituted the edge of a lens
which, while its radius differed from that of its neighbour, owing to
its position, yet was of the same focus in regard to the source of
illumination. The parts were shaped with extreme care and were united
in position by the aid of fish glue, the whole being mounted in a
metal frame. The advantage of the system was apparent in the first
demonstrations. The lenses being comparatively thin, only one-tenth of
the light passing through was absorbed, whereas in the old parabolic
reflectors one-half of the light was lost.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--SINGLE FLASHING APPARATUS (ONE PANEL AND
MIRROR).

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

This revolutionary development was perfected in 1822, and in the
following year it was submitted to its first practical application
on the tower of Cordouan in the Gironde. Several modifications were
made by the inventor for the purpose of adapting his system to varying
conditions. One of the most important was the disposition of lenses
and mirrors above the optical apparatus for the purpose of collecting
and driving back the rays which were sent out vertically from the
illuminant, so that they might be mingled with the horizontal beam,
thereby reinforcing it. At a later date similar equiangular prisms
were placed below the horizontal beam so as to catch the light thrown
downwards from the luminous source, the result being that finally none,
or very little, of the light emitted by the illuminant was lost, except
by absorption in the process of bending the rays into the desired
direction.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--A TWENTY-FOUR PANEL LIGHT, WHICH WAS INTRODUCED
INTO CERTAIN FRENCH LIGHTHOUSES.]

In this ingenious manner the circle of light is divided into sections,
called “panels,” each of which comprises its bull’s-eye and its
group of concentric rings and prisms. The extent of this division
varies appreciably, as many as sixteen panels being utilized in some
instances. In this direction, however, subdivision can be carried too
far. Thus, in some of the French lighthouses no less than twenty-four
panels were introduced. The disadvantage is obvious. The total volume
of light emitted from the luminous source has to be divided into
twenty-four parts, one for each panel. But the fewer the panels, the
more light is thrown through each, and the correspondingly greater
power of the beam. Thus, in a four-panel light each beam will be six
times as powerful as that thrown from a twenty-four panel apparatus of
the same type.

Fresnel also introduced the system of revolving the optical apparatus,
and by the introduction of suitable devices was able to give the light
a flashing characteristic, so that it became possible to provide
a means of identifying a light from a distance entirely by the
peculiarity of its flash. The French authorities were so impressed with
the wonderful improvement produced by Fresnel’s epoch-making invention
that it was adopted immediately for all French lights. Great Britain
followed suit a few years later, while other countries embraced the
system subsequently, so that the Fresnel lens eventually came into
universal use.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.--A FOUR-PANEL LIGHT.

The ray thrown through each panel is six times as powerful as the beam
thrown through a twenty-four panel apparatus.]

But the Frenchman’s ingenious invention has been developed out of
recognition. To-day only the fundamental basis is retained. Marked
improvements were made by Mr. Alan Stevenson, the famous Scottish
lighthouse engineer. In fact, he carried the idea to a far greater
degree than Fresnel ever contemplated, and in some instances even
anticipated the latter’s subsequent modifications and improvements.
This was demonstrated more particularly in the holophotal revolving
apparatus, the first example of which he designed for the North
Ronaldshay lighthouse in 1850, a similar apparatus being devised some
years later by Fresnel. In 1862 another great improvement was made by
Mr. J. T. Chance, of the well-known lighthouse engineering firm of
Birmingham, which proved so successful that it was incorporated for
first and third order apparatuses in the New Zealand lights designed by
Messrs. Stevenson in the same year.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.--SINGLE APPARATUS IN FOUR PANELS.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

The French and British investigators, however, were not having things
entirely their own way. The United States played a part in these
developments, although they did not enter very successfully into the
problem. The first lighthouse at Boston Harbour carried candles until
superseded by an ordinary lamp, which was hung in the lantern in much
the same way as it might have been suspended behind the window of a
private dwelling. An inventor, Mr. Winslow Lewis, who confessed that
he knew nothing about lighthouse optics, patented what he called a
“magnifying and reflecting lantern” for lighthouse work, which he
claimed was a lamp, a reflector, and a magnifier, all in one. It was as
crude a device as has ever emanated from an inventive brain, but the
designer succeeded in impressing the Government so effectively that
they gave him £4,000, or $20,000, for his invention. The reflector was
wrought of thin copper with a silvered surface, while the magnifier,
the essence of the invention, was what he called a “lens,” but which
in reality comprised only a circular transparent mass, 9 inches in
diameter, and varying from 2½ to 4 inches in thickness, made of
bottle-green glass. The Government considered that it had acquired a
valuable invention, and was somewhat dismayed by the blunt opinion
of one of its inspectors who held contrary views concerning the
magnifier, inasmuch as he reported cynically that its only merit was
that it made “a bad light worse.”

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--DOUBLE FLASHING APPARATUS: TWO PANELS AND
MIRROR.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--DOUBLE FLASHING APPARATUS: TWO GROUPS EACH OF
TWO PANELS.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

The inventor did not manifest any antagonism to this criticism, but
immediately pointed out the great economy in the consumption of oil
that was arising from the use of his idea. Indeed, he prosecuted his
claims so successfully that he clinched a profitable bargain to himself
with the Government. His apparatus had been fitted to thirty-four
lights, and he contracted to maintain them on the basis of receiving
one-half of the oil previously consumed by the lamps which his
invention superseded. This arrangement was in vogue for five years,
when it was renewed, with the difference that on this occasion the
Government, concluding that the inventor was making too much out of
the transaction, reduced the allowance to one-third. Subsequently the
invention received higher commendation from the officials than that
advanced by the critical inspector, although it must be pointed out
that meanwhile the magnifying bull’s-eye had been abandoned, and a
new type of reflector introduced, so that the sole remaining feature
of the wonderful invention was the lamp. Even that had been modified.
When the Lighthouse Board was established in 1852 it abolished the
much-discussed invention, and introduced the Fresnel system, bringing
the United States into line with the rest of the world.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--TRIPLE FLASHING APPARATUS: THREE PANELS AND
MIRROR.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

One feature of the subject cannot fail to arrest attention. This
is the possibility of producing a variety of combinations by the
aid of the lenses to fulfil different requirements. The Fresnel,
Stevenson, and Chance developments in the science of lighthouse optics
facilitated this work very significantly. Accordingly, to-day a
variety of lights, evolved from the variations in the mounting of the
lenses, is in vogue. For purposes of identification they have been
divided into a number of classifications, and, for the convenience
of the navigator, are described as lights of the first order, second
order, and so on. Broadly speaking, there are seven main groups, or
orders, the rating only applying to dioptric or catadioptric lights,
indicating the bending of the luminous rays in the desired direction,
either by refraction and reflection through the medium of prisms, or a
combination of both. Actually there is a distinction between these two,
the true dioptric system referring only to refraction, where the ray is
bent in the desired direction by a glass agent, known as a “refracting
prism.” In the catadioptric system, on the other hand, both methods are
employed, since the prism performs the dual purpose of reflecting and
refracting the rays. However, in modern lighthouse parlance both are
grouped under the one distinction “dioptric.”

The rating or classification of the lights varies according to the
inside radius or focal distance of the lens--in other words, the
distance from the centre of the light to the inner surface of the lens.
The main groups are as follows:

  Hyperradial, 1,330 millimetres (52·3 inches) focal distance.
    1st order,   920      ”      (36·2   ”   )       ”
    2nd   ”      700      ”      (27·6   ”   )       ”
    3rd   ”      500      ”      (19·7   ”   )       ”
    3½    ”      375      ”      (14·7   ”   )       ”
    4th   ”      250      ”      ( 9·8   ”   )       ”
    5th   ”      187·5    ”      ( 7·4   ”   )       ”
    6th   ”      150      ”      ( 5·9   ”   )       ”

The most powerful apparatus used to-day, however, is that known as the
“hyperradiant,” and it is the largest which has yet been devised. For
this, lighthouse engineering is indebted to Messrs. Stevenson, the
engineers to the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses. It was first
suggested as far back as 1869, and experiments were carried out which
emphasized the fact that such an apparatus was required, since it
was found that when large gas-burners were used much of the light in
revolving apparatuses was out of focus and escaped condensation. The
Scottish engineers thereupon suggested that an apparatus should be
used having a focal distance of 1,330 millimetres, or 52·3 inches. In
fact, they went farther and suggested even larger apparatuses, but this
idea has not matured. But it was not until 1885 that Messrs. Stevenson
had such a system manufactured, and then it was tested at the South
Foreland beside the powerful lenses which had just been built for
the new Eddystone and the Mew Island lighthouses. The merits of the
theories advanced by Messrs. Stevenson were then completely proved, for
it was found that with a ten-ring gas-burner the hyperradiant apparatus
threw a light nearly twice as powerful as that given by the rival
lenses with the same burner.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--QUADRUPLE FLASHING APPARATUS: FOUR PANELS.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

At the present moment the hyperradiant is regarded as the _ultima
thule_ of lighthouse optical engineering, and Messrs. Chance Brothers
and Co., of Birmingham, have built some very magnificent apparatuses of
this order. At present there are not more than a dozen such powerful
lights in operation. Three are on the English coast, at Bishop Rock,
Spurn Point, and Round Island, respectively; two in Scotland, at
Fair Isle and Sule Skerry; two in Ireland, at Bull Rock and Tory
Island; one in France, at Cap d’Antifer; one in China, at Pei Yu-shan;
one in India, at Manora Point, Karachi; and the Cape Race light in
Newfoundland. The hyperradiant apparatus is a massive cage of glass,
standing some 12 feet in height, and, as may be supposed, is extremely
expensive.

There is another point in lighthouse optics which demands explanation.
This is the term “divergence,” which plays an important part in the
duration of the flash. In speaking about focus, the engineer follows
somewhat in Euclid’s footsteps in regard to the definition of a point;
in a way it is equally imaginary. The focal point does not mean the
whole of the flame, but the centre of the luminous source, and, as is
obvious, it is impossible to secure a flame without dimensions. It may
be an attenuated, round, oval, or fan-shaped light--the result is the
same. The focal point is the theoretical centre of the luminous source,
and the rays, coming from the top, sides, and bottom of the flame
cannot come from the true focus. If they did, all the light from one
panel would be emitted in absolutely parallel lines, and therefore in a
revolving apparatus the beam would pass any given point on the horizon
in an infinitely short period of time--to be precise, instantaneously.
But the ex-focal rays of the flame, in passing through the lens, emerge
at an angle to those coming from the absolute centre, so that the whole
beam becomes “diverged,” and throws a cone of light from the lens.
Consequently the beam occupies an appreciable period of time in passing
a given point on the horizon.

As may be supposed, the intricate character of the lenses constituting
the optical apparatus of the modern lighthouse demands the highest
skill and infinite care in their preparation, while the composition
of the glass itself is a closely guarded secret. There are less than
half a dozen firms in the world engaged in this delicate and highly
specialized work, of which France claims three, Germany one, and
Great Britain one. All the lighthouse authorities of the various
nations have to secure their requirements from one or other of these
organizations. The industry commenced in France, and for many years the
French reigned supreme. Then it contrived to make its entrance into
England, and was taken up by the family of Chance in Birmingham, who
soon proved themselves equal to their French leaders.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--RED AND WHITE FLASHING APPARATUS.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

The British firm has established a unique reputation, as it has been
responsible for the majority of the great lights of the world, some of
which are not only of huge dimensions and weight, but also of novel
form. The hyperradial apparatuses which have been placed recently in
the towers of Manora Point and Cape Race probably rank as the most
powerful and the finest in existence. These are used in conjunction
with the petroleum vapour incandescent burner. The Cape Race light,
for instance, comprises a revolving optic of four panels, subtending
a horizontal angle of 90 degrees, with a vertical angle of 121½
degrees. Each lens comprises the central disc, or bull’s-eye, around
which are placed nine rings of glass, giving a total refracting angle
of 57 degrees. In order to bend the vertical rays into a horizontal
path twenty-two catadioptric reflecting prisms are disposed above
the lens, while below are thirteen similar prisms. The total amount
of glass worked into the four panels is about 6,720 pounds, and the
prisms are mounted in gun-metal frames, which weigh approximately
4,800 pounds, so that the total weight of the glass portion and its
mounting alone, standing some 12 feet in height, is over 11,500 pounds.
The installation completed for the equipment of the Manora Point
lighthouse, Karachi, is very similar.

In some cases the demand for a powerful light has been met with a
system differing from the “hyperradiant.” The lenses and respective
groups of refractors are superimposed, each tier having its individual
burner and flues for carrying off the products of combustion. In this
way we have the biform, comprising two such panels arranged one above
the other, as in the Fastnet and Eddystone lights; and the quadriform,
wherein four tiers are built one above the other, as installed at the
Mew Island light in Ireland. The advantage of this arrangement is that
a beam of great intensity is secured with a lantern of comparatively
small diameter.

The French authorities adopted a modification of this system. Instead
of placing two lenses and refractors one above the other, they ranged
them side by side, the effect being analogous to a couple of squinting
eyes, the panels being parallel and therefore throwing out parallel
beams. But these adaptations have not come into extensive use, as
they have been superseded by more simple means of achieving similar
requirements with an even more powerful ray. The hyperradiant stands
as the finest type of apparatus yet devised, and therefore is employed
when an extremely powerful light is required.

While the design and arrangement of the optical apparatus is certainly
a most vital and delicate task, the mounting thereof upon a substantial
support in such a way that it may perform its work with the highest
efficiency is equally imperative, since the finest apparatus might be
very adversely affected by being improperly mounted.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--APPARATUS SHOWING A DOUBLE FLASH, FOLLOWED BY
A SINGLE FLASH.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

Obviously, owing to the great weight of the glass, the support must
be heavy and substantial. A massive cast-iron pedestal is employed
for this purpose. When the light is of the revolving character, means
have to be incorporated to secure the requisite rotation. In the early
days the turntable upon which the lens is mounted ran upon rollers,
but now a very much better system is universally employed. This has
been brought to a high standard of perfection by Messrs. Chance of
Birmingham, who have carried out unceasing experiments in this field.
The objection to rollers was the enormous friction that was set up,
and the great effort that was required, not only to set the lenses
revolving, but to keep them rotating at a steady pace. In the modern
apparatus the rollers are superseded by an iron trough filled with
mercury, upon which floats the turntable carrying the lenses. When
the apparatus is properly built and balanced, the friction is so
slight that the turntable can be set in motion by the little finger,
notwithstanding that several tons have to be moved. Although the
optical part of the apparatus floats upon the bed of quicksilver in
the same way as a cork lifebelt floats upon water, it is provided with
rollers which serve to hold the whole apparatus steady and to overcome
any oscillation.

In the case of an immense apparatus such as a hyperradiant lens,
which, together with the turntable, may have a total weight of 17,000
pounds, an enormous quantity of mercury is required. The trough of the
Cape Race hyperradiant light carries 950 pounds of quicksilver, upon
which the lantern is floated. In such an instance, also, the pedestal
is a weighty part of the apparatus, representing in this case about
26,800 pounds, so that the complete apparatus utilized to throw the
1,100,000 candle-power beam from the guardian of the Newfoundland coast
aggregates, when in working order, some 44,000 pounds, or approximately
20 tons.

Within the base of the pedestal is mounted the mechanism for rotating
the optical apparatus. This is of the clockwork type driven by a
weight. The latter moves up and down a tube which extends vertically
to a certain depth through the centre of the tower. The weight of the
driving force and the depth of its fall naturally vary according to
the character of the light. In the Cape Race light the weight is of
900 pounds, and it falls 14½ feet per hour. Similarly, the length of
time which the clock will run on one winding fluctuates. As a rule it
requires to be rewound once every sixty or ninety minutes. A longer run
is not recommended, as it would demand a longer weight-tube, while many
authorities prefer the frequent winding, as the man on duty is kept
on the alert thereby. As the weight approaches the bottom of its tube
it sets an electric bell or gong in action, which serves to warn the
light-keeper that the mechanism demands rewinding.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--THE CLASSIFICATION OF LIGHTS, SHOWING
THE RESPECTIVE RADIUS OR FOCAL DISTANCE OF LENS FROM 150 TO 1,330
MILLIMETRES.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

The weight and clockwork mechanism perfected by Messrs. Chance is
regarded as one of the best in service. The rotation is perfect and
even, owing to the governing system incorporated, while the steel wire
carrying the weight is preferable to the chain, which is subject to
wear and is noisy in action. In the Chance clockwork gear the weight
is just sufficient to start the apparatus from a state of rest, the
advantage of such a method being that, should the apparatus be stopped
in its revolution from any untoward incident, it is able to restart
itself.

Of course, the clockwork mechanism is required only in those cases
where the lenticular apparatus has to be revolved. This introduces
the question of avoiding confusion between lights. When beacons were
first brought into service, the lights were of the fixed type, and the
navigator, although warned by the glare to keep away from the spot
so marked, was given no information as to his position. Accordingly,
lighthouse engineers sought to assist him in this direction during
the blackness of the night by providing a ready visual means of
identification. Owing to the ingenuity which has been displayed, it
has been rendered possible to ring the changes upon a light very
extensively.

These may be subdivided broadly as follows:

  +--------------------+---------+-------------------------------------+
  |   Type of Light.   | Symbol. |          Characteristics.           |
  +--------------------+---------+-------------------------------------+
  | Fixed              | F.      | A steady continuous light.          |
  |                    |         |                                     |
  | Flashing           | Fl.     | A revolving light showing a single  |
  |                    |         |   flash at regular intervals, or a  |
  |                    |         |   fixed light with total eclipses.  |
  |                    |         |                                     |
  | Fixed and flashing | F.Fl.   | A fixed light varied at regular     |
  |                    |         |   intervals by a single flash of    |
  |                    |         |   greater brilliancy.               |
  |                    |         |                                     |
  | Group flashing     | Gp.Fl.  | Various combinations of flashes     |
  |                    |         |   shown at regular intervals.       |
  |                    |         |                                     |
  | Occulting          | Occ.    | A steady light suddenly and totally |
  |                    |         |   eclipsed at regular intervals.    |
  |                    |         |                                     |
  | Group occulting    | Gp.Occ. | A steady light suddenly and totally |
  |                    |         |   eclipsed by a group of two        |
  |                    |         |   or more eclipses.                 |
  +--------------------+---------+-------------------------------------+

In the foregoing classifications only a white light is used. But it may
so happen that the lighthouse, owing to its position and the dangerous
character of the spot which it marks, carries a light which changes
colour from white to red or green, which are shown alternately in
various combinations. These characteristics are indicated as follows:

  +--------------------+------------+----------------------------------+
  |  Type of Light.    |   Symbol.  |        Characteristics.          |
  +--------------------+------------+----------------------------------+
  |                    |            |                                  |
  | Alternating        | Alt.       | White and colour alternating.    |
  |                    |            |                                  |
  | Alternating        | Alt.Fl.    | Flashing alternations by         |
  |   flashing         |            |   revolving mechanism.           |
  |                    |            |                                  |
  | Alternating fixed  | Alt.F.Fl.  | Fixed and flashing alternating.  |
  |   and flashing     |            |                                  |
  |                    |            |                                  |
  | Alternating group  | Alt.Gp.Fl. | Group flashing alternating.      |
  |   flashing         |            |                                  |
  |                    |            |                                  |
  | Alternating        | Alt.Occ.   | Occulting alternately with       |
  |   occulting        |            |   white and coloured             |
  +--------------------+------------+----------------------------------+

In timing a revolving or flashing light, the cycle is taken from the
beginning of one flash to the beginning of the next. In these readings
the flash is always shorter than the duration of the eclipse, while
an occultation is shorter than, or equal to, the length of the light
interval. Since flashing and occulting may be carried out with a
fixed light suddenly extinguished or eclipsed, the characterization
is determined solely according to the relative duration of light
and darkness, irrespective of the type of apparatus employed or the
relative brilliancy. There is one peculiarity of the flashing light
which may be remarked. At short distances and in clear weather a faint
continuous light may be shown.

Hand in hand with the development of the optical apparatus has been
the wonderful improvement in regard to the illuminants and the methods
of producing a brilliant clear flame. The fuel first used upon the
introduction of the oil lamp was sperm or colza oil, the former being
obtained from the whale, and the latter from seeds and a wild-cabbage.
Both were very expensive, so that the maintenance of a light was
costly--so much so that the United States authorities devoted their
efforts to the perfection of a high-class lard-oil. This proved highly
satisfactory, possessing only one drawback. In winter it congealed so
much under the low temperature that it had to be heated before it
could be placed in the lamp; but once the light was set going, the heat
radiated from the burner served to keep the oil sufficiently fluid to
enable it to mount the wick to the point of combustion under capillary
action.

So far as the American authorities were concerned, the advantages of
lard-oil sufficed to bring a cheaper medium than colza-oil into vogue.
A company, which had been induced by the Government to install an
elaborate and expensive plant for the production of colza-oil, after
prolonged experiment and efforts to reduce the cost of production,
announced that it could not compete with the lard-oil, and suggested
that the latter should be employed in preference to the colza. The
Government agreed, but, to compensate the company for its trouble,
purchased the plant which the latter had laid down.

The advances in the processes for refining petroleum, and the
exploitation of the extensive resources of the latter, led to
“earth-oil,” in some form or other, being employed for lighthouse
purposes. The attempt was facilitated by the invention and improvement
of the Argand burner, whereby a brilliant white annular sheet of flame
is produced. Various lighthouse engineers devoted their attention to
the improvement of this burner in conjunction with paraffin. Their
results were completely successful, and at last paraffin became
universally utilized as the cheapest and most efficient illuminant
known.

The general method of feeding the lamps was to pump the oil from a low
level to the burner, thereby producing practically a pressure-feed
system in preference to the capillary action which is used in the
ordinary household lamp. By increasing the number of rings the
intensity of the flame was increased, until at last it was thought that
with this development perfection had been attained so far as lamps were
concerned.

Then came another radical revolution. The invention of the incandescent
gas mantle by Dr. von Auer, and the complete change that it wrought
in connection with gas lighting, induced lighthouse engineers to
experiment in this field. As they could not use coal-gas, they devoted
their investigations to the perfection of a gas from petroleum, which
should be capable of combustion with the incandescent burner. Many
years were devoted to these experiments, and many petroleum vapour
systems were devised. One of the best known, most successful, and most
scientifically perfect, is the Chance incandescent light. This burner
is used in many of the most powerful lights of the world and has given
complete satisfaction. The mantle varies in size with the size and
type of the light, ranging from 35 to 85 millimetres in diameter, the
latter, in conjunction with a hyperradial apparatus, producing a light
exceeding 1,000,000 candle-power.

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Messrs. Chance Bros. & Co., Ltd._

THE HYPERRADIAL APPARATUS FOR THE MANORA POINT LIGHT, KARACHI, INDIA.

Of 1,330 millimetres focus, this is the most powerful and largest
lighthouse apparatus made.]

Not only was a far more powerful light obtained in this manner with
the assistance of the petroleum vapour burner and incandescent mantle,
but the cost of maintaining the light was reduced, owing to the great
economy in oil consumption that was effected thereby, the largest
mantle and burner--85 millimetres--burning only 2½ pints of oil per
hour. The light thus obtained, while being vastly superior to that
derived from a six-wick oil-burner, enables a saving of nearly £48, or
$240, per annum to be recorded, taking the cost of the petroleum at
1s., or 25 cents, per gallon delivered to the lighthouse.

While petroleum is generally used, some countries have adopted other
oil fuels for small permanent lights. Thus, in Germany compressed
oil-gas, water-gas associated with benzine vapour, and Blau liquid gas,
are utilized. The last-named is coming very extensively into vogue,
also, in Holland, Denmark, and Austria. Blau gas has the advantage
that it can be transported in small steel tanks under extremely high
pressure--up to 100 atmospheres, or approximately 1,400 pounds per
square inch. It is an extract of oil-gas produced at a low pressure in
the gas retorts, and then compressed so severely that it liquefies. The
fuel, as it is drawn from the cylinder in which it is stored, has the
pressure reduced by means of a valve, so that it reaches the burner
in a gaseous form at a pressure equivalent to that of the coal-gas used
in private houses, and is burned in the same way with an incandescent
mantle. The advantage of this method lies in the facility with which
large volumes of gas may be transported, a steel cylinder containing
7,500 cubic feet weighing only 132 pounds. It is also inexpensive, a
bottle of the foregoing capacity costing only 12s. 6d., or $3. In some
cases the incandescent mantles, the average life of which is about a
fortnight, are of large diameter, running up to 100 millimetres, or
about 4 inches.

Recently Mr. Gustaf Dalén, of the Gas Accumulator Company of Stockholm,
the inventor of the Dalén flasher and sun-valve, which are described
elsewhere, has introduced a new illuminant, which is coming into vogue,
especially on the Continent. This is called “Daléngas,” and is a
mixture of 9 per cent. dissolved acetylene and 91 per cent. atmospheric
air. Here the dissolved acetylene gas is conducted from a storage
reservoir or high-pressure gas cylinder, of special construction, to
a governor, where the pressure is reduced, and then to the mixing
apparatus, where the acetylene gas is associated with the air in the
above proportions. The idea of this combination and method is to enable
an acetylene gas mixture to be used with the ordinary incandescent
mantles.

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Messrs. Chance Bros. & Co., Ltd._

FIRST ORDER TRIPLE FLASHING LIGHT OF 920 MILLIMETRES FOCAL DISTANCE FOR
CHILANG LIGHTHOUSE, CHINA.]

The advantage of the Daléngas, according to present experience, is
the increased candle-power that is obtainable as compared with other
systems, the superiority being about 75 per cent. under ordinary
conditions. With the largest Fresnel lenses a lighting power of 200,000
Hefner candle-power is secured, while with revolving lenses of the
latest type a beam of 3,000,000 candle-power can be obtained. The flame
is small, and thus becomes concentrated more in the focus of the lens,
so that the divergence of the light may be diminished if desired. When
a light of a certain range is to be installed, the optical apparatus
can be made smaller for Daléngas than for other illuminants, and the
cost is reduced correspondingly. Similarly, if the system is introduced
into an existing light, the latter can be made appreciably more
powerful, without changing the optical apparatus or affecting the
divergence.

In this system the gas is conducted into the lens apparatus from above,
and the lighting arrangement is quite independent of, and does not
interfere in any way with, the revolving apparatus, while the time
spent in changing the mantle is less than half a minute.

All combustible gases, mixed with air in certain proportions, may
produce more or less violent detonations when fired. But the quantity
of mixed gas in this instance is confined in the length of piping
between the burner and the mixing apparatus, and this quantity is so
small that an explosion cannot be dangerous. In fact, all such danger
has been guarded against completely--is, indeed, impossible in any
circumstances.

Electric light has been adopted in one or two cases; but while the
foremost authorities agree that it throws the best, most brilliant and
most powerful beam of light, the system is generally impracticable
on account of its great cost. When tests with this light were made
some years ago in comparison with the light thrown from oil burners,
it was claimed that the latter, owing to its reddish-yellow tinge,
was the most suitable from the all-round point of view, and that it
could penetrate to a greater distance in foggy weather. I have been
informed by several authorities, who have gone more deeply into this
question since, that this is a fallacy, and that the advantage rests
completely with electric light. Experience in Germany, which has two
magnificent electric lighthouses, and in Scotland, certainly supports
this contention, and I have been assured that the sole reason why
electric lighting has not been adopted more widely is the heavy cost,
both of installation and of maintenance. When electric lighting is
rendered cheaper and is brought more to the level of existing lighting
arrangements, one may expect another complete change in lighthouse
practice. In this direction, as explained in another chapter, the
Germans have carried out practical experiments in their characteristic
manner, and have brought the cost of maintaining a most powerful
electric light to the minimum.

One very great advantage of the electric light is the ease with which
the power of the beam may be increased during thick weather, so as to
secure penetration to the greatest distance, and decreased to suit
easier conditions in clear weather.

This point raises the question, “From how far can a light be seen out
at sea?” This factor is influenced by climatic conditions, and also by
the curvature of the earth. The higher the light, or the spectator,
or both, is elevated above the water, the greater the distance from
which the light can be seen. The table on p. 52, prepared by Mr.
Alan Stevenson, the eminent Scottish lighthouse engineer, gives the
distances at which objects can be seen at sea, according to the
respective elevations of the object and the eye of the observer.

For instance, the passenger on a liner the boat-deck of which is 40
feet above the water, approaching the English Channel, will sight
the Bishop Rock light from a distance of about 22 miles, because the
focal plane--that is, the bull’s-eye of the lens--is 163 feet above
the water, which, according to the following table, equals about 14½
miles, to which must be added the height of the boat’s deck, 40 feet
representing 7·25 miles. Similarly, the ray of the Belle Ile light
will come into view when the vessel is 32½ miles distant--height of
focal plane of light, 470 feet = 25 miles, + eye of observer on board
the liner, 45 feet = 7·69 miles; while the Navesink light, being 246
feet above the water, may be picked up by the captain of a liner from
a distance of 28 miles. The range of many lights, however, owing to
the curvature of the earth, is greatly in excess of their geographical
range, and with the most powerful lights the glare of the luminous
beams sweeping the clouds overhead may be seen for a full hour or more
before the ray itself comes into view.

TABLE OF DISTANCES AT WHICH OBJECTS CAN BE SEEN AT SEA, ACCORDING
TO THEIR RESPECTIVE ELEVATIONS AND THE ELEVATION OF THE EYE OF THE
OBSERVER.

  +------------+--------------------+-----------------+
  | Heights in |    Distances in    |  Distances in   |
  |    Feet.   | Statute or English | Geographical or |
  |            |       Miles.       | Nautical Miles. |
  +------------+--------------------+-----------------+
  |      5     |        2·958       |      2·565      |
  |     10     |        4·184       |      3·628      |
  |     15     |        5·123       |      4·443      |
  |     20     |        5·916       |      5·130      |
  |     25     |        6·614       |      5·736      |
  |     30     |        7·245       |      6·283      |
  |     35     |        7·826       |      6·787      |
  |     40     |        8·366       |      7·255      |
  |     45     |        8·874       |      7·696      |
  |     50     |        9·354       |      8·112      |
  |     55     |        9·811       |      8·509      |
  |     60     |       10·246       |      8·886      |
  |     65     |       10·665       |      9·249      |
  |     70     |       11·067       |      9·598      |
  |     75     |       11·456       |      9·935      |
  |     80     |       11·832       |     10·260      |
  |     85     |       12·196       |     10·570      |
  |     90     |       12·549       |     10·880      |
  |     95     |       12·893       |     11·180      |
  |    100     |       13·228       |     11·470      |
  |    110     |       13·874       |     12·030      |
  |    120     |       14·490       |     12·560      |
  |    130     |       15·083       |     13·080      |
  |    140     |       15·652       |     13·570      |
  |    150     |       16·201       |     14·220      |
  |    200     |       18·708       |     16·220      |
  |    250     |       20·916       |     18·14       |
  |    300     |       22·912       |     19·87       |
  |    350     |       24·748       |     21·46       |
  |    400     |       26·457       |     22·94       |
  |    450     |       28·062       |     24·30       |
  |    500     |       29·580       |     25·65       |
  |    550     |       31·024       |     26·90       |
  |    600     |       32·403       |     28·10       |
  |    650     |       33·726       |     29·25       |
  |    700     |       35·000       |     30·28       |
  |    800     |       37·416       |     32·45       |
  |    900     |       39·836       |     34·54       |
  |  1,000     |       41·833       |     36·28       |
  +------------+--------------------+-----------------+

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the “Syren and Shipping.”_

LOOKING UP THE LANTERN OF THE NEEDLES LIGHTHOUSE.]

So far as the candle-power of any light is concerned, the method of
determining this factor, varying according to the calculating methods
adopted, is somewhat misleading. So far as Great Britain is concerned,
the practice of setting out the candle-power of any light in the
official list has been abandoned, the authorities merely stating that
such and such a light is of great power. The United States and Canada,
on the other hand, indicate the approximate candle-power.

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Messrs. Chance Bros. & Co., Ltd._

FIXED APPARATUS OF THE FOURTH ORDER FOR SARAWAK.

The focal distance is 250 millimetres, and the diameter of lantern
inside glazing 6 feet 7¾ inches.]

By combining and arranging the integral parts of the optical apparatus,
the lighthouse engineer is able to accomplish many astonishing results.
Thus, while the various types generally follow accepted broad lines,
coinciding with the order which they represent, here and there some
very striking divergences are made. The Bell Rock light is perhaps
the most interesting example in this direction. It was designed by
Messrs. D. and T. Stevenson, and built by Messrs. Chance Brothers
and Co. The light is alternating, the colours being white and red.
Externally the optical apparatus appears to be bizarre, yet it is one
of the most perfect which has ever been installed. In its design and
construction almost all the known lighthouse optical elements are
incorporated, including the equiangular refractor, the reflecting
prism, the double-reflecting prism, and the dioptric mirror. Another
noteworthy fact is that, by an exceedingly ingenious arrangement, the
absorption of the rays by the glass used in producing the red flashes
is neutralized to such a vast degree that the white and red flashes are
of equal intensity.

The subsidiary light is another striking feature which the lighthouse
engineer has introduced. For instance, a light may be shown from a
dangerous reef, and give the mariner all the warning desired. But
some distance away may lurk another isolated rock, which it is just
as imperative to indicate, and yet on which another tower cannot be
erected. This necessity is met by the subsidiary light. A portion
of the light from the main apparatus is deflected and thrown to the
desired spot by an ingenious arrangement of the prisms. On the west
coast of Scotland, at Stornoway, a stream of light used to be deflected
from the lantern in a vertical direction down the tower, and there
bent at right angles, to be thrown through a lower window and fall upon
a prism placed on the crest of a rock several hundred feet distant.
From the deck of a vessel, the effect of the light striking the prism
was akin to that produced by a beacon. Similarly in the case of St.
Catherine’s light in the Isle of Wight: a portion of the light, which
would otherwise be wasted over the area on the landward side, is
carried vertically down the tower by a disposal of lenses and prisms,
and is projected horizontally through a small window, after being
coloured into a red ray by passing through some glass of the desired
tint, to mark a danger spot some distance away. This method, however,
is not favoured now, as the peril can be more efficiently marked by
means of an independent beacon, a system which has become feasible
owing to the vast improvements that have been made in automatic lights
requiring no attention for several weeks or months at a time.

But in those instances where the latter expedient is not adopted, the
practice is to cover the danger with a ray thrown from an entirely
different light. When the present Eddystone tower was completed, a
“low-light room,” as it is called, was incorporated, and a low-powered
light was thrown from two Argand burners and reflectors through a
window to mark a dangerous reef some three miles distant. But perhaps
the best example of a subsidiary light is that which was carried out
by Messrs. Chance in connection with the Cap de Couedie lighthouse. In
this instance two dangers had to be indicated in a subsidiary manner,
one being covered with a red, the other with a green, ray. The red
sector marks a danger spot known as Lipson’s Reef, lying 8¾ miles
distant, while the green light indicates Casuarina Island, 1¾ miles
away. This installation, it may be pointed out, has proved highly
successful, and certainly is very economical.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.--THE MEANS WHEREBY THE RAYS ARE DEFLECTED FROM
THE MAIN LIGHT TO FORM A SUBSIDIARY LIGHT.

(_By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. and Co., Ltd._)]

There is another point which deserves mention--the duration of the
flash in a revolving light. There was considerable discussion and
difference of opinion upon this question some years ago. It was
maintained that the shorter the duration of the flash, and the more
rapidly it were thrown, the better it would be for the mariner. The
Scottish engineers realized the significance of this problem, and,
despite the hostile criticism of contemporary engineers, adopted a
specific principle which was to give a flash of two and three-quarter
seconds’ duration. Subsequently it was reduced to one second. The
introduction of the mercury float enabled the optical apparatus to be
revolved faster, and also facilitated the reduction in the number of
panels or faces, so that ultimately the Scottish engineers reduced the
flash to one of four-tenths of a second.

When Mr. Bourdelles devised the mercury float which enabled rotation to
be accelerated, the French authorities rushed to the opposite extreme.
They reduced the faces to four, and arranged for the apparatus to
be revolved at a high speed, so that the duration of the flash was
only one-tenth of a second at rapidly-recurring intervals. This type
of light was called the _feu-éclair_, and was adopted as a result
of prolonged laboratory investigation. But this was an instance
where laboratory experiments and scientific reasoning failed to go
hand in glove with practical experience and navigation, where the
mariner has to contend with all sorts and conditions of weather. The
seafarer expressed his opinion of the one-tenth of a second flash
in uncomplimentary terms, displaying an indifferent appreciation of
artificially-produced sheet-lightning.

Eventually there was a general agreement, among all those countries
which had investigated the problem closely, that a flash of about
three-tenths of a second was the most satisfactory, and this has
since become tacitly standardized. The French authorities recognized
the fallacy of their idea, and soon came into line with the other
countries.



CHAPTER IV

FOG-SIGNALS


Notwithstanding the wonderful ingenuity that is displayed in the
concentration of light into powerful beams, these all count for nothing
when fog settles upon the sea. The ray of 1,000,000 candle-power is
almost as futile then as the glimmer from a tallow dip.

Fog is the peril of the sea which the mariner dreads more than any
other. The blanket of mist, descending upon the water, not only shuts
everything from sight, but deadens every sound as well. The sea is
absolutely calm, so that no intimation of danger ahead is conveyed by
the breaking of the waves upon rock, shoal, sandbank, or iron-bound
coast.

It is in times of fog that the navigator must be given the greatest
protection. As this is impossible to accomplish visually, appeal must
be made to his ear. In the early days of lighthouse engineering the
methods of conveying audible warning were very crude. The discharge
of a gun was the most popular, but it was neither serviceable nor
reliable, and was made upon somewhat haphazard lines. Thus, in the
case of a dangerous headland on the North American coast, which the
Boston steamer had to round on its journey, the keepers mounted guard
at the probable time of the vessel’s arrival off this point. They
listened eagerly for the steamer’s whistle, and when it came screaming
over the water they began hurriedly firing a carronade, keeping up
the blank-cartridge bombardment until another shriek told them that
those on the vessel had heard their signals. Sometimes the whistle
was heard from a distance of six miles; at others from not more than
two miles away. It depended upon circumstances. Obviously, such a
primitive system was attended with considerable danger, as an accident
was liable to happen to the men in their feverish haste to load and
discharge the gun, while the plight of the boat was far from being
enviable at times.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of Messrs. Chance Bros. & Co., Ltd._

A MODERN LIGHTHOUSE SIREN PLANT.

Showing gas engines and air-compressors in duplicate, with siren at
side.]

In the early days every lighthouse tower was provided with a heavy
bell. Indeed, the ponderous dome of metal projecting from the lantern
gallery was considered indispensable. The bell varied in weight from
1,200 to 2,240 pounds, was fitted with a massive clapper, and when
struck emitted a deep musical note. In order to enable the seafarer
to gain some idea of his whereabouts, the fog-signals were given a
sound-characteristic somewhat upon the lines of those in connection
with the light. Thus, one lighthouse would give one stroke every ten
seconds; another would give two strokes in quick succession, followed
by a long silence, and so on. This system suffers from the severe
handicap that the sound does not travel very far during foggy weather.

Another ingenious engineer recommended the utilization of the
locomotive whistle, giving a high-toned, ear-piercing shriek, but
the same objection as attended the use of the bell prevailed: the
sound could not be heard more than a short distance away. The British
lighthouse authorities submitted the idea to a series of searching
investigations to ascertain its possibilities, but eventually were
compelled to conclude that it was not superior to, if as good as, the
other systems then in vogue. The United States authorities, as a result
of their independent experiments, expressed a similar opinion; but in
Canada practical application gave this whistle a favourable verdict.

Rockets also have been adopted, and are highly successful. Indeed, this
method of conveying audible warning prevails still in many countries.
The practicability of such a means of throwing sound over a wide area
was advanced by Sir Richard Collinson, when Deputy-Master of Trinity
House, and his idea comprised the insertion of a gun-cotton charge,
timed to explode at a given height, in the head of the rocket. The
height could be varied up to about 1,000 feet, and the weight of
the charge fluctuated according to requirements. The rocket system
was tested very severely, and in some instances the report was heard
as many as twenty-five miles away. It received the approbation of
Professor Tyndall, and, although superior methods of signalling have
been devised since, there remain one or two lighthouse stations where
it is considered to be the most satisfactory fog-signalling device,
notably the station on the island of Heligoland, where the rocket is
hurled into the air to explode at a height of nearly 700 feet.

In many lighthouses the detonation of gun-cotton constitutes the means
of conveying warning to passing vessels, but is accomplished in a
different manner. The charge, instead of being sent into the air to
be exploded, is attached to a special device which is supported upon
a simple frame at a point above the lantern, so that no damage may
be inflicted upon the glass of the latter from the concussion. The
apparatus is fitted with a safety device which prevents premature
explosion, so that the keeper is preserved from personal injury, and,
unless culpable negligence is manifested, the charge cannot be ignited
until it has been raised to its designed position. The report is of
great volume, and as a rule can be heard a considerable distance; but
in this, as in all other cases, the atmosphere plays many strange
tricks. Still, it has not been superseded yet for isolated sea-rock
lighthouses, such as the Eddystone, Skerryvore, and Bell Rock, where
there is lack of adequate space for the installation of any other
equally efficient fog-signalling facilities.

[Illustration:

            _Photo, Paul, Penzance._

THE SIRENS OF THE LIZARD.

Owing to the importance of the Lizard Station and the fact that the
coast often is obscured by fog, a powerful fog-signalling station is
imperative.]

In the early seventies an American investigator, Mr. C. L. Daboll,
contrived an entirely new system, which developed into the foundation
of one of the most successful fog-signalling devices for lighthouses
which has been discovered--the siren. The Daboll invention was a huge
trumpet, recalling a mammoth phonograph horn. It was 17 feet in length,
and its mouth was 38 inches in diameter. In the lower end of this
trumpet--the throat--was placed a tongue of steel measuring 10 inches
in length and secured at one end to form a reed. It was blown by air
compressed in a reservoir to the desired degree, and then permitted to
escape through the trumpet. The mad rush of the expanding air through
the constricted passage set the reed vibrating violently, causing the
emission of a penetrating, discordant bellow. When Daboll commenced his
experiments, he suffered from the lack of a suitable mechanical means
for compressing the air, and made shift with a donkey for this purpose
until the hot-air engine was improved, when the latter was substituted.

Trinity House adopted the idea and found it serviceable; but the
Canadian authorities, after four years’ experiment, dissented from this
view, remarking that the trumpet was expensive to maintain, unreliable
in working, and liable to break down when most urgently needed. In
fact, they characterized the Daboll trumpets which they had installed
as “sources of danger instead of aids to navigation.”

From the trumpet to the siren was not a very big step. The history
of the latter’s invention is somewhat obscure, but it was brought
before the United States Government in a primitive form. The American
engineers, recognizing its latent possibilities, took it up, and
endeavoured to improve it to such a degree as to render it suitable
for lighthouse work. Their efforts were only partially successful.
The solution of the many difficulties attending its perfection
was effected in Great Britain by Professor Frederick Hale Holmes,
whose magneto-electric machine brought electricity within reach
of the lighthouse as an illuminant, and it was due to the efforts
of this scientist that the siren became one of the most efficient
sound-producing instruments which have been discovered for this class
of work.

The reason that made Professor Holmes bring his energies and knowledge
to bear upon this subject was somewhat curious. The siren in its
first form made its way from the United States to Great Britain. The
British Admiralty realized the power and penetration of its sound,
and forthwith adopted it in the navy, operating it by steam instead
of by air. At this there arose a great outcry from the mercantile
marine. Captains argued that the similarity of the signals confused
and often misled them, as they could not tell in the fog whether the
sound proceeded from a warship or a lighthouse. The Board of Trade was
forced to intervene, but, as it had no jurisdiction over the Admiralty,
it sought to extricate itself from an awkward situation by inviting
Professor Holmes to perfect a siren which would emit a distinctive
sound. His efforts were crowned with complete success.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--THE FIXED (A) AND REVOLVING (B) PARTS OF THE
SIREN.]

Professor Holmes exhibited his wonderful device at the Paris Exhibition
of 1867. He installed it in working order, and the visitors displayed
an anxiety to hear it. It was brought into action, and those around
never forgot the experience. It was the most diabolical ear-splitting
noise which had been heard, and, apprehensive that serious results
might arise from its demonstration when the buildings were thronged
with sight-seers, the authorities refused to permit it to be sounded
again. The humorous illustrated papers did not suffer such a golden
opportunity to escape. Grotesque and laughable cartoons appeared
depicting the curious effects produced by the blast of the instrument,
one showing the various statues being frightened off their pedestals
proving exceptionally popular.

The siren in its simplest form is an enlarged edition of the “Deviline”
toy whistle. There is a Daboll trumpet with a small throat, in which
is placed horizontally, not a reed, but a metal disc, so as to fill
the whole circular space of the throat. The sheet of metal is pierced
with a number of radial slits. Behind this disc is a second plate of
a similar character, and likewise pierced with radial slits of the
same size, shape and number; but whereas the first disc is fixed, the
second is mounted on a spindle. The free disc rotates at high speed,
so that the twelve jets of air which are driven through the throat are
interrupted intermittently by the blanks of the revolving disc coming
over the openings in the fixed disc, while when the two slits are in
line the air has a free passage. If the revolving disc completes 3,000
revolutions per minute, and there are twelve slits in the discs, then a
total of 36,000 vibrations per minute is produced while the instrument
is in operation. The speed of the revolving disc, as well as the number
and size of the openings, varies according to the size and class of the
siren; but in any case an intensely powerful, dense and penetrating
musical tone is emitted, which can be heard a considerable distance
away. The blast of a high-powered large siren has been heard at a
distance of twenty to thirty miles in clear weather, though of course
in thick weather its range is reduced.

While Professor Holmes was experimenting with this device, another
investigator, Mr. Slight, of Trinity House, was wrestling with the same
problem. Indeed, he may be described as the inventor of the modern
siren. Although he effected only an apparently slight modification,
it was the touch which rendered the instrument perfect, while it also
removed the possibility of a breakdown at a critical moment, as he
rendered the moving part freer in its working and eliminated the severe
strains to which it was subjected. The improvement was appreciated by
Professor Holmes, who adopted it immediately.

While these indefatigable efforts were in progress, ingenious attempts
were made to press Nature herself into operation. As is well known,
there are many “blowing-holes” distributed throughout the world, where
the water by erosion has produced a long, narrow cavern in the base
of a rock, with a constricted outlet into the outer air. The waves,
rushing into the cave, compress the air within, which, in its escape at
high velocity through the small vent, produces a bellowing sound. It
was this curious phenomenon which gave the Wolf Rock its name. General
Hartmann Bache, of the United States Engineers, attempted in 1858 to
make use of a blowing-hole on one of the Farallon Isles, lying forty
miles off the entrance to San Francisco Bay. A chimney was built with
bricks above the orifice, through which the air compressed by the waves
below made its escape, and on top of this shaft a locomotive whistle
was placed. The first effort was a dead failure, because the force of
the rush of air was so great that it carried away the chimney; but in
the second attempt success was achieved, and an excellent automatic
whistle blared out night and day almost continuously and was audible
for some distance out to sea. The only drawback was that in foggy
weather, when the most intense sound was required, the signal was dumb
owing to the smoothness of the water. This novel signal was maintained
for some time and then was superseded by a powerful siren.

One of the most interesting fog-signalling installations in service is
that on the bald formidable hump of rock lying in the estuary of the
Clyde, known as Ailsa Craig. For years this rock constituted a terrible
menace to the crowded shipping of this important marine thoroughfare,
and its victims were numerous. While the Commissioners of Northern
Lighthouses mitigated its terrors as far as possible by the provision
of a powerful light, they recognized the fact that a visual warning
did not meet the situation completely. But the installation of a
fog-signal was a somewhat peculiar problem, owing to the configuration
of the rock. A single station would not meet requirements, because it
was necessary to throw the warning from both sides of the obstruction.
The provision of two sound-stations would have been an expensive
matter, even if it had been feasible, which it was not, owing to the
precipitous nature of the cliffs.

An ingenious solution was advanced by Mr. Charles Ingrey, C.E. He
proposed to erect a central power-station and to control the sounding
of two sirens, placed on opposite sides of the island, therefrom,
the compressed air being led through underground piping. The plans
were submitted to Messrs. Stevenson, the engineers to the Northern
Lighthouse Board, who, after examining the proposal thoroughly, gave
it their approval. But when it came to obtaining the sanction for
the requisite expenditure from the Board of Trade, that august body,
despite the fact that the project had been investigated and had
received the approbation of the engineers to the Northern Lighthouse
Commissioners, declined to permit public money to be expended upon
an untried scheme. Such is the way in which pioneering effort and
ingenuity are stifled by Government departments.

[Illustration: THE ACETYLENE FOG-GUN.

The latest ingenious device for giving both audible and visual warning
automatically.]

Many another engineer would have abandoned the project after such
a rebuff, but Mr. Ingrey without any delay laid down a complete
installation upon the lines he contemplated on the island of Pladda,
where a Holmes fog-horn was in service. With the aid of a workman
whom he took from Glasgow, the light-keepers and some farm labourers,
this trial installation was completed, the piping being carried round
the island from the air-compressing plant to the fog-signal. The
work occupied about a fortnight, and then, everything being ready to
convince the sceptical Board of Trade, the inspecting engineers were
treated to a comprehensive and conclusive demonstration. They were
satisfied with what they saw, appreciated the reliability of the idea
and gave the requisite sanction. Forthwith the Ailsa Craig Island
installation was put in hand and duly completed.

This plant possesses many ingenious features. As the light is derived
from gas distilled from crude oil, a small gas-making plant is
installed on the island, and this is used also for driving a battery
of five eight-horse-power gas-engines--four are used at a time, the
fifth being in reserve--to supply the thirty-horse-power demanded to
operate the fog-signal. The energy thus developed drives two sets of
powerful air-compressors, the four cylinders of which have a bore
of 10 inches by a stroke of 20 inches, the air being compressed to 80
pounds per square inch and stored in two large air-receivers which hold
194 cubic feet. From this reservoir pipes buried in a trench excavated
from the solid rock extend to the two trumpets, placed on the north
and south sides of the island respectively. The length of piping on
the north side is 3,400 feet, and on the south side 2,500 feet. At
places where the pipe makes a dip, owing to the configuration of the
rock, facilities are provided to draw off any water which may collect.
Extreme care had to be displayed in connecting the lengths of piping,
so that there might be no leakage, in which event, of course, the
pressure of the air would drop and thereby incapacitate the signal.

[Illustration: THE RATTRAY HEAD LIGHTHOUSE.

A very exposed Scottish rock tower. It is unique because a full-powered
siren fog-signal is installed therein.]

Each signal is mounted in a domed house built of concrete, the mouth
of the trumpet extending from the crown of the roof. Within the house
is an air-receiver 9 feet in height by 4½ feet in diameter, of about
140 cubic feet capacity, which receives the compressed air transmitted
through the piping from the compressing-station. It also contains
the automatic apparatus whereby the signal is brought into action
at the stipulated intervals, so as to produce the requisite sound
characteristic. This is a self-winding clockwork mechanism which admits
and cuts off the supply of air to the trumpets, its chief feature
being that the clock is wound up by the compressed air itself, so that
it is entirely free from human control. However, as a breakdown even
with the best-designed and most-carefully-tended machinery cannot be
circumvented entirely, there is a duplicate electrical mechanism,
also automatically controlled from the power-generating station, the
electric cables for which are laid in the pipe trenches. This acts as
an emergency control.

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Messrs. D. and C. Stevenson._

SULE SKERRY LIGHT.

A lonely light of Scotland. The nearest land is the Butt of Lewis, 30
miles distant.]

The two signals are not sounded simultaneously; neither are they
alike nor of the same tone. The north signal gives a single blast of
high tone, lasting five seconds, and then is silent for 175 seconds.
On the south side the siren gives a double note, although there are
three blasts--viz., high, low, high--corresponding to the letter R of
the Morse code. The notes are sounded for two seconds, with similar
intervening periods of silence, and silence for 170 seconds between
the groups. The complete signal from the two stations is given once
in three minutes, the north signal commencing to sound ninety seconds
after the south signal has ceased. The high note corresponds to the
fourth E in the musical compass, there being 38,400 vibrations per
minute; while the low note is tuned to the third D in the musical
compass, with 16,800 vibrations per minute. The notes are purposely
timed more than an octave apart and made discordant, as thereby
the sound is more likely to attract attention and to be readily
distinguished.

About eighteen minutes are required to bring the apparatus into
operation--that is, to start compressing and to raise the pressure of
the air to the requisite degree--but, as fogs descend upon the Clyde
with startling suddenness, the signals may be started within five
minutes of the fog-alarm. The air-reservoirs are kept charged to the
working pressure, the machinery being run once or twice for a short
time every week for this purpose and to keep the plant in working order.

Up to this time it had been the practice to place the siren in close
proximity to the air-compressing machinery, but the installation at
Ailsa Craig proves conclusively that this is not essential to success;
also it demonstrates the fact that a number of signals can be operated
reliably and effectively from a central station. Indeed, this Scottish
plant aroused such widespread interest that the Pulsometer Engineering
Company of Reading, who had acquired Professor Holmes’s patents and who
carried out the above installation, received several inquiries from
abroad with regard to its suitability for similar situations. In one
instance the compressed air was to be transmitted for a distance of
nearly four miles.

While the siren has been adopted and found adequate by the majority
of nations, the Canadian Government has installed a far more powerful
instrument upon the River St. Lawrence, as the ordinary siren signals
originally established near the mouth of the river, although of
great power, were found to be inadequate. The new apparatus, which
is known as the “diaphone,” gives an extraordinarily powerful sound.
It comprises a cylindrical chamber, in the walls of which are cut a
number of parallel slits. Concentrically disposed within the chamber
is a cylindrical hollow piston, with similar slits and a flange at one
end, the whole being enclosed in an outer casing. Air under pressure
is admitted into the outer casing, and drives the piston backwards and
forwards with great rapidity. The result is that the air effects its
escape through the orifices, when they come into line, in intermittent
puffs.

While the broad principle is not unlike that of the conventional
siren, the main difference is that in the latter there is a rotary
motion, whereas in the diaphone the action is reciprocating. The great
advantage of the latter is that all the vibrations are synchronous,
owing to the symmetrical disposition of the slits, and consequently
the note produced is very pure. The mechanism is so devised that the
piston’s motion is controlled to a nicety, and the sound is constant.
Experience has proved that the best results are obtained by using air
at a pressure of 30 pounds per square inch. The sound thus produced
is intensified to a markedly greater degree by means of a resonator
properly attuned.

This instrument has displaced the siren among the stations upon the St.
Lawrence River. The general type of apparatus has a piston 4½ inches
in diameter, and uses 11 pounds of air per second during the sounding
of the blast. But at more important stations a far larger and more
powerful class of apparatus is used, the diaphone at Cape Race having a
piston 8½ inches in diameter and using 27 feet of air per second while
sounding. This does not indicate the limit of size, however, since the
builders of this terrible noise-producer are experimenting with an
apparatus having a piston 14 inches in diameter. The sound issuing from
such a huge apparatus would be almost as deafening as the report of a
big gun and should succeed in warning a mariner several miles away.

The atmosphere, however, plays many strange pranks with the most
powerful sound-producing instruments. To-day, for instance, a
fog-signal may be heard at a distance of ten miles; to-morrow it will
fail to be audible more than a mile away. This aberration of sound is
extraordinary and constitutes one of the unsolved problems of science.
Innumerable investigations have been made with the object of finding
the cause of this erratic action, but no conclusive explanation has
been forthcoming. Another strange trick is that, while a sound may be
audible at distances of two and four miles during a fog, it fails to
strike the ear at three miles. It is as if the sound struck the water
at a range of two miles, bounded high into the air, and again fell upon
the water at four miles, giving a second leap to hit the water again
farther on, in much the same way as a thin flat stone, when thrown
horizontally into the water, will hop, skip, and jump over the surface.
This trick renders the task of the lighthouse engineer additionally
exasperating and taxes his ingenuity to the utmost, as it appears to
baffle completely any attempt towards its elimination.

Recently another ingenious and novel system has been perfected by
Messrs. D. and C. Stevenson. This is an acetylene gun which acts
automatically. Hitherto an unattended fog-signal--except the bell-buoy
tolled by the movement of the waves, which is far from satisfactory,
or the whistling buoy, which is operated upon the same lines and is
equally ineffective except at very short range--has found little
favour. The objections to the bell and whistle buoys are the faintness
of the sounds, which may be drowned by the noises produced on the ship
herself; while, if the wind is blowing away from the vessel, she may
pass within a few feet of the signal, yet outside its range. Thus it
will be recognized that the fog-gun serves to fill a very important gap
in connection with the warning of seafarers during thick weather.

As is well known, even a small charge of acetylene, when fired, will
produce a loud report, and this characteristic of the gas induced
Messrs. Stevenson to apply it to a fog-signal. They have developed
the automatic acetylene system of lighting to a very high degree
around the coasts of Scotland, and there are now more than twenty
lights of this class, mostly unattended, in operation, some of which
have been established for many years. These lights have proved highly
satisfactory. There has never been an accident, a freedom which is due
to the fact that Moye’s system is used, wherein the possibilities of
mishap are surmounted very effectively. Accordingly, the engineers saw
no reason why a similar system should not be adapted to the emission of
sound instead of light signals, or, if desired, of both simultaneously.
Their experiments have been crowned with complete success, and, as the
gun uses no more gas than would be consumed if a flashing light system
were used, the cost of operation is very low.

The general features of the acetylene fog-gun may be observed from the
illustration (facing p. 64). The acetylene, dissolved in acetone, is
contained under pressure in a cylinder, and thence passes through a
reducing valve to an annular space, where it is ignited by an electric
spark. A trumpet is attached to the firing chamber, so that the sound
becomes intensified. If desired, the explosion can be effected at the
burner, so that, in addition to a sound-signal, a flashing light is
given.

The applications vary according to the circumstances. Suppose there is
an unlighted bell-buoy at the bar of a port. Here the procedure is to
install a gun and light combined, so that the flash of the explosion
may give visual and the report audible warning. Or, should there be a
lighted buoy already in position, its effectiveness may be enhanced
by adding the gun, the detonation alone being employed for warning
purposes. The size of the cylinder containing the dissolved acetylene
may be varied, so that renewal need only be carried out once in one,
two, or more months, according to conditions. If the increasing traffic
around a certain rock demand that the latter should be marked, a
combined sound and light apparatus can be installed. It may be that the
head of a pier which is accessible only at certain times, or a beacon
which can be reached only at rare intervals, may require improved
facilities. In this case the gun can be set up and a cable laid to a
convenient spot which may be approached at all times by an attendant.
Then the latter, by the movement of a switch, can bring the gun
instantly into action upon the alarm of fog, and it will keep firing at
the set intervals until, the fog lifting, the gun is switched off.

In some cases, where the apparatus is set upon a lonely rock,
a submarine cable may be laid between the marked point and the
control-station. The cable is not a very costly addition. There are
many lights where wages have to be paid merely for a man to bring the
fog-signalling bell machinery into action. In such cases a fog-gun can
be installed and the annual cost of maintenance decreased enormously,
thereby enabling the outlay on the gun to be recouped within a very
short time; while the light may be improved by using the flashes, so
that the warning can be rendered more distinctive.

The invention is also applicable to lightships, many of which are
manned by four men or more at a large cost per annum. In the majority
of cases an unattended Stevenson lightship--such as described in
another chapter, six of which are in use around the coasts of Scotland,
and which give, not only a first-class light, but, by the aid of
the fog-signal gun, can be made to give an excellent fog-signal as
well--offers a means of reducing the heavy maintenance charges arising
in connection with a manned light-vessel. In many instances existing
lightships can be converted to the automatic system and completed by
the gun. Each case must, of course, be decided upon its merits as
regards the time the gun and light are required to work upon a single
charge of acetylene, but there are no insuperable obstacles to its
utilization.

Of course, in an isolated station lying perhaps some miles off the
mainland, it may be necessary to keep the gun going night and day in
fog and in clear weather alike. In this case, naturally, the great
number of explosions involves considerable expense; but the inventors
are carrying out experiments with a view to switching the gun on and
off, as required, from a distant point by means of wireless telegraphy,
so as to effect a saving in the expenditure of acetylene when there is
no need on account of fine weather to keep the gun going. Still, it
must not be supposed that the detonations even during clear weather
are altogether abortive, inasmuch as a sound-signal at sea, where
the atmosphere has a long-distance-carrying capacity as a rule, in
conjunction with a light, draws double attention to a danger spot.
Under such circumstances the waste of acetylene gas during periods of
clear weather is more apparent than real.

The contest against the elements is still being waged, and slowly but
surely engineering science is improving its position, and is hopeful of
rendering audible signals as completely effective as those of a visual
character.



CHAPTER V

THE EDDYSTONE LIGHTHOUSE


It is doubtful whether the name of any lighthouse is so familiar
throughout the English-speaking world as the “Eddystone.” Certainly
no other “pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day,” can offer so
romantic a story of dogged engineering perseverance, of heartrending
disappointments, disaster, blasted hopes, and brilliant success.

Standing out in the English Channel, about sixty miles east of the
Lizard, is a straggling ridge of rocks which stretches for hundreds of
yards across the marine thoroughfare, and also obstructs the western
approach to Plymouth Harbour. But at a point some nine and a half miles
south of Rame Head, on the mainland, the reef rises somewhat abruptly
to the surface, so that at low-water two or three ugly granite knots
are bared, which tell only too poignantly the complete destruction
they could wreak upon a vessel which had the temerity or the ill luck
to scrape over them at high-tide. Even in the calmest weather the
sea curls and eddies viciously around these stones; hence the name
“Eddystones” is derived.

From the days when trading vessels first used the English Channel the
reef has been a spot of evil fame. How many ships escaped the perils
and dangers of the seven seas only to come to grief on this ridge
within sight of home, or how many lives have been lost upon it, will
never be known. Only the more staggering holocausts, such as the wreck
of the _Winchelsea_, stand out prominently in the annals of history,
but these serve to emphasize the terrible character of the menace
offered. The port of Plymouth, as may be supposed, suffered with
especial severity.

As British overseas traffic expanded, the idea of indicating the
spot for the benefit of vessels was discussed. The first practical
suggestion was put forward about the year 1664, but thirty-two years
elapsed before any attempt was made to reduce theory to practice.
Then an eccentric English country gentleman, Henry Winstanley, who
dabbled in mechanical engineering upon unorthodox lines, came forward
and offered to build a lighthouse upon the terrible rock. Those who
knew this ambitious amateur were dubious of his success, and wondered
what manifestation his eccentricity would assume on this occasion. Nor
was their scepticism entirely misplaced. Winstanley raised the most
fantastic lighthouse which has ever been known, and which would have
been more at home in a Chinese cemetery than in the English Channel.
It was wrought in wood and most lavishly embellished with carvings and
gilding.

Four years were occupied in its construction, and the tower was
anchored to the rock by means of long, heavy irons. The light, merely
a flicker, flashed out from this tower in 1699 and for the first time
the proximity of the Eddystones was indicated all round the horizon
by night. Winstanley’s critics were rather free in expressing their
opinion that the tower would come down with the first sou’-wester, but
the eccentric builder was so intensely proud of his achievement as to
venture the statement that it would resist the fiercest gale that ever
blew, and, when such did occur, he hoped that he might be in the tower
at the time.

Fate gratified his wish, for while he was on the rock in the year 1703
one of the most terrible tempests that ever have assailed the coasts
of Britain gripped the structure, tore it up by the roots, and hurled
it into the Channel, where it was battered to pieces, its designer
and five keepers going down with the wreck. When the inhabitants of
Plymouth, having vainly scanned the horizon for a sign of the tower on
the following morning, put off to the rock to investigate, they found
only the bent and twisted iron rods by which the tower had been held in
position projecting mournfully into the air from the rock-face.

Shortly after the demolition of the tower, the reef, as if enraged at
having been denied a number of victims owing to the existence of the
warning light, trapped the _Winchelsea_ as she was swinging up Channel,
and smashed her to atoms, with enormous loss of life.

Although the first attempt to conquer the Eddystone had terminated so
disastrously, it was not long before another effort was made to mark
the reef. The builder this time was a Cornish labourer’s son, John
Rudyerd, who had established himself in business on Ludgate Hill as a
silk-mercer. In his youth he had studied civil engineering, but his
friends had small opinion of his abilities in this craft. However,
he attacked the problem boldly, and, although his tower was a plain,
business-looking structure, it would have been impossible to conceive
a design capable of meeting the peculiar requirements of the situation
more efficiently. It was a cone, wrought in timber, built upon a stone
and wood foundation anchored to the rock, and of great weight and
strength. The top of the cone was cut off to permit the lantern to be
set in position. The result was that externally the tower resembled
the trunk of an oak-tree, and appeared to be just about as strong. It
offered the minimum of resistance to the waves, which, tumbling upon
the ledge, rose and curled around the tapering form without starting a
timber.

Rudyerd, indeed, may be considered to be the father of the science of
modern lighthouse designing, because the lines that he evolved have
never been superseded for exposed positions even in these days of
advanced engineering science, greater constructional facilities, and
improved materials. Rudyerd’s ingenuity and skill received a triumphant
vindication when the American engineers set out to build the Minot’s
Ledge and Spectacle Reef lighthouses, inasmuch as these men followed
slavishly in the lines he laid down, and their achievements are
numbered among the great lighthouses of the world to-day.

Rudyerd built his tower with infinite care, although he was harassed in
his operations by the depredations of French privateers, who haunted
this part of the British coast. On one occasion the whole of the men
were surprised while at their work, and were borne off in triumph as
prisoners of war to France. Louis XIV., however, heard of the capture,
and the privateers, instead of being honoured for the catch, as they
anticipated, were strongly reprimanded and compelled to release their
captures. “Their work is for the benefit of all nations. I am at war
with England, not with humanity,” was the Sovereign’s comment; and
by way of compensation the prisoners were loaded with presents and
reconveyed to the rock, to resume their toil.

For forty years Rudyerd’s structure defied the elements, and probably
would have been standing to this day had it not possessed one weak
point. It was built of wood instead of stone. Consequently, when a fire
broke out in the lantern on December 4, 1755, the flames, fanned by the
breeze, rapidly made their way downwards. The keepers were impotent and
sought what refuge they could find under projecting crags below, as
the lead which had been employed in construction melted into drops and
rained down on all sides, so that the unfortunate men were exposed to
another and more alarming danger. In fact, one man, while watching the
progress of the fire, was drenched with a shower of molten metal, some
of which, he declared, had entered his open mouth and had penetrated
into his stomach. When rescued he was writhing in fearful agony, but
his story was received with incredulity, his comrades believing that
the experience had turned his brain and that this was merely one of his
delusions. When the man died, a post-mortem examination was made, and
the doctors discovered ample corroboration of the man’s story in the
form of a lump of lead weighing some seven ounces!

No time was lost in erecting another tower on the rock, for now
it was more imperative than ever that the reef should be lighted
adequately. The third engineer was John Smeaton, who first landed on
the rock to make the surveys on April 5, 1756. He was able to stay
there for only two and a quarter hours before the rising tide drove
him off, but in that brief period he had completed the work necessary
to the preparation of his design. Wood had succumbed to the attacks
of tempest and of fire in turn. He would use a material which would
defy both--Portland stone. He also introduced a slight change in the
design for such structures, and one which has been universally copied,
producing the graceful form of lighthouse with which everyone is so
familiar. Instead of causing the sides to slope upwards in the straight
lines of a cone, such as Rudyerd adopted, Smeaton preferred a slightly
concave curve, so that the tower was given a waist at about half its
height. He also selected the oak-tree as his guide, but one having an
extensive spread of branches, wherein will be found a shape in the
trunk, so far as the broad lines are concerned, which coincides with
the form of Smeaton’s lighthouse. He chose a foundation where the rock
shelved gradually to its highest point, and dropped vertically into the
water upon the opposite side. The face of the rock was roughly trimmed
to permit the foundation-stones of the tower to be laid. The base of
the building was perfectly solid to the entrance level, and each stone
was dovetailed securely into its neighbour.

[Illustration:

            _Photo, Paul, Penzance._

THE EDDYSTONE, THE MOST FAMOUS LIGHTHOUSE OF ENGLAND.

To the right is the stump of Smeaton’s historic tower.]

From the entrance, which was about 15 feet above high-water, a central
well, some 5 feet in diameter, containing a staircase, led to the
storeroom, nearly 30 feet above high-water. Above this was a second
storeroom, a living-room as the third floor, and the bedroom beneath
the lantern. The light was placed about 72 feet above high-water,
and comprised a candelabra having two rings, one smaller than, and
placed within, the other, but raised about a foot above its level, the
two being held firmly in position by means of chains suspended from
the roof and secured to the floor. The rings were adapted to receive
twenty-four lights, each candle weighing about 2¾ ounces. Even candle
manufacture was in its infancy in those days, and periodically the
keepers had to enter the lantern to snuff the wicks. In order to keep
the watchers of the lights on the alert, Smeaton installed a clock of
the grandfather pattern in the tower, and fitted it with a gong,
which struck every half-hour to apprise the men of these duties. This
clock is now one of the most interesting relics in the museum at
Trinity House.

The first stone of the tower was laid on a Sunday in June, 1757, as
the date on the block indicates; and although work had to be pursued
fitfully and for only a few hours at a time between the tides, in the
early stages, Smeaton seized every opportunity offered by the wind
and sea to push the task forward. For four years the men slaved upon
the rock, and, although the mechanical handling appliances of those
days were primitive, the tower was completed without a single mishap.
The solidity of the structure, and its lines, which, as the engineer
stated, would offer the minimum of resistance to the Atlantic rollers,
but at the same time would insure the utmost stability, aroused
widespread admiration, for it was felt that the engineer had triumphed
over Nature at last. Many people expressed a desire to see how the
tower would weather such a storm as carried away Winstanley’s freakish
building, especially as, in a roaring sou’-wester, the waves hurled
themselves upon the ledge to wreathe and curl upwards to a point far
above the dome, blotting the light from sight. The supreme test came
in 1762, when the lighthouse was subjected to a battering and pounding
far heavier than any that it had previously known. But the tower
emerged from this ordeal unscathed, and Smeaton’s work was accepted as
invulnerable.

[Illustration:

            _Photo, Paul, Penzance._

A THRILLING EXPERIENCE.

Landing upon the Eddystone by the crane rope during a rough sea.]

The lighthouse had been standing for 120 years, when ominous reports
were received by the Trinity Brethren concerning the stability of the
tower. The keepers stated that during severe storms the building shook
alarmingly. A minute inspection of the structure was made, and it was
found that, although the work of Smeaton’s masons was above reproach,
time and weather had left their mark. The tower was becoming decrepit.
The binding cement had decayed, and the air imprisoned and compressed
within the interstices by the waves was disintegrating the structure
slowly but surely. While there was no occasion to apprehend a sudden
collapse, still it was considered advisable to take precautionary
measures in time. Unfortunately, it was not feasible to strengthen
Smeaton’s tower so adequately as to give it a new lease of life, while
lighthouse engineering had made rapid strides in certain details since
it was completed. Another factor to be considered was the desire for a
more elevated light, capable of throwing its rays to a greater distance.

Under these circumstances it was decided to build a new tower on
another convenient ledge, forming part of the main reef, about 120 feet
distant. Sir James Douglass, the Engineer-in-Chief to Trinity House,
completed the designs and personally superintended their execution.
The Smeaton lines were taken as a basis, with one important exception.
Instead of the curve commencing at the foundations, the latter
comprised a perfect cylindrical monolith of masonry 22 feet in height
by 44 feet in diameter. From this base the tower springs to a height
which brings the focal plane 130 feet above the highest spring-tides.
The top of the base is 30 inches above high-water, and the tower’s
diameter at this point being less than that of its plinth, the set-off
forms an excellent landing-stage when the weather permits.

The site selected for the Douglass tower being lower than that chosen
by Smeaton, the initial work was more exacting, as the duration
of the working period was reduced. The rock, being gneiss, was
extremely tough, and the preliminary quarrying operations for the
foundation-stones which had to be sunk into the rock were tedious and
difficult, especially as the working area was limited. Each stone was
dovetailed, not only to its neighbour on either side, but below and
above as well. The foundation-stones were dovetailed into the reef,
and were secured still further by the aid of two bolts, each 1½ inches
in diameter, which were passed through the stone and sunk deeply into
the rock below. The exposed position of the reef enabled work to be
continued only fitfully during the calmest weather, for often when wind
and sea were quiet the rock was inaccessible owing to the swell. Upon
the approach of bad weather everything was made fast under the direct
supervision of the engineer--a man who took no chances.

From the set-off the tower is solid to a height of 25½ feet, except
for two fresh-water tanks sunk in the floor of the entrance-room,
which hold 4,700 gallons. At this point the walls are no less than
8½ feet thick, and the heavy teak door is protected by an outer door
of gun-metal, weighing a ton, both of which are closed during rough
weather.

The tower has eight floors, exclusive of the entrance; there are two
oilrooms, one above the other, holding 4,300 gallons of oil, above
which is a coal and store room, followed by a second storeroom. Outside
the tower at this level is a crane, by which supplies are hoisted, and
which also facilitates the landing and embarkation of the keepers, who
are swung through the air in a stirrup attached to the crane rope.
Then in turn come the living-room, the “low-light” room, bedroom,
service-room, and finally the lantern. For the erection of the tower,
2,171 blocks of granite, which were previously fitted temporarily in
their respective positions on shore, and none of which weighed less
than 2 tons, were used. When the work was commenced, the engineer
estimated that the task would occupy five years, but on May 18, 1882,
the lamp was lighted by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Master of Trinity
House at the time, the enterprise having occupied only four years.
Some idea may thus be obtained of the energy with which the labour was
pressed forward, once the most trying sections were overcome.

Whereas the former lights on this rock had been of the fixed type, a
distinctive double flash was now introduced. The optical apparatus
is of the biform dioptric type, emitting a beam of some 300,000
candle-power intensity, which is visible for seventeen miles. In
addition to this measure of warning, two powerful Argand burners,
with reflectors, were set up in the low-light room for the purpose of
throwing a fixed ray from a point 40 feet below the main flashing beam,
to mark a dangerous reef lying 3½ miles to the north-west, known as
Hand Deeps.

When the new tower was completed and brought into service, the Smeaton
building was demolished. This task was carried out with extreme care,
inasmuch as the citizens of Plymouth had requested that the historic
Eddystone structure might be re-erected on Plymouth Hoe, on the spot
occupied by the existing Trinity House landmark. The authorities agreed
to this proposal, and the ownership of the Smeaton tower was forthwith
transferred to the people of Plymouth. But demolition was carried out
only to the level of Smeaton’s lower storeroom. The staircase, well and
entrance were filled up with masonry, the top was bevelled off, and in
the centre of the stump an iron pole was planted. While the Plymouth
Hoe relic is but one half of the tower, its re-erection was completed
faithfully, and, moreover, carries the original candelabra which the
famous engineer devised.

Not only is the Douglass tower a beautiful example of lighthouse
engineering, but it was relatively cheap. The engineer, when he
prepared the designs, estimated that an outlay of £78,000, or $390,000,
would be incurred. As a matter of fact, the building cost only £59,255,
or $296,275, and a saving of £18,000, or $90,000, in a work of this
magnitude is no mean achievement. All things considered, the Eddystone
is one of the cheapest sea-rock lights which has ever been consummated.



CHAPTER VI

SOME FAMOUS LIGHTS OF ENGLAND


The captain of the lordly liner, as he swings down Channel or
approaches the English coast from the broad Atlantic, maintains a
vigilant watch until the light or the slender proportions of the lonely
outpost rising apparently from the ocean’s depths off the south-west
corner of the Scilly Islands, become visible. This is the Bishop Rock,
the western sentinel of the English Channel, mounting guard over as
wicked a stretch of sea as may be found anywhere between the two Poles,
where the maritime traffic is densest and where wrecks, unfortunately,
are only too frequent; for the toll levied by the sea off the Cornish
coast is fearful.

Among these islands was planted one of the first beacons erected off
the British coasts. At the outset it was merely a wood bonfire, then a
brazier, and finally a lighthouse, which crowned St. Agnes’s height, to
guide the mariner on his way. But to-day the St. Agnes light is no more
than a memory. Two or three years ago the keepers quenched the light in
the misty grey of the dawn for the last time. The vigil which had been
maintained over shipping uninterruptedly through some 230 years was
ended. On a neighbouring point a superior modern light had been planted
which took up the sacred duty. Although established in 1680, the St.
Agnes was not the oldest light in England. This distinction belongs to
the North Foreland light on the East Kentish coast, which was set going
as far back as 1636. This warning was shed from a tower of timber,
lath, and plaster, built by Sir John Meldrum, but it fell a victim to
fire forty-seven years later. The light was reconstructed promptly, and
to-day throws a red and white gleam of 35,000 candle-power, which may
be picked up twenty miles away.

[Illustration:

            _Photo, Paul, Penzance._

THE “BISHOP,” THE WESTERN OUTPOST OF ENGLAND.

This tower marks a treacherous reef, rising from the depths of the
Atlantic off the Scilly Islands. Its slim proportions are familiar to
Transatlantic passengers.]

The south-western extremity of England, however, is far more to be
dreaded than the south-eastern. Here Nature mixed land and water in
an inextricable maze during her moulding process. Deep, tortuous,
wide channels separate rugged granite islets, while long, ugly ridges
creep stealthily out to sea beneath the pall of water, ready to trap
the unsuspecting vessel which ventures too closely. If one were to
take a map of this part of the country, were to dig one leg of a
compass into the Lizard Head, stretching the other so as to reach the
Eddystone light, and then were to describe a circle, the enclosed space
would contain more famous sea-rock lights than a similar area on any
other part of the globe. Within its circumference there would be the
Eddystone, Bishop Rock, Wolf, and Longships, each of which lifts its
cupola above a wave-swept ledge of rocks.

The need for an adequate indication of the Scillies was felt long
before the Eddystone gained its ill fame. These scattered masses of
granite, numbering about 140 in all, break up the expanse of the
Atlantic about twenty miles south-west of the Cornish mainland. Now,
the maritime traffic flowing in and out of the English Channel is
divided into two broad classes--the coastal and the oversea trade
respectively. The former is able to creep through the dangerous channel
separating the Scillies from the mainland, but the latter has to make a
détour to the south. One fringe of the broken cluster is as dangerous
as the other, so that both streams of trade demand protection.

On the south side the knots dot the sea in all directions. They are
mere black specks, many only revealing themselves at lowest tides;
others do not betray their existence even then. The outermost ledge
is the Bishop Rock, where disasters have been fearful and numerous.
One of the most terrible catastrophes on record happened here,
when three vessels of Sir Cloudesley Shovel’s fleet went to pieces
in the year 1707, and dragged 2,000 men down with them, including
the Admiral himself. In more recent times, some two or three years
ago, the Atlantic transport liner _Minnehaha_ dragged her lumbering
body over the selfsame attenuated rampart, and was badly damaged
before she could be rescued. As may be supposed, in days gone by the
awful character of the coast brought prosperity to the inhabitants
of Cornwall, who reaped rich harvests from the inhuman practice of
wrecking, in which horrible work the Scilly Islanders were easily
pre-eminent and more successful, since they held the outer lines upon
which the majority of ships came to grief.

In the forties of last century it was decided that this graveyard
should be marked, but there was one great difficulty. This was the
exposure of the low-lying rock to some 4,000 miles of open Atlantic,
where the rollers rise and fall with a force that turns the waters for
miles around into a seething maelstrom of foam and surf. The aspect
presented at this spot during a stiff south-westerly or westerly gale
is terrifying in the extreme, and it is not surprising that approaching
vessels stand so far off that the tower is often barely discernible
against the background of cloud and banks of mist caused by the spray
hurled into the air from the breakers smashing on the rocks.

[Illustration:

            _Photo, Paul, Penzance._

THE WOLF ROCK LIGHTHOUSE.

One of the famous lights of England. Owing to the rocks being exposed
to the full fury of the Atlantic, its erection was attended with
prodigious difficulty.]

When it was proposed to build a lighthouse upon a crag in the heart
of this vortex, many people who knew the neighbourhood shook their
heads doubtfully. The ledge was so small, the force of the elements
so powerful, that it appeared to be tempting Fate unduly to attempt
the erection of a slim stalk of stonework thereon. Some records of
the wind pressure exerted during the heaviest tempests were taken,
and they showed that the pressure of the wind at times exceeded 7,000
pounds per square foot. It was decided to provide a structure which
should offer the minimum of resistance to the waves. This assumed the
form of the iron screw-pile tower so common in American waters. The
legs were cast-iron tubes sunk into the solid granite, braced and
stayed by means of wrought-iron rods. The engineers maintained that the
waves would be able to roll unrestrainedly among the piles, instead of
being obstructed, so that the skeleton building would escape the heavy
buffetings which solid masonry would experience.

But engineering science proved woefully frail when pitted against the
unharnessed forces of Nature. A heavy gale sprang up one night; the
waves rose and fell upon the stilts, broke them up like reeds, and
carried away the whole of the superstructure. The following low-tide
revealed only a few short lengths of broken and bent tubes, around
which the waves bubbled and hissed as if in triumph at their victory.
Thus ended the first attempt to provide the Bishop Rock with a
lighthouse.

The engineer, though defeated, was not dismayed. As a skeleton
structure was impotent, he would erect a massive masonry tower which
not all the force of the waves could avail to demolish. Although the
reef is about 150 feet in length by 52 feet in width, the engineer,
James Walker, was not afforded much space upon which to place his
creation. He reconnoitred the ridge, and finally chose a small lump
just sufficiently large upon which to effect a foothold. The Smeaton
type of tower was his model, and the surface of the rock was trimmed to
receive the first blocks. This was the greatest difficulty. Unless the
sea were as smooth as a millpond, he was helpless, as the lowest blocks
had to be laid a foot beneath low-water mark. A heavy cofferdam was
erected around the site, and the water within was pumped out, so that
the masons might be able to toil upon a dry rock-face.

The exposed, isolated character of the spot rendered the housing of
the workmen a problem in itself. They could not be accommodated on the
site; a temporary dwelling on piles for their accommodation could not
be established, as it would come down with the first gale, and housing
on a tender was equally impracticable. There was a small uninhabited
islet within convenient distance of the reef, and on this the
living-quarters and workshops were erected, the men being transported
to and fro whenever the conditions were suitable. Traces of this bygone
industrial activity still remain on the island, but the sea-fowl have
once more claimed it exclusively as their home. The working spells
were brief, as well as being somewhat few and far between, while
the base was being prepared. The granite was brought to the island
depot, fashioned into shape, and then sent to the Bishop for erection.
Granite was used exclusively, and in 1878, after seven years’ arduous
labour, the tower, 120 feet in height, capped by a powerful light, was
completed: the dreaded Bishop Rock was conquered at last.

When it was first commissioned, four men were deputed to watch this
light, three being on the rock, and the fourth man on leave at St.
Mary’s. The duty was for three months continuous, one man being
relieved every month if possible; but, as a matter of fact, the spell
on the rock often was increased, owing to the weather rendering it
impossible to exchange the men. The character of their duty, under the
terrible assaults of the sea, played havoc with the constitutions and
nerves of the lighthouse-keepers. They became taciturn, and inevitably
fell victims to neurasthenia, owing to their long periods of isolation.
Accordingly the authorities gradually relaxed the spell of duty,
until now it comprises a month on the rock, followed by a fortnight
ashore, while six men, instead of four, are appointed to the station.
The Bishop light demands watchers of iron constitution and prolonged
experience of the rigours of imprisonment upon a lonely rock. The men
appear to suffer most from the fear that one day the seas will regain
the upper hand and carry the slender-looking shaft of masonry away.
When the Atlantic is roused to fury, the din created by the waves
smashing against the tower and reef is so deafening that the keepers
can only converse by signs.

The attacks which this tower has to withstand are fearful. When the
equinoxes are raging, it is no uncommon circumstance for the waves
to roll up the side of the tower and hurl themselves clean over
the lantern. The enormous force of the water was brought home very
startlingly to the attendants of the light one night, when a more than
usually wicked breaker slid up the curved round face and wrenched the
fog-bell, weighing 550 pounds, from its fastenings on the lantern
gallery. The ponderous piece of metal was dashed on to the reef and
smashed to fragments. A small piece was recovered after the gale, and
is now preserved in the Trinity House museum as an interesting memento
of the night when the Atlantic almost got the upper hand. The nerves of
the men are tried severely, also, by memories of the terrible marine
disasters which have happened on or near the ridge, such as that of the
German packet _Schiller_, which went down in 1875 with the loss of 331
lives.

It is not surprising that the ceaseless attacks of the waves should
have left their traces at last. The light had been burning for about
twenty years, when tremors and quakings, similar to those observed
in connection with Smeaton’s Eddystone tower, were reported to the
authorities. Sir James Douglass visited the rock, and made a minute
inspection. It was apparent that the lighthouse demanded extensive
overhauling and strengthening if it were to be preserved. In fact,
this was the only feasible course of action, as there was not
another suitable spot whereon a new structure could be raised. The
Eddystone had been completed, and as the same tackle was available,
the protective work was undertaken at once. In conjunction with this
enterprise, the engineer also advocated an increase in the height of
the tower.

His plans met with approval, and an ingenious means of strengthening
the existing building was evolved. Virtually it comprised the erection
of a new tower around the old shaft, and connected to the latter,
so as to form one homogeneous structure. In order to strengthen the
foundations, massive blocks of masonry were sunk into the rock,
cemented, and held in position by heavy bolts. From the masons’ point
of view, the task of overhauling was more exciting and dangerous than
that which had attended the erection of the original tower; for the
men had to toil on narrow, swinging platforms, cutting notches in the
face of every stone in the existing structure to receive dovetails on
the blocks of the new outer shell. Thus the latter were dovetailed
to adjacent blocks on five out of their six faces. A massive chain
was slung round the upper part of the tower, from which life-lines
hung down to the men working below. A man was stationed as a lookout.
When he saw a breaker approaching he gave a signal; each man clutched
his life-rope tenaciously and retained his foothold as best he could
on his perilous perch while the water swept over him. Often the men
were submerged by a rushing wave, and when the water subsided shook
themselves like dogs emerging from the water. But the provision of the
life-ropes prevented serious injury and loss of life, although the
masons at times were considerably knocked about.

The tower has been given an enormous, massive, cylindrical base,
while the shaft is solid to the entrance level, except for the
usual water-tanks. The attachment of the outer shell reinforced it
remarkably, the walls at the entrance being increased to a thickness of
8 feet. The addition of the four extra floors elevated the light by a
further 40 feet, the focal plane now being 163 feet above high-water.
The light, of 622,500 candle-power, visible for eighteen miles, is
a white group-flash, there being two flashes, each of four seconds’
duration, with an intervening eclipse of five seconds, while the groups
are separated by intervals of forty-seven seconds.

Off the northern shores of the Scillies, standing in the strait which
provides a short-cut around the toe of England, is another magnificent
tower. This is the Wolf Rock lighthouse, marking the reef of that name,
which lies eight miles off Land’s End in the fairway of the coastal
traffic. The cluster of rocks from which it rises is just as dangerous
as that to the south, and is exposed likewise to the full fury of the
south-westerly gales coming in from the Atlantic. It was one of the
most attractive spots to the old Cornish wreckers, for ships which
lost their way during the fogs which hang about this coast invariably
blundered into the reef, to be smashed to pieces within a very short
time.

This spot was not so greatly feared by the seafarer when heavy gales
prevailed. There was a hollow rock on the ridge, into which the waves
were driven. In so doing they compressed the air within the space,
which, as it escaped, produced a long, distinctive wail, recalling the
cry of the wolf. It was this natural phenomenon which gave the rock
its name. The harder the wind blew, and the higher the waves rose,
the louder was the reverberating bellow, and, as it could be heard
distinctly above the music of the storm, the navigator was able to
steer clear of the formidable obstruction. On the other hand, during
periods of heavy fog, when the waves were usually quiet, there was
scarcely any perceptible sound.

[Illustration:

            _Photo, Paul, Penzance._

THE LONGSHIPS LIGHT.

In the background is the forbidding iron-bound Cornish coast, where
wrecks unfortunately are frequent.]

The Wolf Rock would be growling to this day had it not been for the
inhuman action of the Cornish plunderers. They detested the weird noise
as cordially as the mariner blessed it. It robbed them of so many rich
hauls that at last they decided to silence the rock for ever. They
filled the cavity with large boulders, which were carried out in boats
from the mainland and dumped overboard. Then the Cornishmen met with a
spell of enhanced prosperity from the increased number of wrecks which
occurred.

When the exigencies of commerce demanded that the reef should be
guarded, a most fantastic device was prepared. An attempt was made to
restore artificially the natural siren. A fabric wrought in copper
in the form of a huge wolf with distended jaws was contrived, the
designers averring that the air would rush in and produce a distinctive
whistle. This grotesque danger-signal never reached its destination.
It would have been absolutely useless even had it been placed over the
rock, as the first lively sea would have carried it away, while the
noise produced, if any, would have been inaudible more than a few feet
away.

The Trinity Brethren at last took the matter up, but their
investigations caused them to doubt the possibility of building a
lighthouse on such a forbidding spot. They did the next best thing.
They drove a thick oak joist into the rock, and attached a coloured
sphere to its upper extremity. This constituted a valuable landmark by
day, but was useless at night. But its life was brief. The first storm
which swept the reef after the erection of the beacon tore it up
by the roots. It was replaced by a heavy mast of wrought-iron, which
suffered a similar fate, as did also a third iron pole 9 inches in
diameter. At last a low conical stump was built upon the ridge, with
the staff and sphere projecting from its centre. This defied wind and
wave successfully for many years. Its permanency impressed the builders
of the Bishop Rock light, who came to the conclusion that, as the small
conical tower held hard and fast, a masonry tower could be given just
as firm a hold.

When the engineer approached the reef to make his surveys, he found
the water boiling and bubbling madly, and it was some time before he
could get a foothold. He completed his examination, and then found, to
his dismay, that the boat could not approach to take him off. He could
not stay where he was, as the tide, which was rising, would engulf the
reef within a short time, so he resorted to a bold expedient. He had
taken the precaution to bring a life-line with him, so that he was
in touch with the boat. He looped this round his waist securely, and
then, telling the men to pull as hard as they could, he plunged into
the water. In this manner he was dragged through the furious surf and
pulled into the boat, thoroughly drenched, but otherwise none the worse
for his adventure.

[Illustration:

            _Photo, Paul, Penzance._

THE GODREVY LIGHT, SCILLY ISLANDS.

It marks a forbidding clump of rocks, landing on which is always
exciting.]

The work was begun in 1862, when the masons were despatched to the
rock to prepare the face for the reception of the bottom masonry
blocks. The tedious and exceptionally dangerous character of the work
was emphasized very forcibly upon those engaged in the task. It was
seldom that the water was sufficiently placid to enable a landing to
be made. Then, as the working spell was very brief, being restricted
to low-tide, the men could pause only for a few minutes at a time,
and even during these were menaced by the breakers. During the first
working season only eighty-three hours of labour were possible--a fact
which conveys a graphic idea of the exposed character of the site, its
difficulty of access, and the short time available for work between the
tides.

While excavations were under way, the preparation of a landing-stage
was taken in hand. As only small blocks of stone could be used,
naturally it occupied a considerable time. It was, however, essential,
in order to permit the erection of a derrick by which the heavy blocks
for the tower could be lifted from the construction boat to the rock.
On the rock-face itself the masons toiled strenuously, chipping,
scraping, and paring away all the faulty pieces of gneiss, so that a
firm, solid foundation was secured, into which the bottom course of
stones was dovetailed and anchored.

Owing to the frequency with which the rock was swept by the seas,
special precautions had to be adopted to insure the safety of the
workmen. Iron dogs were driven into the rock at frequent points,
to which ropes were fastened and allowed to trail across the rock,
each mason being urged to keep one of these life-lines always within
arm’s length. As an additional precaution he was compelled to wear a
lifebelt, which, although it hampered free movement somewhat, yet gave
the wearer, if he lost his foothold or were thrown into the water,
a chance of keeping afloat until the lifeboat standing by was able
to reach him. A Cornish fisherman, who was familiar with the seas on
this part of the coast, and who could judge a breaking wave from a
distance, acted as a lookout. When he saw a comber about to creep over
the rock, he gave a signal, when the workmen clutched their life-lines,
and, with feet firmly planted and the ropes drawn taut, or throwing
themselves prostrate, with heads pointed to the advancing wave, allowed
the breaker to roll over them and expend its violence harmlessly. Time
after time the masons were buried beneath huge tumbling hills of water.
Work under such conditions was decidedly irksome, and progress was very
appreciably retarded, but the safety of the workmen was, of course,
the pre-eminent consideration. Curiously enough, these men who face
the perils, privations, and exciting incessant dangers, incidental to
lighthouse building, are extremely superstitious. If an undertaking
such as the Wolf were attended by a disaster and loss of life in
its initial stages, the completion of the task might be seriously
jeopardized. The rock would be regarded as a “hoo-doo,” and would be
shunned like a fever-stricken city. Therefore the engineer will go to
any lengths to secure, so far as is humanly possible, the preservation
of the lives and limbs of those in his employ. This is the chief reason
why the erection of these wonderful towers has been attended by so few
accidents or fatalities, while the men fitted for the task are so few
that the engineer cannot afford to disturb their peace of mind.

The Wolf tower follows the generally accepted lines, and is solid at
the base. It is wrought throughout of granite, the stones being joggled
together. One ingenious measure was adopted in connection with the
lower courses in order to prevent the action of the waves from breaking
up the cement in the exposed joints and setting up disintegration. The
upper surface of each stone is given a wide rabbet, and the stone above
fits into the recess so that the horizontal joint between the two is
covered by the outer fillet, thereby protecting it completely. This
practice was followed throughout all the lower courses to a height of
39 feet, and the security thus obtained is reflected by the strength of
the tower to-day after half a century’s wear.

Work proceeded so slowly in the early stages, owing to the abnormal
conditions, that by the end of 1864 only thirty-seven stones in the
second course of masonry were laid. In the meantime, however, the
landing-stage had been practically completed, and the erection of the
crane enabled the blocks for the tower to be transferred to the rock
with greater ease and rapidity. The tower, 135 feet in height, was
completed on July 19, 1869, while the light was brought into service
early in the following year. Eight years were expended upon the
enterprise, and during this period 296 landings were effected upon the
rock and 1,814 hours of labour were consummated. This is equal to about
101 working days of ten hours each, or, on the average, less than one
hour every day of the years occupied in the undertaking. The lantern
throws a powerful white light, which in clear weather may be seen from
twenty to twenty-five miles away. The cost of the enterprise was
£62,726, or $313,630--nearly twice that of the first Bishop Rock light.

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Messrs. D. and C. Stevenson._

THE CHICKEN ROCK LIGHTHOUSE, OFF THE ISLE OF MAN.

It marks a dangerous reef. The revolving light of 143,000 candle-power
is visible for sixteen miles. Although the lantern is 143 feet above
the water, the waves frequently engulf it.]

Another gaunt structure rears itself from a reef a few miles to the
north-west of the Wolf, and a short distance off the Land’s End. This
is the Longships light. The name itself suggests a light-vessel, and
a stranger is surprised to learn that it is an imposing building,
worthy of comparison with the two other structures already described
which guard the Scillies. Although it is within a short distance of
the mainland, its exposed situation rendered its construction as
exasperatingly difficult as that of both the Bishop and Wolf lights. A
few miles farther north another powerful light indicates the “Kingdom
of Heaven,” as the black hump of Lundy Island, rising out of the
Bristol Channel, is colloquially called, from the name of its clerical
owner.

On the opposite side and due north of this bight, the Pembrokeshire
coast breaks off abruptly at St. David’s Head, only to reappear out
at sea in some twenty little rugged islets known as The Smalls. They
occur some twenty-one miles off the mainland, and for years they played
havoc with the shipping plying between North of England ports and
the Bristol Channel. These rocks--for they are little else--were the
private property of a Liverpool gentleman, who became so distracted
by the frequency of disaster that, in 1773, he decided to crown
them with a beacon. He selected a musical instrument manufacturer
named Whiteside as his engineer, and this amateur mechanic, after an
inspection, decided to place the warning light on a tiny crag which
projected about 5 feet above high-water. It is somewhat strange that
the adequate safeguarding of two devastating parts of the south-western
coast of England should have been placed in the hands of men who were
not professional engineers. Rudyerd, the silk-mercer, was responsible
for the second Eddystone, and here was an instrument-maker taking
over one of the most difficult enterprises it was possible to find.
Yet both these amateur engineers inscribed their names ineffaceably
upon two of the most evil spots around the coasts of the British
Islands. Rudyerd gave us the true conical design, which has never
been superseded for strength and stability; while Whiteside evolved a
skeleton tower which braved the most tempestuous seas for some eighty
years. In the first instance the latter carried out his work in iron,
thinking that metal would prove irresistible, but within a short time
he replaced it with heavy legs of oak. The frail-looking structure was
submitted to storms of almost seismic violence, but it withstood them
all for over half a century, when a peculiarly vicious wave, as it
rolled between the supports, suddenly flew upwards, driving the floor
of the keepers’ quarters into the roof. It was an exceptional accident,
which no engineer could have foreseen. When the Trinity House Brethren
took over the light, their chief engineer, Mr. James Walker, looked
upon the erection as such a fine piece of work that the damage was
repaired, and the Whiteside light gleamed for a further twenty years
before it gave place to the present graceful stone building.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

HOW THE SKERRYVORE IS BUILT.

In the centre, a vertical section. At sides, transverse sections at
different masonry courses, showing method of laying the stones.]

It was a grim episode at this light which brought about the practice
of appointing three men at least to a sea light-station. When first
completed, The Smalls was provided with only two keepers, and on one
occasion one of the two died. His companion refrained from committing
the body to the sea, lest he might be suspected of foul-play, so he
constructed a rough shell, in which he placed the body of his dead
chum, and stood the grisly burden on end beside his flag of distress
on the gallery outside the lantern. As the spell of duty in those days
was four months, it was some time before the relief came out. Then
they discovered a shattered human wreck tending the lights, who had
never neglected his duty under the onerous and weird conditions, but
who nevertheless had become broken down and aged under the terrible
ordeal. After this experience three men instead of two were placed on
duty at all such exposed and inaccessible lights. It may be recalled
that Alphonse Daudet tells a similar creepy story which was related
to him by a light-keeper on the rugged Corsican coast, and which he
narrates in the “Phares des Sanguinaires.” A similar experience is
also associated with Rudyerd’s Eddystone light.

Off the North Welsh coast there are the famous lights of the South
Stack and the Skerries, the latter rising out of the water on a
dangerous cluster of rocks off Carmel Head. The Isle of Man also
possesses a magnificent specimen of lighthouse engineering in the
Chicken Rock light, the work of the brothers Stevenson, which, although
in the Irish Sea, comes within the jurisdiction of the Commissioners
of Northern Lights. This tower stands on a reef which is submerged by
6 feet of water even at high neap-tides. When a gale is raging and the
spring-tides are at their highest, the waves frequently engulf the
lantern, although it is perched 143 feet above the water. The light is
of 143,000 candle-power, of the revolving type, and visible for sixteen
miles in clear weather.

Entering the English Channel from the Scillies, the voyager observes
the powerful Lizard light gleaming like two brilliant white stars from
a prominent elevated point on the cliff. Formerly three lights were
shown, but two were found to meet the necessities of the situation
adequately. The steamship lane lies across the chord of the arc
formed by the coastline between the Lizard and Start Point, leaving
the Eddystone to the north. The next important light is the Needles,
at the entrance to the Solent. A few miles farther on the brilliant
spoke-light flashes of St. Catherine’s, described in another chapter,
compel attention. No other light after this is seen until Beachy Head
is approached. Another dreary stretch brings the vessel abeam the nose
of Kentish coast known as Dungeness, a particularly notorious danger
spot. Here there is a continual struggle between the engineers and the
sea. While the waves gnaw into the coastline at other neighbouring
places, here they surrender their capture, so that the headland is
persistently creeping farther and farther out to sea. It is lighted,
and has been guarded for years, but the tower is left at a constantly
increasing distance from the water’s edge. The light has been moved
once or twice, so as to fulfil its purpose to the best advantage, but
the engineer will be kept on the alert until the currents change their
courses and refrain from piling up further drift at this point. This
light, coming as it does at the entrance to the bottle-neck of the
English Channel, is of prime importance to navigation, because vessels,
after they have rounded the South Foreland, make a bee-line for this
headland.

Since the eastern coast of England is flanked by sandbanks and shoals,
the lighthouse is not in powerful evidence, the aids to navigation
consisting chiefly of light-vessels, which are distributed liberally
so as to patrol completely a treacherous stretch of shoals. Northwards
the sandy, low-lying wastes give way to towering cliffs, amongst which
Flamborough Head and its light are conspicuous. At the far northern
limit of the operations of Trinity House comes the Longstones, mounting
guard over the terrible Farne Islands and their rocky outposts. Who has
not heard of the heroism of Grace Darling, the light-keeper’s daughter,
and the thrilling rescue, in the teeth of a hurricane, of the exhausted
survivors of the _Forfarshire_?

Complaints have been made often regarding the paucity of powerful
lights around the coast of England, but the criticism scarcely is
deserved. All the prominent and most dangerous spots are lighted
adequately, and, as may be recognized, the provision of these lights
has proved an exacting and costly enterprise. What England may lack in
numbers in this particular field of engineering is compensated for by
the daring nature of the works completed, which are regarded throughout
the world as marvellous achievements.



CHAPTER VII

THE BELL ROCK AND SKERRYVORE LIGHTS


At first sight it seems somewhat remarkable--some might feel disposed
to challenge the assertion--that so small a country as Scotland
should stand pre-eminent among the nations of the world as being that
possessed of the greatest number of imposing sea-rock lights. But such
is the case. Moreover, North Britain offers some of the finest and most
impressive specimens of the lighthouse builder’s resource and skill to
be found in any part of the globe.

When the responsibility for lighting the Scottish coasts was handed
over to the Commissioners for Northern Lighthouses, one of their first
tasks was the adequate illumination of the wave-swept Inchcape or Bell
Rock, which lies some twelve miles off the Scottish mainland in the
busy portal of the Firth of Tay. At that time this sinister menace
to navigation was not marked in any way whatever, and apparently had
remained in this unprotected condition ever since the notorious pirate,
Ralph the Rover, cut away the buoy-bell which had been placed upon it
by the Abbot of Aberbrothock, as narrated in Southey’s famous ballad.

The rock, or rather reef--inasmuch as it measures 2,000 feet from end
to end, and lies athwart the fairway--is submerged completely to a
depth of 16 feet at high spring-tides, while at lowest water only some
4 feet of its crest are laid bare here and there. This is not all. The
ledge is the summit of a dangerous, slowly-rising submarine hillock,
where, for a distance of about 100 yards on either side, the lead
sounds only 3 fathoms. Wrecks were so numerous and terrible at this
spot that the protection of the seafaring community became imperative,
and the newly-appointed guardians of the Scottish coast lost no time
in justifying the trust reposed in them, but erected a first-class
light. The Eddystone had been conquered, and, although the conditions
were dissimilar and the enterprise bolder, no tangible reason against
its imitation was advanced.

The engineer John Rennie was entrusted with the work, while Robert
Stevenson was appointed as his assistant. The rock was surveyed, and
a tower similar in its broad lines to that evolved by Smeaton for the
Eddystone was elaborated, and the authority for its construction given
in the year 1806.

Work upon the rock in the earliest stages was confined to the calmest
days of the summer season, when the tides were lowest, the water was
smoothest, and the wind in its calmest mood. Under such conditions the
men were able to stay on the site for about five hours. The engineer
hoped against hope that the elements would be kind to him, and that he
would be able to complete the preliminary work upon the rock in one
season.

The constructional plans were prepared carefully, so that advantage
might be taken of every promising opportunity. One distinct drawback
was the necessity to establish a depot some distance from the erecting
site. Those were the days before steam navigation, and the capricious
sailing craft offered the only means of maintaining communication
between rock and shore, and for the conveyance of men and material
to and fro. The year 1807 was devoted to the construction of vessels
for the work, and to the establishment of workshops with machinery
and other facilities at Arbroath, the nearest suitable point on the
mainland to the rock. A temporary beacon was placed on the reef, while
adjacent to the site selected for the tower a smith’s forge was made
fast, so as to withstand the dragging motion of the waves when the
rock was submerged. The men were housed on the _Smeaton_, which during
the spells of work on the rock rode at anchor a short distance away in
deep water. The arrangements stipulated that three boats, which were
employed to bring the men from the vessel to the rock, should always
be moored at the landing-place, so that, in the event of the weather
changing for the worse, the masons, forced to cease work suddenly,
might regain the _Smeaton_ safely in one trip, the three boats being
able to convey thirty men, which constituted the average complement on
the rock.

While the preparations were proceeding ashore, a little body of workers
toiled, whenever possible, at clearing the face of the rock and
carrying out the requisite excavation work. While this was in progress
a disaster was averted very narrowly, which would have jeopardized the
completion of the tower, owing to the superstitious natures of the men
engaged. On September 2, 1807, the _Smeaton_, as usual, had brought out
some thirty masons, had landed them safely on the rock, and was riding
at anchor.

Suddenly the wind freshened, and the engineer on the rock grew
apprehensive of the _Smeaton_ dragging her cables. A party at once put
off from the rock in one of the three boats and regained the ship, but
were scarcely aboard when the cables parted, and the vessel, caught by
the wind and tide, made off. Before the men regained control of her
she had drifted some three miles to leeward. Meantime on the rock the
situation was growing serious. Only Mr. Stevenson, who was supervising
operations on the spot, and the landing-master were aware of its
gravity. The masons were so busy hewing, boring and chiselling, that
they had not noticed the _Smeaton’s_ drift. But the engineer, observing
the flowing of the tide, realized that the rock must be submerged
before the ship could be brought up again. He racked his brains to find
some means of getting his gang of men off safely in the nick of time,
but it was a searching problem to solve with only two boats, which, at
the utmost, could carry twenty-four persons. To make matters worse, one
of those mists which are so peculiar to the Scottish coast began to
settle down, blotting everything from sight.

The water rose higher. The men toiling on the lowest levels receded
higher and higher before the advancing tide, though still too deeply
occupied in their labours to bestow a thought upon the _Smeaton_.
At last the smith’s forge was quenched, and this was the general
signal to the men to prepare to leave the rock. Tools were collected,
and the party strode towards the landing-stage to enter the boats.
Conceive their consternation when they saw that one boat was missing!
When they glanced over the water the _Smeaton_ was not riding in her
usual place--in fact, was nowhere to be seen! One and all gathered
around the engineer to learn the reason for this remarkable breach in
the arrangements for their safety, and yet all were too dumbfounded
to question or protest. As for the luckless engineer, he was at his
wits’ end and could not offer a word of explanation to the inquiring
looks that besieged him. One and all, as the water lapped their feet,
realized the hopelessness of the position. Suddenly, when they were
beginning to despair, one of the men described the phantom form of a
vessel making for the rock. “A boat!” he shouted in exultation. Sure
enough the shadow matured into the familiar form of the Tay pilot-boat,
the master of which, observing the workmen on the rock, the rising
tide, and the absence of the _Smeaton_, had realized that something
must have gone wrong, and approached the rock to make inquiries. He
came up at the critical moment. The men were drenched, and, their
feelings having been strung to a high pitch with anxiety, they nearly
collapsed at the arrival of this unexpected assistance. The pilot-boat,
after taking off the men, awaited the return of the _Smeaton_, which
took them on board about midnight.

This narrow escape so terrified the men that on the following day the
engineer found only eight of his staff of thirty-two, who were willing
to venture upon the rock again. When this gang returned in the evening,
their safety appeared to restore courage to their companions, so that
next day all expressed their readiness to resume their tasks.

The fitful character of the work did not leave its mark so distinctly
as might be supposed. Whenever there was a chance, the men worked with
an amazing will and zeal; and although the first stone of the tower was
not laid until July 10, 1808, three courses of masonry were completed
when the undertaking was suspended at the end of November for the
winter. The succeeding season’s toil saw the addition of about 27 feet
more of the tower, which was finally completed by the close of 1810.
The building was 120 feet in height, and the light was shown for the
first time on February 1, 1811.

In view of the difficulties which had to be surmounted, this “ruddy
gem of changeful light,” as it is described by Sir Walter Scott, was
not particularly costly. By the time it was brought into commission,
£61,330, or $306,650, had been expended. In 1902, after nearly a
century’s service, the tower was provided with a new light-room, so as
to bring it into conformity with modern practice.

While the Bell Rock tower stands as a monument to the engineering
ability of Robert Stevenson, the Skerryvore, on the western coast, is
a striking tribute to the genius of his son, Alan. For forty years or
more previous to 1844 one ship at least had been caught and shattered
every year on this tumbled mass of gneiss. From the navigator’s point
of view, the danger of this spot lay chiefly in the fact that it was so
widely scattered. The ridge runs like a broken backbone for a distance
of some eight miles in a west-south-westerly direction, and it is
flanked on each side by isolated rocks which jut from a badly-broken
sea-bed. The whole mass lies some distance out to sea, being ten miles
south-west of Tyree and twenty-four miles west of Iona. In rough
weather the whole of the rocks are covered, and the waves, beating
heavily on the mass, convert the scene into one of indescribable tumult.

The Commissioners of Northern Lights acknowledged the urgent need of
a light upon this ridge, but it was realized that its erection would
represent the most daring feat of lighthouse engineering that had been
attempted up to this time. There was only one point where a tower
could be placed, and this was so exposed that the safe handling of the
men and materials constituted a grave responsibility. The rock has to
withstand the full impetus of the Atlantic waves, gathered in their
3,000 miles’ roll, and investigations revealed the fact that they bear
down upon the Skerryvore with a force equal to some 3 tons per square
foot. It was apparent that any masonry tower must be of prodigious
strength to resist such a battering, while at the same time a lofty
stack was imperative, because the light not only would have to mount
guard over the rock upon which it stood, but also over a vast stretch
of dangerous water on either side.

After he had completed the Bell Rock light, Robert Stevenson attacked
the problem of the Skerryvore. In order to realize the magnitude of the
undertaking, some of the Commissioners accompanied the engineer, but
the experience of pulling out into the open Atlantic on a day when it
was slightly ruffled somewhat shook their determination to investigate
the reef from close quarters. Sir Walter Scott was a member of the
party, and he has described the journey very graphically. Before they
had gone far the Commissioners on board expressed their willingness to
leave the matter entirely in the hands of their engineer. With grim
Scottish humour, however, Robert Stevenson insisted that the rock
should be gained, so that the Commissioners might be able to grasp the
problem at first hand.

But after all nothing was done. The difficulties surrounding the work
were only too apparent to the officials. They agreed that the expense
must be prodigious and that the risks to the workmen would be grave.

In 1834 a second expedition was despatched to the reef under Alan
Stevenson, who had accompanied his father on the previous occasion,
and who now occupied the engineering chair. He surveyed the reef
thoroughly, traversing the dangerous channels around the isolated
humps, of which no less than 130 were counted, at great risk to himself
and his companions. However, he achieved his object. He discovered the
best site for the tower and returned home to prepare his plans.

His proposals, for those days, certainly were startling. He decided to
follow generally the principles of design, which had been laid down
by his father in regard to the Bell Rock. But he planned something
bigger and more daring. He maintained that a tower 130 feet high, with
a base diameter of 42 feet, tapering in a curve to 16 feet at the top,
was absolutely necessary. It was the loftiest and weightiest work of
its character that had ever been contemplated up to this time, while
the peculiar situation of the reef demanded pioneering work in all
directions.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

THE SKERRYVORE, SCOTLAND’S MOST FAMOUS LIGHTHOUSE.

The erection of this tower upon a straggling low-lying reef 24 miles
off Iona, and exposed to the full fury of the Atlantic, ranks as one of
the world’s engineering wonders.]

The confidence of the Commissioners in the ability of their engineer
was so complete that he received the official sanction to begin, and in
1838 the undertaking was commenced. The engineer immediately formulated
his plans of campaign for a stiff struggle with Nature. One of the
greatest difficulties was the necessity to transport men, supplies
and material over a long distance, as the Scottish coast in this
vicinity is wild and sparsely populated. He established his base on the
neighbouring island of Tyree, where barracks for the workmen, and yards
for the preparation of the material, were erected, while another colony
was established on the Isle of Mull for the quarrying of the granite.
A tiny pier or jetty had to be built at this point to facilitate the
shipment of the stone, and at Tyree a small harbour had to be completed
to receive the vessel which was built specially for transportation
purposes between the base and the rock.

Another preliminary was the provision of accommodation for the masons
upon the reef. The Atlantic swell, which rendered landing on the
ridge precarious and hazardous, did not permit the men to be housed
upon a floating home, as had been the practice in the early days
of the Bell Rock tower. In order to permit the work to go forward
as uninterruptedly as the sea would permit, a peculiar barrack was
erected. It was a house on stilts, the legs being sunk firmly into the
rock, with the living-quarters perched some 40 feet up in the air. The
skeleton type of structure was selected because it did not impede the
natural movement of the waves. It was an ingenious idea, and fulfilled
the purpose of its designer admirably, while the men became
accustomed to their strange home after a time. For two years it
withstood the seas without incident, and the engineer and men came to
regard the eyrie as safe as a house on shore. But one night the little
colony received a shock. The angry Atlantic got one or two of its
trip-hammer blows well home, and smashed the structure to fragments.
Fortunately, at the time it was untenanted.

The workmen, who were on shore waiting to go out to the rock to resume
their toil, were downcast at this unexpected disaster, but the engineer
was not at all ruffled. He promptly sent to Glasgow for further
material, and lost no time in rebuilding the quaint barrack upon new
and stronger lines. This erection defied the waves successfully until
its demolition after the Skerryvore was finished.

Residence in this tower was eerie. The men climbed the ladder
and entered a small room, which served the purposes of kitchen,
dining-room, and parlour. It was barely 12 feet across--quarters
somewhat cramped for thirty men. When a storm was raging, the waves,
as they combed over the rock, shook the legs violently and scurried
under the floor in seething foam. Now and again a roller, rising higher
than its fellows, broke upon the rock and sent a mass of water against
the flooring to hammer at the door. Above the living-room were the
sleeping-quarters, high and dry, save when a shower of spray fell upon
the roof and walls like heavy hail, and occasionally percolated the
joints of the woodwork. The men, however, were not perturbed. Sleeping,
even under such conditions, was far preferable to doubtful rest in a
bunk upon an attendant vessel, rolling and pitching with the motion of
the sea. They had had a surfeit of such experience during the first
season’s work, while the barrack was under erection.

[Illustration: BARRA HEAD LIGHTHOUSE, SCOTLAND.

The tower is 60 feet in height, but owing to its position on the
cliffs, the white occulting light is 683 feet above high water, and is
visible 33 miles.]

[Illustration:

            By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission.

THE HOMES OF THE KEEPERS OF THE SKERRYVORE AND DHU-HEARTACH LIGHTS.

On the Island of Tiree, Argyllshire, 10 miles away.]

Yet the men could not grumble. The engineer responsible for the work
shared their privations and discomforts, for Alan Stevenson clung to
the rock night and day while work was in progress, and he has given a
very vivid impression of life in this quaint home on legs. He relates
how he “spent many a weary day and night--at those times when the
sea prevented anyone going down to the rock--anxiously looking for
supplies from the shore, and earnestly looking for a change of weather
favourable for prosecuting the works. For miles around nothing could be
seen but white foaming breakers, and nothing heard but howling winds
and lashing waves. At such seasons much of our time was spent in bed,
for there alone we had effectual shelter from the winds and spray,
which searched every cranny in the walls of the barrack. Our slumbers,
too, were at times fearfully interrupted by the sudden pouring of the
sea over the roof, the rocking of the house on its pillars, and the
spurting of water through the seams of the doors and windows--symptoms
which, to one suddenly aroused from sound sleep, recalled the appalling
fate of the former barrack, which had been engulfed in the foam not
20 yards from our dwelling, and for a moment seemed to summon us to a
similar fate.”

The work upon the rock was tedious and exasperating in the extreme. The
gneiss was of maddening hardness and obstinacy--“four times as tough
as Aberdeen granite” was the general opinion. The Atlantic, pounding
the rock continuously through the centuries, had faced it smoother than
could any mason with his tools, yet had not left it sufficiently sound
to receive the foundations. In the external layer, which the masons
laboured strenuously to remove with their puny tools, there were cracks
and crevices here and there. The stubborn rock played havoc with the
finest chisels and drills, and clearing had to be effected for the
most part by the aid of gunpowder. This powerful agent, however, could
only be used sparingly and with extreme skill, so that the rock-face
might not be shivered or shattered too severely. Moreover, the men ran
extreme risks, for the rock splintered like glass, and the flying chips
were capable of doing as much damage, when thus impelled, as a bullet.

While the foundations were being prepared, and until the barrack was
constructed, the men ran other terrible risks every morning and night
in landing upon and leaving the polished surface of the reef. Five
months during the summer was the working season, but even then many
days and weeks were often lost owing to the swell being too great to
permit the rowing-boat to come alongside. The engineer relates that
the work was “a good lesson in the school of patience,” because the
delays were frequent and galling, while every storm which got up and
expended its rage upon the reef left its mark indelibly among the
engineer’s stock-in-trade. Cranes and other material were swept away as
if they were corks; lashings, no matter how strong, were snapped like
pack-threads. Time after time the tender lying alongside had to weigh
anchor hurriedly, and make a spirited run to its haven at Tyree.

When the barrack was erected, the situation was eased somewhat, but
then the hours became long. Operations being confined to the summer
months, the average working day was from four in the morning until nine
in the evening--seventeen hours--with intervals for meals; but the men
were not averse to the prolonged daily toil, inasmuch as cessation
brought no welcome relaxations, but rather encouraged broodings over
their isolated position, whereas occupation served to keep the mind
engaged. Twice the men had severe frights during the night. On each
occasion a violent storm sprang up after they had gone to bed, and one
or two ugly breakers, getting their blows home, shook the eyrie with
the force of an earthquake. Every man leaped out of his bunk, and one
or two of the more timid, in their fright, hurried down the ladder and
spent the remaining spell of darkness shivering and quaking on the
completed trunk of the lighthouse, deeming it to be safer than the
crazy-looking structure which served as their home.

Two years were occupied upon the foundations, the first stone being
laid by the Duke of Argyll on July 7, 1840. This eminent personage
evinced a deep interest in the work and the difficulties which had to
be overcome, and as proprietor of the island of Tyree extended to the
Commissioners free permission to quarry any granite they required from
any part of his estate.

For a height of some 21 feet from the foundation level the tower is
a solid trunk of masonry. Then come the entrance and water-tanks,
followed by nine floors, comprising successively coal-store, workshop,
storeroom, kitchen, two bedrooms, library, oil-store, and light-room,
the whole occupying a height of 130 feet, crowned by the lantern.
As a specimen of lighthouse engineering, the Skerryvore has become
famous throughout the world. The stones forming the solid courses at
the bottom are attached to one another so firmly and ingeniously as
to secure the maximum of strength and solidity, the result being that
nothing short of an earthquake could overthrow the stalk of masonry.

The erection of the superstructure was by no means free from danger
and excitement. The working space both on the tower itself and around
the base was severely cramped. The men at the latter point had to
keep a vigilant eye upon those working above, since, despite the most
elaborate precautions, falls of tools and other heavy bodies were
by no means infrequent. Notwithstanding its perilous character, the
undertaking was free from accident and fatality, and, although the men
were compelled by force of circumstances to depend mostly upon salt
foodstuffs, the little colony suffered very slightly from the ravages
of dysentery.

Probably the worst experience was when the men on the rock were
weather-bound for seven weeks during one season. The weather broke
suddenly. Heavy seas and adverse winds raged so furiously that the
steamboat dared not put out of its haven, but remained there with steam
up, patiently waiting for a lull in the storm, during which they might
succour the unfortunate men on the reef. The latter passed a dreary,
pitiable time. Their provisions sank to a very low level, they ran
short of fuel, their sodden clothing was worn to rags, and, what was
far worse from their point of view, their tobacco became exhausted.
The average working man will tolerate extreme discomfort and privation
so long as the friendship of his pipe remains, but the denial of this
companion comes as the last straw.

The lantern is of special design, and is one of the most powerful
around the Scottish coasts. It is of the revolving class, reaching its
brightest state once every minute, and may be seen from the deck of a
vessel eighteen miles away Six years were occupied in the completion of
the work, and, as may be imagined, the final touches were welcomed with
thankfulness by all those who had been concerned in the enterprise. The
tower contains 4,308 tons of granite, and the total cost was £86,977,
or $434,885, rendering it one of the costliest in the world. This sum,
however, included the purchase of the steam-vessel which now attends
the lighthouse, and the construction of the little harbour at Hynish.

The lighthouse-keepers live on the island of Tyree, where are provided
substantial, spacious, single-floor, masonry dwellings with gardens
attached. This is practically a small colony in itself, inasmuch as
the accommodation includes, not only that for the keepers of the
Skerryvore, but for the guardians of the Dhu-Heartach light as well.



CHAPTER VIII

THE LONELY LIGHTS OF SCOTLAND


Barren ruggedness, ragged reefs, and towering cliffs form an apt
description of the north and west coasts of Scotland, and he is a
prudent navigator who acknowledges the respect which these shores
demand, by giving them a wide berth. The Norwegian coast is serrated,
the island of Newfoundland may be likened to the battered edge of a
saw, but Scotland is unique in its formation. The coastline is torn
and tattered by bays and firths, with scattered outlying ramparts. The
captain of a “tramp” who has sailed the seven seas once confessed to me
that no stretch of coastline ever gave him the shivers so badly as the
stretch of shore between Duncansby Head and the Mull of Kintyre.

Certainly a ship “going north about” is menaced every mile of her way
between these two points unless she takes a very circuitous course.
If the weather conditions are favourable and daylight prevails, the
North of Britain may be rounded through the narrow strait washing the
mainland and the Orkney Islands, but the Pentland Firth is not an
attractive short-cut. The ships that run between Scandinavian ports and
North America naturally follow this route, as it is several hundred
miles shorter than that via the North Sea and English Channel; but they
keep a sharp eye on the weather and are extremely cautious. When the
Pentland Firth is uninviting, they may either choose the path between
the Orkneys and the Shetlands, or, to eliminate every element of risk,
may stand well out to sea, and round the most northern stretches of the
Shetlands. These are lonely seas, comparatively speaking, and yet are
well lighted. Although a wicked rock lies in the centre of the eastern
entrance to the Pentland channel, it is indicated by the Pentland
Skerries light. When the mariner in his wisdom pushes still farther
north, he falls within the glare of the rays thrown from the beacon
near Muckle Flugga. This is the northernmost point of the British
Islands, and it is truly forbidding. The rock lies three-quarters of a
mile off the Shetland Islands, and is a huge fang, sheering to a height
of 196 feet above high-water. On the side facing north it rears up so
abruptly that it appears to lean over, while on the opposite side it is
almost as steep.

The majority of lighthouses have been called into existence by the
claims of commerce purely and simply. But it was not so with the North
Unst lighthouse, as the beacon crowning this pinnacle is called. War
was responsible for its creation, though probably sooner or later the
requirements of peace would have brought about a similar result. While
the armies of France and Britain were fighting the Russians in the
Crimea, the British fleet was hovering about these waters, watching
the mouth of the Baltic, so as to frustrate any attempts on the part
of the Russian fleet to dash around the northern coast of Scotland.
In those days these lonely seas were badly lighted, and the Admiralty
realized only too well the many perils to which the warships were
exposed while cruising about the pitiless coasts of the Orkneys and
Shetlands. Accordingly, the department called upon the Commissioners of
Northern Lighthouses to mark Muckle Flugga. Time was everything, and
the engineers were urged to bring a temporary light into operation with
the least delay.

The engineers hurriedly evolved a tower which would meet the Government
needs. It was thought that the extreme height of the rock would lend
itself to the erection of a building which, while possible of early
completion, would be adequate for subsequent purposes. The materials
for the light, together with a lantern, and a second building for the
storage of the oil and other requisites, were shipped northward from
Glasgow. Simultaneously the engineers, with another small gang of
men who had already reached the rock, pushed on with the preliminary
preparations, so that when the constructional vessel arrived erection
might go ahead straightforwardly and rapidly.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

THE DHU-HEARTACH LIGHTHOUSE.

To the left is the lower part of the temporary structure in which the
builders lived while erection was in progress.]

The engineers tried the rock from all sides to find a safe landing.
This was no light matter, owing to the steepness of the slope even upon
the easiest face of the pinnacle. The attempt represented a mild form
of mountaineering, for the sea had battered away the projection of the
lower-lying levels, and the men found it trying to effect a foothold,
even in stepping from the boat on to the rock. They had to climb hand
over hand up the precipice, with life-lines round their waists, taking
advantage of every narrow ledge. With infinite labour they gained the
summit, and then they found that there was just sufficient space, and
no more, upon which to plant the lighthouse buildings.

The top was cleared quickly, and then the advance party set to work
to improve the landing-place on the south side of the rock for the
reception of the building materials. A small site was prepared with
great difficulty, as the tough rock offered a stern resistance to the
chisels, drills, and wedges; while in addition the men had to cut steps
in the flank of the rock to facilitate the ascent to the site.

On September 14, 1854, the constructional vessel _Pharos_ hove in
sight, and, the weather being favourable, the landing of the material
was hurried forward. The men had to become pack-animals for the
time, carrying the loads on their backs. In this manner they tramped
laboriously up and down the cliff-face with material and stores of all
descriptions. The heavier and bulkier parts were hauled up by rope and
tackle, a few feet at a time, and this task was quite as exacting.
In all, 120 tons were conveyed to the top of the crag. Construction
was hastened just as feverishly, and on October 11, 1854, twenty-six
days after the _Pharos_ anchored off Muckle Flugga, the North Unst
light shone out for the first time. This is probably one of the most
brilliant exploits that has ever been consummated in connection with
lighthouse engineering, the merit of which is additionally impressive
from the fact that almost everything had to be accomplished by manual
effort.

While the light was admittedly of a temporary character, the importance
of the outpost had been appreciated, and it was determined to erect a
permanent light upon the rock for the guidance of those who compass
the North of Scotland in order to pass from and to the North Atlantic.
It was decided to commence the permanent masonry building the
following year, and a gang of men volunteered to stay behind on the
rock throughout the winter to complete all the essential preparations
for the foundations. Accommodation was available for this staff in a
substantial iron shelter, in which they made themselves comfortable for
the winter.

But it is during this season that the winds from the north, lashing
the sea to fury, create huge rollers which thunder upon the base
of the pinnacle to crawl up its perpendicular face in the form of
broken water and spray. The men standing on the brink often watched
these rollers, but never for a moment thought that one would be able
to leap to a height of nearly 200 feet and sweep over the rock. The
December gales dispelled this illusion very convincingly. One morning
the workmen, while breakfasting in their warm shelter, received a
big surprise. A terrific blow struck the door, which flew open as if
hit by a cannon-ball. It was followed instantly by a three-foot wall
of water. The broken wave rushed round the apartment, seething and
foaming, and then out again. The workmen were dumbfounded, but had
scarcely recovered from the shock when another roll of water came
crashing in and gave the apartment another thorough flushing out. One
of the Scottish workmen vouchsafed the remark that the man responsible
for cleaning the floors that day would be spared his job, but he was
silenced when, a few seconds later, another angry sheet of water
dropped on the roof of the building and threatened to smash it in.

[Illustration: THE NORTH UNST, BRITAIN’S MOST NORTHERLY LIGHT.

The tower is perched on the top of a precipitous crag, the light being
260 feet above the sea. Despite this height, the waves often dash over
the lantern.]

The closing month of that year was particularly boisterous. Time after
time when the sea rose, the lighthouse tower was drenched in water. One
might think it impossible that a wave could get up sufficient impetus
to mount a height of 200 feet; but this experience offered conclusive
testimony to the contrary and to the immense power of the waves when
they have an uninterrupted run over several hundred miles of open ocean.

In a way, the terrifying experience of these marooned workmen was
invaluable. They reported the bare facts to the engineers upon the
first opportunity, and this intelligence brought about a revision in
the designs for the permanent masonry structure.

The present North Unst lighthouse is a massive masonry building,
standing in the centre of the small flat space on the top of the
pinnacle, with heavy masonry walls bounding it on all sides. The tower
is 64 feet in height, while the red and white light may be seen from a
distance of twenty-one miles in clear weather. That the winter storms
of 1854 were by no means exceptional has been proved up to the hilt on
several occasions since. When the nor’-wester is roused thoroughly,
the breaking waves curl up the cliff and rush over the lantern. Such a
climb of 260 feet conveys a compelling notion of the force of the sea.
The weight of the water thrown into the air has threatened to overthrow
the massive boundary walls, while now and again the invader leaves
tangible evidences of its power by smashing the windows of the lantern.
Upon one occasion it burst open the heavy door, which weighs the best
part of a ton.

The light-station is served by four keepers, two on duty
simultaneously, their homes being on the island of Unst, four miles
away. For the conveyance of water, fuel, provisions, and other
requirements, from the landing-stage to the lighthouse 200 feet above,
an inclined railway has been provided on the easier slope, so that the
men are no longer called upon to pack their provisions, like mules,
from the water-level up a steep cliff, as was formerly required.

Rounding these island dangers, the navigator picks up the light of Cape
Wrath, glimmering from a height of 370 feet above the water-level and
standing at the western corner of the rectangular head of the Scottish
mainland. Going south, he has two passages available--the inner, which
extends through the Minches and inside the Hebrides; or the outer,
which lies beyond the latter rampart. In making the outer passage he
comes within range of the light shining from the summit of a lonely
group of rocks standing some twenty-two miles out to sea off the Isle
of Lewis. These are the Flannen Islands, or Seven Hunters, one of many
similar lonely Scottish stations. The tower is mounted upon the crown
of one of the highest points, and the white group-flashing light is
visible over a radius of twenty-four miles. Farther south the seafarer
picks up and drops the Monach Islands light, likewise lying out in the
Atlantic, some ten miles from the nearest land. Finally, rounding Barra
Head, the most southerly point of the reef lying off Barra Island, the
light from which is cast 580 feet above the water owing to the height
of the cliff, the vessel slips into a huge indentation, where isolated
rocks peep above the Atlantic, one of the most dangerous of which is
indicated by the Skerryvore lighthouse.

I have described the Skerryvore light in the previous chapter; but
nineteen and a half miles to the south-east of the latter is another
reef, just as exposed, which is as perilous in every respect. Indeed,
it may be said to constitute a greater menace to the navigation of
these waters, since it lies in the cross-roads of the entrance to the
Irish Channel, the Firth of the Clyde, and the Minches. A powerful
light mounts guard on the Rhins of Islay, twenty-seven miles due south,
but between the latter and Skerryvore there are forty-three miles of
coast, as dangerous as the mariner could wish to avoid, with this rock
looming up almost halfway.

This peril is the Dhu-Heartach, lying out to sea in deep water,
fourteen miles from the nearest point of the mainland. The physical
configuration of the sea-bed at this point is somewhat similar to
that prevailing at Skerryvore. The Ross of Mull tumbles abruptly into
the Atlantic, to reappear out to sea in the form of the Torrin Rocks,
which run for a distance of four and a half miles in the direction of
Dhu-Heartach. Then the reef comes to a sudden stop, to be seen once
more, nine miles farther out, in the rounded hump of Dhu-Heartach,
this being practically the outermost point of the ridge. Being so
isolated and projecting so suddenly from deep water, this ledge claimed
many victims among the vessels frequenting these unlighted waters. The
Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses were assailed for not marking the
danger spot in some form or other. The authorities, however, were fully
alive to the need of such protection, but it was not until 1867 that
they were able to proceed with the erection of a lighthouse.

The situation is peculiar, and the engineers, Messrs. D. and T.
Stevenson, were faced with a somewhat perplexing problem recalling
those which had arisen in conjunction with the Skerryvore, not
far distant. Indeed, the Dhu-Heartach undertaking might very well
be described as a repetition of those struggles, with a few more
difficulties of a different character thrown in. The rock itself in
reality is a series of islets, or hummocks, surrounding the main
hump, which is 240 feet in length by 130 feet in breadth, the highest
point of the rounded top being 35 feet above high-water at ordinary
spring-tides. On all sides the lead marks very deep water, the result
being that in times of storm and tempest the rollers of the Atlantic,
having a “fetch” of some 3,000 miles or more, thunder upon it with
terrific force, the broken water leaping high into the air. It is very
seldom that the rock can be approached even in a small boat and with a
calm sea, as the hump is invariably encircled in a scarf of ugly surf.
The swell strikes the western face of the rock, is divided, flows round
the northern and southern ends of the obstruction, and reunites on
the eastern side. Consequently the rock is nearly always a centre of
disturbance.

The distance of the rock from the mainland complicated the issue very
materially. A suitable site had to be prepared on shore as a base,
where the stones could be prepared for shipment, while a special
steam-tender was necessary to run to and fro. The handling of the
workmen had to be carried out upon the lines which were adopted at
Skerryvore--namely, the erection of a barrack upon a skeleton framework
on the rock, where the men might be left safely for days or weeks at
a time. The shore station selected was at Earraid, on the neighbouring
island of Mull, because it was the nearest strategical point to the
work, and because ample supplies of first-class granite were available
in the immediate vicinity, the proprietor, the Duke of Argyll, as in
the previous instance, facilitating the work as far as possible.

The authority to commence operations was given on March 11, 1867,
and this year was devoted to completing preparations, so that in the
following season work might be started in earnest and carried on
throughout the summer at high pressure. The first task was the erection
of the barrack on the rock. The workmen got ashore for the first time
on June 25, 1867, and, although landing at all times was trying and
perilous, attempts often having to be abandoned owing to the swell,
the engineer succeeded in landing twenty-seven times up to September
3, when work had to be suspended until the following year. Despite
the shortness of the season, the men made appreciable headway. The
iron framework of the barrack was completed to the first tier, while
a good beginning was made upon the rock-face in connection with the
foundations for the lighthouse. When the autumnal gales approached,
everything in connection with the barrack was left secure, the builders
being anxious to ascertain how it would weather the winter gales and
the force and weight of the waves which bore down upon it.

The engineers finally decided upon a tower 107½ feet in height. After
trying various curves for the outline, they came to the decision that a
parabolic frustum would afford the most serviceable design, as well as
providing the maximum of strength. A diameter of 36 feet was chosen for
the base, tapering gradually and gracefully to one of 16 feet at the
top, with the entrance 32 feet above the base, to which point the cone
was to be solid.

The arrangements were that work should be resumed in the early spring
of 1868, so as to secure full advantage of the favourable easterly
winds. Accordingly, when the special steam-tender arrived on April 14,
she was loaded up with necessaries and men, ready to proceed to the
site directly the wind should veer round to the desired point of the
compass. But with aggravating persistency it clung to the west and
south-west until the end of June, so that many valuable weeks were
unfortunately lost. Time after time, when there was a lull in the
weather, the steamer put out from Earraid, the engineers determined to
make a dash for the rock, and as many times they were foiled, as the
men could not be got through the surf. One day, however, an hour and
a half was snatched on the rock, and, although no work could be done
in that time, yet the interval was sufficient to enable the engineers
to take a look round and to see how their handiwork had withstood the
heavy gales of the previous winter. There was only one marked evidence
of the Atlantic’s wrath. One section of the iron ring connecting the
heads of the legs of the barrack at a height of 30 feet had been
carried away.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

THE NORTH UNST LIGHT.

The first light was built in twenty-six days during the Crimean War at
the British Government’s urgent request.]

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

LANDING WATER AT THE NORTH UNST.

Showing tramway connecting with tower, 200 feet above.]

On June 29 the wind moderated sufficiently to enable the men to be
landed, but the climatic conditions remained adverse. The wind refused
to swing round to the east; a westerly swell was the luck day after
day. The engineers had to dodge the ocean as best they could, and some
idea of the handicap under which they laboured may be gathered from
the fact that only four landings were made during the sixty-one days
of May and June. July enabled the greatest number of landings to be
effected--thirteen; while during August and September the men only
gained the rock on twenty-one occasions, making a total of thirty-eight
landings in the course of 153 days.

During this interrupted season, however, the barrack was completed.
It was a massive structure, and resembled a huge iron barrel secured
endwise upon an intricate arrangement of stilts which were heavily
stayed and tied together by diagonals and cross-members. In the two
previous instances where a similar arrangement had been adopted the
temporary dwelling had been wrought in wood, but on this occasion
the engineers decided to adopt iron, as they concluded that a wooden
structure would not fare well against the heavy seas. This was
a fortunate decision, because, as subsequent experience proved, a
wooden barrack would have received very short shrift from the Atlantic
breakers; in fact, probably it would have gone down with the first
sou’-wester. The iron barrack, as the workmen narrated, was pounded and
battered by the waves most unmercifully; but although it suffered at
times, quivering and shaking under the terrific impacts, it weathered
all the onslaughts.

One interesting incident serves to illustrate the perils to which the
workmen were exposed. A date had been set down when all the men were to
be brought off the rock for the season, as the approach of the equinox
rendered further toil extremely doubtful, and there was no intention of
unduly imperilling them. The engineer’s resident representative, Mr.
Alexander Brebner, went out to the rock on August 20, the day fixed for
the suspension of operations, to inspect the progress that had been
made and to have a last look round. At the time of his arrival the
weather was beautifully calm, and held out every promise of remaining
settled for several days. As the season had been so adverse, he
decided, on his own responsibility, to delay the cessation of toil, so,
with the thirteen men, he remained on the rock, determined to make up
leeway somewhat while the weather held out.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

THE FLANNEN ISLANDS LIGHT STATION.

One of Scotland’s lonely beacons. It marks a group of islets 15 miles
off the Hebrides. In 1900 the three keepers mysteriously disappeared,
and their fate remains unsolved to this day.]

But the resident paid the penalty for his disobedience. The little
party retired that night with the stars shining brilliantly overhead
from a cloudless sky, and with the sea like a mirror. In the middle
of the night one and all were roused suddenly from their slumbers.
The wind was roaring, and the breakers were hammering upon the
rock, while the foam and surf rushed violently between the legs of
the barracks. When the men looked out they were confronted with a
terrifying spectacle. The night was black as pitch, but the sea white
as a snow-covered plain, from the crests of the rollers and the surf
playing on and around the rocks. A furious gale had sprung up with the
characteristic suddenness of the Atlantic, and was already raging. The
next morning no one dared to venture outside the iron home, while the
gale, instead of abating, appeared to be increasing in fury. For five
days the men were held fast, and at times their fears got the better of
them. This was particularly the case when, now and again, a more than
ugly wave got up, rolled over the rock, and crashed with full force
against the barrack. The building shook and trembled fearfully, but
its legs were driven too deeply into the rock for it to be overturned,
while the cross-bracing was too intricate for the legs to be snapped
off. Again and again the men were plunged into darkness, as a wall of
water rushed right over the drum, notwithstanding that the roof was 77
feet above high-water.

Their fears rose almost to frenzy when a breaker, leaping the rock,
drove full tilt against the floor of the barrack. In this upward rush
of 55 feet the building suffered. The men’s entrance to the home was
by means of a heavy hatch, or trapdoor, which was bolted securely upon
the inside. This particular comber burst in the hatch as if it were no
thicker than the wood of a matchbox, flooding the whole compartment.

Meantime the engineer-in-chief at Edinburgh had heard of the incident.
He had given strict instructions that the men should be brought off on
August 20, and when the intelligence was communicated to him that his
order had been disobeyed, and that his men were in serious straits,
he became distracted. He knew only too well how the waves bombard
Dhu-Heartach. Mr. David Stevenson related to me how his father paced
the offices during the day, and his own home at night, unable to drown
his thoughts in work or sleep. His worry was intensified as the true
character of the gale came to his ears. He had planned everything
with such care that neither life nor limb of a single workman need
be jeopardized, and here he was confronted with the possibility of
losing fourteen men at one stroke! The iron barrack, although staunchly
constructed, was just as likely as not to succumb to the full brunt of
a very vicious sou’-wester, so there was every excuse for his anxiety.
He gave orders that the steam-tender was to stand by with steam raised,
so as to make a dash for the rock upon the first opportunity. No one
had a moment’s peace until at last the news came through that the
steam-tender had been out to the rock, and with much difficulty had
got hold of the fourteen men and brought them ashore, somewhat scared
and bearing evidences of their experience, but unharmed. Mr. Stevenson
told me that he could not quite say which was worse--the distracted
wanderings of his father, or the expression of his pent-up feelings
when he met the unfortunate resident a few days later, who was taken
severely to task for his flagrant breach of orders, whereby the lives
of the workmen had been imperilled so unnecessarily.

The year 1869 was kinder to the engineers, and great headway was made.
The men were able to make their first landing on the rock as early
as March 25, and it was accessible up to October 29, when all forces
withdrew from the scene for the winter. During this period sixty
landings were effected, while heavy supplies of masonry and other
materials were shipped to the site. The masons took up their permanent
residence in the barrack on April 26, and did not leave it until
September 3, while they were able to squeeze in 113 days of toil, with
a welcome rest from their labours on Sundays. The excavations for the
foundations were completed speedily, and on June 24 the erection of
the tower was commenced. The stones were brought ready for setting in
position, and were laid so rapidly that by the end of the month two
courses were completed and the third had been well advanced. Then came
a temporary setback. A blusterous summer gale sprang up, and the sea,
after assaulting the rock for two days, succeeded in leaving its mark.
The crane and other tackle at the landing-stage were washed away, while
fourteen stones laid in the third course were uprooted, of which eleven
were seen no more. The water in this case had to leap upwards for 35½
feet, while the stones which it carried away weighed 2 tons apiece, and
were firmly joggled, so that the wrench which displaced them must have
been terrific indeed.

If a summer gale could wreak such damage, what was the dreaded equinox
likely to achieve? The engineers were so much impressed that they
thereupon made assurance doubly sure by effecting a modification of the
original plans. When the work was commenced, it was intended to take
the solid part of the tower up to a height of 52 feet 10 inches above
high-water. The effects of this summer gale induced them to continue
the solid section a further 11½ feet, so that the entrance level is 64
feet 4 inches above high-water mark. The result is that the solid base
of the Dhu-Heartach tower weighs no less than 1,840 tons--more than
one-half the total weight of the structure--and is executed throughout
in massive blocks of grey granite.

The tower contains six floors above the entrance hall, these, on
ascending the spiral staircase, being as follows: oil-store, kitchen,
provision-store, bedroom, dry-room, and light-room. The masonry part
of the work was completed by the end of the season of 1871, and the
first-order dioptric, fixed, white light was exhibited on November
1, 1872. The focal plane, being 145 feet above the water-level, has
a range of eighteen nautical miles. The total cost of the work was
£76,084, or $380,420, of which sum the shore station was responsible
for £10,300, or $51,500.

The ocean made an attempt to defeat the workmanship and skill of the
engineers in the very winter following the opening of the lighthouse.
On the lee side of the tower there is a copper lightning-conductor, 1
inch thick by 1½ inches wide, which is let into a channel cut in the
stonework, so that it comes flush with the face of the building. This
conductor is fixed at intervals of 5 feet in a substantial manner. The
winter storms of 1872 tore some 10 feet out of this channel near the
base of the structure, and wrenched the screws from their sockets;
while at the kitchen window level, which is 92 feet above high-water,
the rod was similarly disturbed for some distance. It will be seen that
the waves which assail Dhu-Heartach are by no means to be despised.



CHAPTER IX

THE FASTNET, THE OUTPOST OF EUROPE


Four and a half miles out to sea, separated from Cape Clear, the most
south-westerly point of Ireland, by a treacherous channel, rises the
jagged, formidable shape of the Fastnet. To mariners the rock, with its
brilliant shaft of light by night, has developed into more than a mere
beacon. It is the first and last light of the Old World on the eastward
and westward passages across the Atlantic. All passing vessels are
“spoken” from this point to London, New York, and elsewhere.

It was in the early fifties of the past century that the engineer
conceived the idea of planting a light upon this lonely crag. Maritime
interests had agitated for a beacon for many years previously, since,
although a warning gleam was thrown from the station on Cape Clear,
this ray often was invisible, or partially obscured, owing to the
wreaths of cloud and mist which draped the summit of the headland.
The builder was Mr. George Halpin, engineer to the Port of Dublin
Corporation, which was responsible at that time for the illumination of
the shores of Ireland.

His task was not to be despised. The Fastnet itself is merely a
pinnacle, rising precipitously to a height of about 100 feet above
low-water, but it is the centre of many dangers. It is flanked on all
sides by needle-points and ridges; the currents run strongly, and the
tides are wicked, rendering approach uncertain even in the smoothest
weather.

The indefatigable engineer attacked his task boldly. He chose the
highest point of the rock as the site for his tower, which was a
cast-iron cylindrical building, 91 feet in height. The lantern was
equipped with a revolving apparatus which threw a flash of 38,000
candle-power for fifteen seconds once every two minutes from an
elevation of 148 feet, rotation being obtained through a belt and a
weight-driven clock. Its erection was a tedious undertaking; although
a start was made in 1848, it was not until January 1, 1854, that the
light first cast its welcome rays over the wastes of the Atlantic, by
which time £20,000, or $100,000, had been spent upon the undertaking.

[Illustration:

            _From the “Scientific American.”_

BUILDING THE FASTNET ROCK LIGHTHOUSE.

Looking down from the top of the rock upon the men setting one of the
solid masonry courses.]

For ten years Halpin’s work successfully defied the elements, although
at times the keepers grew somewhat apprehensive concerning its
stability. Time after time, during heavy gales, it seemed as if it
must succumb to the storm. The waves curled up the cliff and struck
the tower with staggering force, causing it to tremble like a leaf.
On one occasion a cup of coffee standing upon the table was thrown to
the floor. While the shaft defied the most severe poundings, the cliff
itself gave way, and large masses of rock on which the tower stood were
carried away. One huge chunk, weighing some 3 tons, was detached, and,
as it slipped down, was picked up by the next incoming wave, to be
hurled with terrific force against the tower, but without inflicting
any marked damage. On another occasion a cask containing 60 gallons
of fresh water, which the keepers had made fast to the railing of the
gallery surrounding the lantern, 133 feet above the water, was wrenched
free by a wave which dashed over the rock, and was swept away as if it
were an empty tin. The keepers’ anxiety under these circumstances may
be understood.

At last, in April, 1865, the consulting engineer to the Corporation
visited the lighthouse in company with Mr. George Stevenson, the famous
Scottish lighthouse builder, to examine the rock thoroughly. The latter
suggested certain recommendations to insure the stability of the tower;
but when the sanction of the Brethren of Trinity House was sought, they
deferred a decision until their own engineer had visited the works,
although they appreciated Mr. Stevenson’s advice.

Some of the recommendations advanced by Mr. Stevenson were followed
subsequently, and this reluctant recognition of his knowledge
brought its reward. The authorities--now the Commissioners of Irish
Lights--had a fright in 1881. The storms of that winter were among
the heaviest that have ever assailed the British Islands. The Calf
Rock light, which was a similar tower to the Fastnet, and which had
been strengthened upon identical lines, came to grief. The tower was
broken off at the point where the reinforcement ceased. This disaster
naturally aroused many misgivings concerning the luck of the Fastnet.
Had it shared a similar fate during the same gale? To their intense
relief, the Commissioners found that it had issued from the conflict
with no more injuries than a few broken panes of glass.

The tower withstood the attacks of wind and wave successfully until
1891, when the Commissioners came to the conclusion that it was time
the Fastnet light was improved, to meet the requirements of the
busier mercantile traffic passing the point. Accordingly, Mr. William
Douglass, the engineer to the Commissioners, recommended a new tower,
fitted with the latest form of illumination, so as to bring it into
line with the other leading lights of the world. He advocated a tower
of masonry with the focal plane at an elevation of 159 feet; the shaft,
147 feet high, springing from a position 6 inches below high-water,
with a diameter at the base of 42 feet. The cost of the light was
estimated at £70,000 or $350,000.

One cannot help admiring the daring of the engineer, since he declined
to be assisted by the rock summit in his purpose. Instead he preferred
the ledge of a chasm on the hardest part of the rock below high-tide,
and directly exposed to the full force of the sea. He maintained that
such a tower, planted on this shelf, would receive the force of the
heaviest seas before they rose to their full height; also by building
the base of the tower in the form of steps, as in the case of a
breakwater, an excellent buffer would be offered to the rollers.

[Illustration: BUILDING THE FASTNET TOWER.

Showing derrick for setting the stones into position.]

[Illustration:

            _The “Scientific American.”_

ERECTING THE FASTNET LANTERN.

This illustration gives a striking idea of its height.]

The new design came at an opportune moment. Another inspection of the
existing tower by Mr. C. W. Scott, the present engineer-in-chief
to the Commissioners, revealed a parlous state of affairs. Halpin’s
building was on the verge of collapse. Many of the plates in the upper
stories had worked loose under the poundings inflicted by the seas, and
in many instances the bolts holding the fabric together were sheared.
Repairs had to be made hastily to enable the old tower to hold out
until the new lighthouse was erected.

Before the work was commenced, the designer, as a result of further
investigation, decided to increase the diameter of his tower to 52 feet
at the base. The lowest courses did not comprise complete rings of
masonry, but were anchored at the points where the circle was broken
into the face of the cliff, so as to form an integral part thereof,
as it were. The depth of this partial ringwork is 26 feet, at which
level the first complete ring of masonry was laid. Thenceforward the
tower is solid throughout its thickness for a further height of 30
feet, except for a central circular space forming the water-tank, which
holds 3,250 gallons of water. From this point the masonry structure
rises gracefully to a height of 88-1/8 feet to the lantern gallery. The
lighthouse is divided into eight floors, affording living-rooms for the
keepers, storerooms for oil, fog-signals, provisions, coal, etc.

The lighthouse, the landing-stage, and other appurtenances, are
executed in Cornish granite throughout. The blocks were fashioned from
picked stone of fine, close, hard grain, and ranged up to 4 and 5 tons
in weight. The method of construction followed the approved lines of
to-day, in which each stone is dovetailed into its neighbour, above,
below, and on either side. As the stones were cut and fitted in the
Cornish quarries, they were set up and fitted course by course. Then,
when they had met the approbation of the engineer deputed for this
duty, they were numbered and given other identification marks, so that
upon reaching the base at Rock Island, upon the Irish mainland, within
easy reach of the Fastnet, they could be despatched in rotation to the
site, to be set in position.

It was in August, 1896, that the first little squad of labourers
landed on the Fastnet, under the superintendence of James Kavanagh,
a first-class all-round mason--one of those men who occupy a unique
position when emergency calls. He was just the type of foreman that the
task demanded, careful, daring, a hard worker, zealous, dauntless. Once
he had landed on the rock to prepare the foundations, he seldom left
it; and, what is more, every stone constituting the tower was well and
truly laid by his own hand. It was indeed unfortunate that Kavanagh,
after his momentous round of toil was over, should be stricken down
with apoplexy, to which he succumbed, after virtually years of
imprisonment upon an ill-famed rock, facing discomforts and privations
of all descriptions, and seizing every opportunity to drive the task
forward. It was as if Nature, baffled in her efforts to circumvent
the work of human ingenuity, had taken revenge upon the man who had
laboured mightily to complete her subjection.

Kavanagh took with him upon the rock a small boiler and steam-winch,
which he set up without delay, to land both workmen and necessaries.
He lost no time in cutting away at the toe of the cliff, to admit the
first partial ring of stones. It was a ding-dong battle between the
masons and the sea for the first few rounds. The men toiled heroically
with their chisels between the coming of the rollers, with one eye
on the water and the other on a handy life-line, which they grabbed
when the Atlantic endeavoured to steal a march upon them. On some
days splendid progress was made; on others the masons never drove the
chisels once into the rock-face.

Landing was an exciting experience in itself. The tender, naturally,
could not draw right in, owing to the swell and other dangers. She
stood off a little way, and there anchored. When men were coming to or
going from the rock, the rope was run out from the derrick. To this
was attached a kind of double stirrup, not unlike a child’s swing. The
men took up their position, two at a time, on these stirrups, standing
face to face. At the command, “Lower away!” or “Heave ho!” the derrick
winch commenced to grunt and rattle, and the men were whisked into
mid-air, clutching tightly to their frail, cramped hold, and steadied
in their aerial journey by another rope extending to the rowing-boat
below. It was an exciting trip while it lasted, and at first glimpse
appeared to be dangerous, so much so that on one or two occasions the
courage of raw hands broke down at the last moment, and they hesitated
to trust themselves to such a flimsy-looking vehicle.

Bringing the stones ashore was even more difficult. It was imperative
that the edges and corners of the blocks should be protected from
blows which might chip and scar them, thereby impairing their true
fit, and possibly allowing the sea to get a purchase in its efforts
to destroy. Accordingly, the blocks were packed in skeleton crates,
with substantial wooden battens completely protecting the vital parts.
It was impossible to swing them singly direct through the air from
steamer to rock, and it was inadvisable to transfer them first to a
rowing-boat; so an ingenious alternative method was perfected. The
tender was brought as near the rock as possible, and the derrick boom
was swung out, so that a hook carried at the end of the rope could be
attached to the stone, which rested on rollers upon the tender’s deck
leading to an open doorway in the taffrail. When the rope was secured,
the word was given to haul in the derrick rope slowly and gently. This
brought the stone gradually to the vessel’s side, when it was permitted
to fall into the water where it could suffer no injury. The derrick
rope meanwhile was wound in, and the stone, still submerged, at last
brought to rest against the side of the tower.

A vertical series of wooden battens had been attached to the outside of
the building, so as to form a slide up which the blocks could be hauled
to the required level. Of course, as the tower increased in height, the
latter part of the operation had to be varied, owing to the concave
curve of the structure. Then the stone had to complete its final stage
through the air, being steadied in its ascent by a rope held below to
prevent it swinging and coming to grief against the completed part of
the shaft. In this manner 2,074 stones, representing a dead-weight of
4,633 tons, were landed and set in position.

Work was painfully slow and tedious at times, owing to adverse weather.
Although the men on the rock were condemned inevitably to periods of
idleness, they were made as comfortable as conditions would permit, so
as to remove any longing on their part to return to the mainland for a
change. This was a necessary precaution. Although the men might leave
the rock in perfectly calm weather, the Atlantic is so fickle that
an interval of two or three hours was quite sufficient to permit the
wind to freshen, and the swell to grow restive, to such a degree as to
render a return to the rock impossible for several days. Owing to the
cramped nature of the quarters on the rock, elaborate care had to be
exercised to protect the men from the ravages of disease. The toilers
had to board themselves, and the authorities demanded that each man
should maintain a fortnight’s reserve supply of provisions upon the
rock to tide him over a spell of bad weather. This rule was enforced
very rigidly, any infringement of it being attended with instant
dismissal. For emergency purposes the Commissioners maintained a small
stock of salt beef, pork, tinned meats, tea, sugar, milk, biscuits,
and so forth, on the rock, from which the men could replenish their
larders. The foreman acted as a kind of medical officer of health, as
well as fulfilling his other duties. He was supplied with a ship’s
medicine-chest, plenty of bandages, liniment, and antiseptics, in case
of accident. At five o’clock every morning the men were compelled to
tumble out of their bunks, to indulge in a thorough wash, to turn their
bedding into the air when the weather was agreeable, and to wash out
their quarters. The strictest supervision was maintained over matters
pertaining to sanitation, and, thanks to these elaborate precautions,
cases of sickness were very few.

Extreme care was observed in the building operations, so that no
workman might be exposed to any unnecessary risks, although the task
at times bristled with unavoidable perils. As a matter of fact, the
whole enterprise was attended by only three accidents on the rock. One
man was cutting a tram-rail, when a piece of steel flew into one eye,
completely blinding it. Another suffered a similar calamity from a chip
of stone while quarrying. The third man met misfortune while at work
at the windlass of the derrick. As a breaker rolled in, his companion
dropped his handle, with the result that the other workman was knocked
down and had one leg broken. There was a true Hibernian flavour about
this last-named accident, in keeping with the setting in which it
occurred. The man was incapacitated for some months, and then brought
an action for compensation, claiming that he had been rendered unfit
for any further manual labour. The sympathetic court solaced him with
an award of £350, or $1,750. The amazement and disgust of the engineer
may be imagined when, three months after the action, he suddenly
espied the supposedly totally incapacitated workman assisting in the
transference of coal from a barge to the tender!

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of the “Scientific American.”_

THE FASTNET, THE OUTPOST OF EUROPE.

On the top of the rock is the first light, opened in 1854. At the side
is the present noble tower, completed in 1906. The flashing beam of
750,000 candle-power has a range of 20 miles.]

As the tower grew above the existing building, which it was to exceed
in height, it obscured the light thrown from the latter in a certain
direction. At this juncture, accordingly, a temporary scaffolding was
erected upon the summit of the new shaft, on which were rigged two
ordinary lightship lights, and these were kept going until the new
lantern was completed. The last stone was set on June 3, 1903, after
some four years’ labour.

During the winter everything was brought virtually to a standstill,
owing to the succession of gales, but the men on the rock never
missed an opportunity to advance the undertaking. Kavanagh, the
foreman, absolutely refused to go ashore so long as any work could be
completed. Often he remained on the Fastnet the whole year round, and
never was away for more than two months in the year, when work was
impossible. Other workmen, when they had lived down the first feelings
of loneliness, became imbued with the same spirit, and appeared loth
to forsake the scene of their labours even for a day or two. When
the men settled down to their toil, it was very seldom that a wish was
expressed to be taken ashore more than once in three months.

The lantern was undertaken directly the stonework was completed. The
landing of this apparatus was an exciting task, for, the season being
advanced, it was decided to run unusual risks, lest the rock should
become unapproachable. It was accomplished successfully, and the
various parts were stored on the rock in what was considered a safe
place. The weather looked fine and gave no signs of breaking; yet two
hours after all had been inspected and secured for the night a terrific
gale sprang up, and the rock was enveloped in water, which dashed right
over it. The waves caught some of the lantern apparatus and smashed
it; other parts were carried away and never seen again. This was an
unexpected catastrophe. The remaining damaged parts of the apparatus
were sent back to Birmingham to be overhauled and the missing portions
replaced.

As there was no possibility of being able to complete the lantern that
winter, and the authorities did not like to entrust the marking of
the rock solely to the temporary lightship lights--the lantern of the
Halpin tower had been taken down meanwhile--it was thereupon decided to
erect the dismantled old lamp in the new tower for the time being.

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Messrs. Chance Bros. & Co., Ltd._

THE LANTERN OF THE FASTNET ROCK LIGHTHOUSE.

It consists of two tiers each of four panels of 920 millimetres focal
distance.]

The next summer the new apparatus was got on to the rock and erected
safely. The light is of the dioptric type, derived from a series of
incandescent burners, giving a total power of 1,200 candles. This part
of the installation is the invention of the chief engineer to the
Commissioners, Mr. C. W. Scott, and it has proved to be one of the most
perfect and economical devices of this type yet submitted to practical
operations. The oil is vaporized by being passed through a spraying
device under pressure, similar to the forced carburation in automobile
practice, and the gas is fed to the Bunsen burners. The lenses,
together with their revolving apparatus, weigh 13,440 pounds, and
rotate upon a bed of mercury under the fall of a weight of 290 pounds,
which descends 40 feet per hour, this being sufficient to secure
three complete revolutions per minute. In case the incandescent gas
installation should break down from any cause, a four-wick oil-burner
is held in reserve, and can be brought into action instantly. The
power of the rays thrown from the 1,200 candle-power burners is
intensified by the lenses to some 750,000 candle-power, of extremely
white brilliancy, recalling the beam thrown by an electric searchlight.
The flash, of three-twenty-fifths of a second’s duration, recurs every
five seconds, and on a clear night the light is readily distinguishable
from a distance of twenty miles, while its reflection in the sky may be
observed from a considerably greater distance.

The erection of this lighthouse was not without one humorous incident.
While the lantern apparatus was being set in position, a plumber was
sent to the rock. He spent one day and night there, a period that
proved to be more than enough for him. The murmuring of the waves lost
all their musical glamour for him when he was imprisoned on a wild,
isolated, wind-and-wave-swept eyrie. He did not get a wink of sleep,
and was scared nearly out of his wits. When morning broke, and the
men were turned out of their bunks, the plumber expressed his fixed
determination to return to the shore at once. His companions laughed at
his fears, ridiculed his anxieties, coaxed and upbraided him in turn.
It was of no avail. He would not do another stroke of work. Realizing
the hopelessness of such a workman, the engineer in charge signalled
the mainland for assistance. The steamer could not put out, but the
lifeboat, not understanding the import of such an unusual call, made
the dangerous pull to the rock, to ascertain what was the matter. When
they found that it was to take off a scared workman, their feelings
may be imagined. The demoralized plumber was bundled into the lifeboat
and rowed back to shore. The blood did not return to his face, nor did
he collect his scattered wits, until he planted his two feet firmly on
the mainland, when he very vehemently and picturesquely expressed his
determination never to accept a job in such a forsaken place again.

The old tower was reduced to the level of its solid base, and converted
into an oil-store. The finishing touches were applied to the new
tower, and on June 27, 1906, the scintillating and penetrating ray of
the present Fastnet was shown for the first time. It is a magnificent
light, and, being the latest expression of British lighthouse
engineering upon a large scale, compels more than passing interest.
The light is fully in keeping with the importance of the spot it
marks, and the £84,000, or $420,000, which it cost has been laid out
to excellent purpose. The light and fog-signal station is tended by
six keepers, four being on the rock simultaneously, and two ashore.
The latter constitute the relief, which is made twice a month if the
weather permits, the service being one month on the rock, followed by
a fortnight on shore. One keeper has day duty, maintaining a lookout
for fog and to signal passing ships; two are on duty at night, the one
having charge of the light and its operation, while his comrade devotes
his attention to signalling ships and watching the weather. When a mist
creeps over the light, the fourth keeper is called up to manipulate
the explosive fog-signal. The lighthouse, being an important landfall,
is a signalling-station for Lloyd’s, and is also fitted with wireless
telegraphy, wherewith the movements of outgoing and incoming vessels
are reported to the mainland for notification to all parts of the
world.



CHAPTER X

LIGHTHOUSES BUILT ON SAND


While the greater number of the most famous sea-lights have been
erected upon the solid foundation offered by rock, in one or two
instances notable works have been consummated upon sand. The two most
remarkable achievements in this particular field of enterprise are the
Rothersand lighthouse, off the coast of Germany, in the North Sea, and
the Fourteen Foot Bank, in Delaware Bay, U.S.A.

The Rothersand light became necessary owing to the expansion of the
German mercantile marine and the development of the ports of the
Weser and Elbe. The estuary of the Weser River is hemmed in by shoals
and sandbanks, similar to those found at the entrance to Liverpool,
London, and New York, rendering navigation extremely hazardous under
the most favourable circumstances. Bremerhaven, on the Weser, had been
selected as the home port for the North German Lloyd Atlantic liners,
but it was threatened with abandonment unless the entrance to the
waterway should undergo improvement. It was of no avail to dredge a
deep channel through the treacherous ridges of sand, if the general
proximity of the shoal were left unmarked. Consequently, in order to
secure the interests of Bremerhaven, it was decided by the three border
States--Prussia, Oldenburg, and Bremen--to provide a powerful light at
this danger-point. The financial problem was solved by the agreement to
levy a special tax upon all vessels entering the Weser, to defray the
cost of providing the safeguard.

The undertaking was somewhat formidable. The shoal, being of soft
sand, was liable to erosion and movement, owing to fluctuating and
changing currents. Then, again, the proposed site, some thirty miles
from Bremerhaven and about halfway between that port and the island
of Heligoland, was exposed to the assaults of the North Sea, where
even slight breezes ruffle the water considerably. From the soundings
and observations that were made, it was evident that the foundations
would have to be carried down to a great depth, and that ordinary
systems of construction were quite impracticable. At this juncture the
Society Harkort of Duisburg, which had accumulated great experience in
subaqueous work, was approached and asked if it would undertake the
enterprise at its own risk. This was tantamount to a “no cure, no pay”
proposal. If they succeeded, they would be rewarded for their labours;
if they failed, they would have to face a heavy loss.

This firm, after careful deliberation, allowed that the work could
be accomplished, but in one way only. This was to construct a huge
caisson--practically a gigantic barrel of steel--on shore, to launch
and tow it to the site, and there to lower it until it rested on the
bottom. Then, by a removal of the sand from beneath this caisson, it
could be sunk to a great depth, and, the interior being filled with
concrete, a huge artificial core of rock would be created, capable of
supporting a tower. This system is employed extensively in connection
with bridge-building operations, and the firm entertained no doubts
concerning its feasibility at Rothersand. The society accordingly
prepared its designs, and advanced an estimate for the cost of the work.

At this juncture an unexpected competitor appeared on the scene. One of
the engineers engaged in the preparation of the Harkort designs severed
his connection with that firm, and, securing the collaboration of two
engineering colleagues, established a rival concern, which tendered for
the contract. They would follow the same lines, but would complete it
for £22,750, or $113,750, instead of £24,025, or $120,125, asked by the
Duisburg firm. The lower price was accepted, the more readily since it
included the foundations, whereas the Society Harkort set these down as
an extra. Naturally, the society was somewhat chagrined at this turn of
events, after all the trouble and care it had taken to discover the
most satisfactory solution of the problem, but subsequently it had good
reason not to regret its loss.

The new engineers set to work and during the winter of 1880-81
constructed a huge caisson, which was launched and on May 22 of the
latter year started down the Weser in charge of tugs. Then came a whole
string of accidents. One night the unwieldy fabric got adrift and
drove its nose into a sandbank, where it settled down with the tide.
The towing cables were attached once more, and after a great struggle
the structure was extricated on the next high-tide, and resumed its
journey. Reaching the site without further incident, it was lowered by
admitting the water within the barrel. But this task being accomplished
somewhat crudely, the water rushed in with such force that the caisson
commenced to spin round like a top, as well as bobbing up and down
like an angler’s float. It threatened to topple over and founder every
moment, but, luckily keeping upright, finally touched bottom. Lowering
was completed. Night having approached, workmen made themselves
comfortable on the caisson, while the constructional steamer stood off
and cast its anchor.

The men on the caisson, however, experienced one of the most
sensational nights in their lives. As the tide rose, they found their
novel home to be behaving somewhat curiously. It moved, and then heeled
over. This was an alarming state of affairs, especially as the list
gradually became worse and worse. They shouted frantically for help,
but, a heavy fog having descended upon the shoal, their cries were
absorbed by the white pall. At last the caisson careened over to such
a degree that the men could not keep their feet, while the depressed
edge was in danger of being submerged. The men crawled to the opposite
or elevated side, and held on for their lives, expecting every moment
that the structure would give a heave and roll over. It was a terribly
anxious time for them, and at last, when the constructional steamer
came alongside in the morning, they scuttled down the ropes from their
perilous perch to the deck below, thankful for having escaped, as they
thought, a certain watery grave.

The engineers spared no effort to save their work. They were harassed
at every tide because the water rose above the depressed edge and
flooded the interior. With all speed the wall at this point was
increased in height, so as to prevent inundation. Then, stormy weather
having cut away the sand under the elevated side, the structure
gradually righted itself. When it had regained its vertical position,
it was found that no serious damage had been done, but rather that the
engineers had profited, inasmuch as the caisson had buried itself some
16 feet into the sand.

Winter was approaching, and so the engineers crowded on every man and
effort possible, in order to get the structure sunk to the requisite
level before work would have to be abandoned for the season. They
departed from the engineer’s axiom, “Make haste slowly,” and paid the
penalty. When the bad weather broke, compelling the return of all the
workmen to shore, the fabric was left insecure. The lower part had been
given its filling of concrete, but above a certain level the fabric
depended only upon the iron shell of the cylinder. It was stiffened
as much as possible with cross-timbers and bracing, but the elements
soon made short work of this puny defence. The North Sea, in common
with the other large stretches of water throughout the world, was
swept by terrible storms that winter, and one morning, when the sea
was scanned from shore through glasses, strange to say the caisson was
nowhere to be seen. All sorts of rumours were circulated to account
for its disappearance, among others being a sensational theory that
the caisson, having reached swampy ground while being sunk, had simply
dropped suddenly into the submarine quagmire, and had been swallowed
up completely. But the divers, when they could get out to the site and
could venture into the ocean depths, returned to the surface with a
very different story. The waves had snapped off the top of the caisson
at the upper level of the concrete within, and had carried it away.
Thus ended summarily the first attempt to build a lighthouse upon the
red sand at the entrance to the River Weser.

[Illustration:

            _Photo by permission of the North German Lloyd S.S. Co._

THE ROTHERSAND LIGHTHOUSE.

This magnificent light marks a dangerous shoal in the estuary of the
Weser. The masonry tower is built upon a massive concrete caisson
driven deeply into the sand.]

The project, however, was not abandoned. The Society Harkort was
approached once more, and requested to undertake the work upon its
own terms. The invitation was accepted, but the firm, realizing the
abnormal risks incidental to the enterprise, revised their price, so
as to provide for contingencies. It demanded a sum of £42,650, or
$213,250, in return for which it undertook to supply a fully-equipped
lighthouse less the illuminating apparatus. The terms were accepted,
but the responsible authorities, having suffered a heavy loss from
the first failure, decided to protect themselves against a similar
disaster, so exacted a bond for £12,000, or $60,000, to be returned
when the work should be completed and accepted by the Government. The
Society Harkort, on its part, reserved the right to withdraw from the
undertaking in the event of the caisson sharing the fate which overtook
the first structure.

The contracts were signed in September, 1882, and the task was
commenced. The first disaster was a blessing in disguise, for the new
engineers were able to turn the mistakes of their predecessors to
advantage. They designed a caisson of oval shape, with pointed ends,
measuring 46 feet in length by 36 feet wide. It was an elaborate,
staunch structure, towering to a height of 60¾ feet when launched. At
a height of 8 feet from the bottom edge was a massive flooring built
of iron. The space below constituted the area in which the men were to
work upon the sea-bed, excavating the sand under compressed air, while
the lower rim was a cutting edge, so as to facilitate the sinking of
the mass as the sand was removed. The upper part of the caisson was
divided into four floors, each of which was set aside for a specific
purpose. The lowest was the concrete-mixing chamber; that above carried
the machinery and boilers; the third floor formed the living-quarters
for the men who worked and slept on the structure; while the top floor
formed a deck, and carried two powerful cranes whereby the material
was lifted from the boats which drew alongside. Of course, when the
caisson had been lowered into the water and was eating its way deeper
and deeper into the sand, these platforms had to be moved higher and
higher from time to time, as the base of the tun became filled with
concrete, the outer walls of the fabric being increased to keep the top
well above high-water mark.

When the caisson was completed on shore and sent into the water, it
was an impressive-looking monster. The shell itself weighed 245½ tons,
and with the various accessories aboard the weight was brought up to
some 335 tons. It then had to be loaded down to the required depth for
towing, for which purpose ballast in the form of pig-iron, concrete,
and bricks, to the extent of another 245 tons, was stowed aboard, while
delicate precautions were taken to maintain stability. The combined
efforts of 120 men, working day and night for 127 days, were required
to erect this caisson, and on April 1, 1883, it was ready for its
transportation to the site.

The towing operation was extremely difficult, and the voyage out was
full of exciting incident. It was possible to advance only on the
ebb-tide, and the towing cables, 5 inches in diameter, were specially
manufactured for the operation. Two of the most powerful tugs owned
by the North German Lloyd Steamship Company were requisitioned, three
other steamers engaged in the conveyance of requirements between tower
and shore accompanying the procession. Although the engineers were
ready, the weather, with aggravating persistence, refused to clear
sufficiently to produce the smooth sea and calm demanded for the
safe journey of the ungainly craft. Day after day slipped by, with
eighty men on the alert, and with fires banked and steam raised on
the vessels, ready to weigh anchor at the first favourable moment.
Fifty-five days passed before the weather bureau recommended that the
conditions were suitable. Under the foregoing circumstances the expense
of this delay may be realized.

[Illustration: THE FOURTEEN-FOOT BANK LIGHTHOUSE, BUILT ON SAND.

The erection of this structure constitutes a brilliant achievement in
United States lighthouse engineering.]

Directly the intimation was conveyed that the tow could be attempted,
there was a scene of indescribable activity and bustle in the
Bremerhaven dock, where the caisson was moored. Full steam was raised
on the tugs, and at half-past three in the morning of May 26 the mighty
steel barrel moved out of the dock. The towing ropes were hitched on,
and very slowly the “Colossus,” as the caisson was named, moved down
the harbour, accompanied by the whole fleet of nine vessels engaged
in construction work, so that the procession was imposing. It dropped
down the river without incident, when, the tide turning, anchor was
cast, and all was made fast until another advance could be made at
four o’clock in the afternoon. But the rising tide was stronger than
had been anticipated, and trouble was soon encountered. The caisson,
pressed by the current, dragged and strained at the two tugs by which
she was being towed, causing them to slip their anchors. It was an
anxious moment. The two vessels could not hold the “Colossus”; in fact,
they were being towed backwards by it. Hurriedly another tug was called
up, and helped in the effort; but although the three steamers put on
full steam ahead, they failed to keep the mass in check. Another tug
was signalled, and then, under the combined effort of 350 horse-power,
driving for all it was worth against the current, the four vessels
mastered the swing of the scurrying water, and had the “Colossus” under
control.

A little later the procession continued on its way to the North
Sea, but when the boats came up with the Hoheweg lighthouse further
disquieting news was received. The keepers signalled that the barometer
was falling, and that a thunderstorm was hurrying across the North
Sea from England. Anchors were thrown out hurriedly, and everything
made snug and tight for the approaching storm. It burst with fearful
severity. The waves got up, the wind blew with fiendish velocity in
terrifying gusts, and the rain tumbled down in sheets. The engineers
were on tenterhooks the whole hour and a half the storm raged, as they
foresaw lively times if the unmanageable hulk broke loose. But the
“Colossus” rode the gale as quietly as if moored to a wharf in dock.
The storm, however, upset all calculations for the day. There was no
possibility of getting the caisson out and sunk before nightfall, so
the engineers prepared to pass the night at anchor, and to start off
again with the dawn. The weather, ruffled by the thunderstorm, refused
to settle down until a further day and night had been wasted. Then, at
7.30 in the morning, on a favourable tide, anchors were weighed, and,
steaming hard through a broken sea, the tugs conveyed the caisson on
its journey. At last the procession reached the buoy marking the site.
The caisson was brought to rest, the water was admitted gently through
the valves, and slowly, steadily, and vertically, the shell sank lower
and lower, until a scarcely perceptible shock conveyed the intimation
that it had touched bottom.

The most anxious part of the task was consummated with complete
success: the caisson had been got to the site and sunk. Then the task
of burying it deeply and irremovably in the sand was hurried forward.
Workmen descended into the space beneath the bottom floor and the
sea-bed. Under compressed air they excavated the sand within the
area to permit the cutting edge to sink lower and lower. The sand,
as removed, was lifted to the top of the “Colossus” and discharged
overboard. Meanwhile the concrete-mixing machine got busy, and the
stone heart of the tun was fashioned rapidly. Under this increasing
weight the sinking operation was assisted very appreciably. By the
middle of October the work had been advanced to such a stage that
the total weight of the structure had been increased to over 3,350
tons, and the top deck of the caisson, which had grown in height by
the attaching of successive rings of plates, was about 99 feet above
the cutting edge, which had buried itself to a depth of 51 feet below
low-water. Then work had to be abandoned, as the autumnal gales
sprang up. The whole of the staff, with the exception of two men,
who mounted guard over the work, were taken back to Bremerhaven. The
gales increased in fury, culminating in a tempest similar to that
which had destroyed the first caisson. Remembering the fate of that
enterprise under such fearful pounding from wind and wave, the Harkort
engineers naturally were somewhat anxious concerning the welfare of
their handiwork under identical conditions. But the new creation was
overwhelmingly strong where its predecessor was weak, although the
seas, baffled in their efforts to upset the caisson, did not fail to
leave their mark by knocking the superstructure and scaffolding about
somewhat, as well as carrying away a few weighty pieces of the top
hamper.

Work was resumed in February, 1884, and continued more or less
regularly until November. Interruptions were of frequent occurrence, so
that only about one-quarter of the time available could be turned to
useful account. The structure which had been towed out of Bremerhaven
a year previously had disappeared from sight, the rim of the barrel
built on dry land being about 4 feet below water; but, of course,
as the work proceeded and the caisson sank, its walls were extended
upwards, as already explained. When the structure had been sunk to
its designed depth, the steel shell was 107½ feet in height, from the
cutting edge to the top projecting above the water, and nearly 40
feet of its height was buried in the Rothersand. To sink it to this
level required the removal of 3,000 cubic yards of sand from beneath
the bottom floor of the structure; while 49,100 tons of material were
brought out from Bremerhaven and built into the steel shell to render
it a solid elliptical mass, with the exception of a short central
hollow space which has a narrow conduit connection with the outer sea,
and which, fitted with a float, acts as a tide-gauge which may be read
in the lighthouse. From this massive concrete pedestal rises the tower
proper, which at the base is circular, with a diameter of 33¾ feet.
This base rises in the form of a graceful concave curve to a height of
26 feet, and is solid except for two water-tanks. At the entrance level
the tower is 23 feet in diameter. Above this are disposed four floors,
comprising the cellar, storeroom, kitchen, and living-quarters for the
men, crowned by the lantern, the gallery of which is 80½ feet above
low-water.

The external appearance of this interesting lighthouse is somewhat
different from the general conception of such a building. Instead of
being merely a circular top and lantern, there are three semicircular
turret-like projections on the dwelling-room and lantern levels, which
serve for directing and warning lights as well as for a lookout station.

The fickle character of the North Sea where it rolls over the
Rothersand is reflected by an experience which befell the Harkort
engineer and the superintendent of erection for the authorities, who
wished to complete his duty of inspection. The finishing touches were
being applied, a squad of twelve workmen being in the tower to continue
the work during the winter. The early December day was fair and the
sea smooth, as well as giving every indication of remaining quiescent
for some hours. The superintendent had arranged to spend his Christmas
holidays with some friends, and desired to complete his duty in good
time, so that his sojourn might be free from care. The two started off
in the steamer, and landed without effort. But while they were engaged
in their work of inspection the wind and sea freshened, so that a boat
could not be sent from the steamer to take them off. It was an amusing
situation which was keenly enjoyed at Bremerhaven; but all would be
right on the morrow, said everyone. But the next day the weather was
worse, and continued so for day after day. When a fortnight had passed
without it being possible to succour the weather-bound engineers,
amusement gave way to anxiety, more especially as a signal was flying
from the tower which conveyed the unwelcome intelligence that one of
the workmen had fallen ill. The feelings of the superintendent may
be imagined. He had visions of spending his Yuletide in a draughty,
half-finished lighthouse tower, where comfort was conspicuous by its
absence, and where seasonal fare such as he had been anticipating
keenly was unknown. But on December 21 the constructional engineers,
having grown impatient with the weather, sent out one of their boats,
with instructions to bring everyone ashore at all hazards. The waves
were running high and the wind was gusty, but the steamer anchored as
near the lighthouse as she dared, and by means of her boats, which were
in momentary danger of being swamped, brought off the two engineers as
well as all the workmen except two. The latter remained behind as a
guard, and, being given a good stock of seasonal provisions and other
necessities, were left in their splendid isolation. The superintendent,
after all, was able to enjoy his Christmas holidays.

The succeeding spring brought a resumption of toil, and by September
the tower was completed except for the illuminating apparatus. One
feature was observed during construction and had to receive attention.
The free swing of the currents and tides, being obstructed by the
tower, had commenced heavy erosion, big hollows being scooped out
of the soft sea-bed around the caisson. As it was quite possible
that in the course of time this scouring might imperil the safety
of the building, protective works had to be undertaken. These were
of an elaborate character, and comprised the sinking of mattresses,
fashioned from brushwood, around the foundations, upon which were
dumped boatloads of broken stone. This mattress had to be nearly 50
feet in width, and in some places about 15 feet in thickness. For
this protective work alone some 176,550 cubic feet of brushwood, and
600 tons of block-stone to hold it down, were used. These measures,
however, effectually overcame the danger of erosion.

On November 1, 1885, the light was shown for the first time, and the
greatest peril at the entrance to the Weser was indicated far and wide
by night and day. It was a magnificent achievement, carried through in
the face of enormous difficulties, sensational incidents innumerable,
and upon a foundation of disaster. The lighthouse is as firm as if
it were anchored upon a solid granite rock, instead of having its
roots thrust deep into treacherous shifting sand, and constitutes an
imperishable monument to German engineering ability; while, all things
considered, the cost was low, being only £43,400, or $217,000, in all.
The light is electric, the power being supplied from a station on
shore, and fed to the lighthouse through a submarine cable; the keepers
are also in submarine telegraphic communication with the mainland.

When the United States set out to build a similar structure in the
spacious Delaware Bay, they were confronted with a prospect just as
forbidding, and a task in every way as difficult, as that offered in
connection with the Rothersand. There is a dangerous shoal about twenty
miles off the land, where the Atlantic beats with furious rage, and
where vessels were apt to stick hard and fast. It was described as
“Fourteen Foot Bank” by mariners, from the depth of the water flowing
over the shoal, and this colloquialism has provided the name for the
present guardian light. The open situation did not augur favourably for
the completion of a lighthouse at this spot, but the American engineers
were resolved to make the attempt. Accordingly, plans were prepared for
a construction upon the caisson principle, which was the only method
promising success.

The preliminary step was the fabrication of a caisson. The first part
was more like a raft with sides. It was about 40 feet square, 5 feet
thick, and with walls 7 feet deep. It was built of timber, the staves
being 12 inches square, and upside down--that is, with the floor
uppermost--on a building-slip, as if it were a ship, and was launched
into the water upon similar lines. The sides and top were lined, so as
to secure water-tightness. In the centre there was a circular space 5
feet in diameter to form the air-shaft.

As the structure was built upside down, the rim was brought to the
lowermost position, and this formed the cutting edge, which was to be
sunk into the sand. On this floating platform a circular iron cylinder
was erected. This tube was 35 feet in diameter, and was built up in
plates, 6 feet in width by 1½ inches thick. When three rings of iron
were set up the cylinder was 18 feet in height. In order to sink it to
a depth of 15½ feet into the water for towing purposes, it was charged
with a layer of concrete, 9 inches in thickness, to serve as ballast,
and in this condition the caisson weighed 400 tons.

This huge barrel was built at Lewes, Delaware, and when it was launched
two powerful steam-tugs set out to drag it to the shoal, twenty miles
away. As the tide rises and falls a matter of 6 feet in these waters,
and the currents are somewhat wicked, the engineers displayed no undue
haste. They waited for the first favourable opportunity, and seized it.
But it took the two tugs some six hours to reach the site; an average
speed of about three and a half miles per hour cannot be construed into
fast travelling.

When the mighty caisson had been warped and nudged dead into position
over the desired spot, water was admitted. With a gurgling and hissing
the hulk sank slowly into the sea. At last a slight jolt, which
quivered through the mass, signified that the structure was resting on
the bottom. The engineers gave a sigh of relief, but the next instant
changed it to a cry of dismay. The caisson began to heel over to one
side. Was it going to capsize? That was the absorbing fear. It canted
more and more, until at last it had a list of 12 degrees. _It had not
sunk vertically!_ There was less than 16 inches of water between the
sea-level and the rim when the caisson first jarred against the sand,
and if it careened over too far the water certainly would rush in,
roll the whole tub over, and tumble it hither and thither over the
sea-bed. The engineers watched that caisson as closely as a cat watches
a mouse-hole. Presently it eased up, and then, as the tide rose some
six hours later, it began to right itself. The engineers were relieved
once more. The danger was over. But their self-satisfaction was soon
upset as the tide began to ebb, because again the cylinder gradually
fell over on its side. The cause of this strange behaviour flashed upon
them. The surface of the sandbank was not level! The mass in sinking
had touched bottom on the highest point of the shoal, and was trying to
find its own level.

Without any further delay, the engineers decided upon an ingenious
means of correcting this erratic and dangerous action. The tugs were
despatched hurriedly to Lewes to bring out cargoes of broken stone,
which had been delivered for the preparation of the concrete. While
the steamers pursued their errand, the engineers fashioned large
pockets on the elevated section of the structure, into which the stone
upon its arrival was placed. Gradually but surely the caisson not only
was corrected, but the weighted end was induced to settle into the
sand, until the opposite free edge in its turn was resting upon the
shoal.

In this manner all danger of further canting now was removed. As the
rim had been brought perilously near the water-level, and there was
a possibility of flooding from a rough sea, the walls of the caisson
were extended vertically with all haste; meanwhile two additional
rings of iron were placed in position, and the top was brought about
20 feet above the water. While this work was in progress the structure
gradually bit farther and farther into the sand, until at last it
secured a firm hold.

At the earliest possible moment the air-compressors were set to work,
and air was driven into the space between the cutting edge and the
roof, in which the men were to work. This space was 40 feet square and
7 feet deep. The greater pressure of the air drove the water out from
this space, and the men were able to enter through the air-lock and to
work upon a dry surface, isolated from the surrounding sea by the fence
formed by the cutting edge.

The men toiled in eight-hour shifts continuously, removing the sand
within the space and sending it upwards to be discharged overboard.
As the area was excavated, the cutting edge sank deeper and deeper,
so that the structure became more and more firmly embedded. There
was apprehension that the obstruction offered by the caisson to the
movement of the currents might set up undermining around the cylinder,
as in the case of the Rothersand; but the engineers arrested any
tendency in this direction by dumping large pieces of stone overboard
around the tub. Some 6,000 tons of stone were used for this purpose, so
that the caisson has an impregnable protection.

As the structure sank lower and lower, owing to the excavation,
concrete was dumped around the air-tube above the floor of the space
in which the men were labouring, while successive rings of iron were
added to the top of the cylinder. The men worked with great gusto in
their novel situation, and, the task being prosecuted uninterruptedly
throughout the day and night, the cylinder sank from 12 to 24 inches
during the twenty-four hours. This labour was maintained until the
cutting edge of the caisson was 33 feet below the surface of the shoal,
when the engineers called halt. They considered that the task had been
continued to a sufficient depth to secure the requisite rigidity for
their lighthouse. The men left the working chamber, which was then
tightly underrammed with sand, so as to form a solid foundation, while
the air-shaft was filled up with rammed sand and sealed with a thick
plug of concrete. The wall of the iron cylinder had been intermittently
increased in height by the addition of successive rings of plates,
until the rim was 70 feet above the cutting edge and projected about
30 feet above the water at low-tide. From the bottom to a height of 40
feet it is virtually a solid mass of concrete, protected by a skin of
iron 1½ inches thick. Further concrete was added, bringing the solid
section to within 10 feet of the rim, so that the concrete heart is
about 53 feet in height and 35 feet in diameter. It is a solid circular
rock sunk into the sand, and as firm and free from vibration as a
granite core.

Upon this foundation a house for the light-keepers, crowned by a tower,
was erected, the focal plane being 59 feet above mean high-water. It is
fitted with a light of the fourth order, visible for thirteen miles.

One of the most important features in connection with the Fourteen Foot
Bank light was its small cost, which was below the estimate, especially
when it is compared with the German work. The United States Government
appropriated a sum of £35,000, or $175,000, for the undertaking, but
the total expenditure was less than £25,000, or $125,000, so that a sum
of £10,000, or $50,000, was handed back to the Treasury--a most unusual
event in connection with Government contracts. The lighthouse was
finished and brought into service in 1886.

The success of this novel enterprise prompted the authorities to
essay a more daring project--the erection of a lighthouse upon the
caisson principle on the Outer Diamond Shoal, off Cape Hatteras, North
Carolina. But the storms encountered off this inhospitable coast have
proved too overpowering for the engineer. Numerous attempts have been
made, but disaster has been their invariable fate. The Diamond Shoal
refuses to be indicated by anything except a lightship.



CHAPTER XI

SOME LIGHT PATROLS OF THE FRENCH COAST


In the matter of safeguarding its shores the French nation has
displayed considerable enterprise, and its engineers have added some
magnificent contributions to this field of engineering. The maintenance
and welfare of these aids to navigation is placed in the hands of the
Service des Phares, which is controlled by the Department of Bridges
and Roads. The French scheme is the disposition of the lights along the
shore in such a way that their ranges overlap on either side, so that,
as one passes along the coast, before one ray is dropped the next is
picked up. Electricity is employed extensively as the illuminant, so
that the lights are of great power and twinkle like brilliant white
stars on a clear night.

While the majority of these guides are erected on the mainland, others
rise from islands lying off the coast, which, by their position in deep
water, render navigation hazardous. The finest expressions of French
lighthouse engineering are to be found along the rugged islet-dotted
coast of the huge indentation in which lie the Channel Islands--the
cruel coast of Brittany. It was off the western extremity of Brittany,
which thrusts itself well out into the Atlantic Ocean, forming the
point generally known as Ushant, that the _Drummond Castle_ lost her
way, to pull up with a fatal crash against one of the jagged reefs
stretching to seaward. While this wreck was but one of many in these
troubled waters, it sent a thrill round the world, owing to the
terrible loss of life with which it was accompanied.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the French Government has
endeavoured to remove the evil notoriety which this coast has reaped,
and to render it as safe as the other stretches lying to the north and
south. The conditions, however, are against the engineer, as the nose
of the mainland projects well into the ocean, and receives the full
brunt of its attacks when gales rage, so that a foothold is precarious.

When the question of lighting this inhospitable stretch of coast arose,
the French authorities debated whether it would not be easier, cheaper,
and more satisfactory, to place the lighthouses on the mainland at a
sufficient altitude, and to fit them with adequately powerful lights
to indicate the outlying reefs. The general opinion was in favour of
such a practice. So when Léonce Reynaud proposed to mark the Heaux de
Bréhat with a magnificent tower, there was considerable opposition. The
critics maintained that it was a flagrant temptation of Fate to attempt
the conquest of such an evil wave-swept rock, the head of which was
barely visible above high-water, and was of such small dimensions that
work would be possible for only a few hours daily and then by no more
than a mere handful of men.

The engineer was confident that he could surmount all difficulties in
construction, and that he would be able to erect a tower which would
defy wind and wave, so he gained the day and received the requisite
sanction to proceed with his undertaking. He had surveyed the rock
and its surroundings thoroughly; had discovered the velocity of the
currents, and their varying directions under all conditions of weather.
They tore along at about nine and a half miles an hour, and this speed
was augmented considerably in rough weather. He selected the site for
the lighthouse about nine miles from the Isle of Bréhat, where landing
would have to be made at low-water, owing to the water rushing first
from the island to the rock, and then in the opposite direction,
according to the movements of the tides.

The Isle of Bréhat was made the base for operations. It is freely
indented, and one of the coves was found to form an excellent little
harbour. A rough stone jetty was run out for a length of 170 feet, and
while one fleet of boats was retained to convey material from the
island to the rock, another was kept to bring supplies to the island
for preparation, and the support of the men, whose quarters were
established at this depot. Sixty men were employed on the work. They
dressed the granite stones and prepared the woodwork as it arrived in
the raw condition, ample workshops being provided for these purposes.

[Illustration:

            _Photo by permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

THE HEAUX DE BRÉHAT LIGHT.

A striking tower built by Léonce Reynaud off the exposed Brittany
coast. It is 159 feet high and took six years to complete.]

The face of the rock was cleaned off during the brief intervals when
it was bared by the sea, and rough stones and masonry were laid in
concrete and continued solidly to a point 13 feet above high-water.
Around this confined platform quarters were built for the handful of
men who stayed on the rock during the periods of calm weather, as too
much time was lost in travelling to and from the island, while there
were risks of landing being interrupted by the swell. A temporary light
was also placed in position while constructional work was proceeding,
to warn navigation. The facilities also included a small forge for
the fashioning upon the spot of the iron dogs and bolts whereby the
stones were clamped together, and this proved highly convenient,
except for one thing: when the water was somewhat rough and playful,
the waves, striking the rock, flew into the air, soused the forge, and
extinguished the fire.

The preparations of the foundations proved exceedingly tedious. The
rock is a very hard black porphyry, but the surface was so scarred
with fissures and deep cracks that the whole of the upper surface had
to be cleaned off, so as to remove all rotten and splintered rock in
order to secure a firm, solid foundation. Then a circle 38 feet in
diameter was marked off, and masons cut away all the rock around this
line to a depth of about 20 inches and of sufficient width to take
the stones--a trench, as it were. This work had to be executed during
the short period of low-water, and a special schedule was prepared
to insure the men concentrating the whole of their energies upon the
task when opportunity offered. As the ebbing tide began to bare the
space, the workmen were called, and they followed the receding water,
never leaving the spot for meals, but toiling continuously until
the returning tide drove them off. As a rule the men were sufficiently
fleet to get clear untouched, although they delayed their retreat until
the very last moment; but at other times the sea was a trifle quicker,
and the men received an unexpected douche from a scurrying wave.

When this trench had been cleared out and the face levelled, the outer
ring of stones was laid and secured firmly in position. The inner
space of the rock was left in its roughly trimmed condition, and was
then buried beneath cement and rock to the level of the outer ring of
stones, forming a platform ready to receive the mass of the tower. The
outer ring was the main consideration, and the work had to be finished
in such a manner that a tight joint was made with the rock, to resist
the penetration of the water. When the men were compelled to lay down
their tools for the coming tide, they hastily applied a thick covering
of quick-drying cement to the work completed, thereby protecting it
against the disintegrating and percolating action of the sea.

Ere the work had started thoroughly, the engineer was faced with a
trouble which he had not anticipated. The men were left to attend to
their own desires in the way of provisions. This haphazard arrangement
had the inevitable sequel. Some of the men were stricken down with
scurvy, and the disease promised to secure a firm hold, when the
engineer stepped in with a firm hand. He established a canteen, the
contractor of which was compelled to maintain a supply of varied
provisions for six months at least, lest the little colony should
become isolated by rough weather. A regular varied bill of fare
was imposed upon the workmen, who were compelled to purchase their
requirements from the canteen. By this firm and timely action the
disease was stamped out. The engineer also enforced other stringent
regulations in the interests of health. The men were compelled to bathe
once a week, and had to turn their sleeping-blankets into the open air
every day; while the quarters had to be washed out and the walls given
a dressing of limewash at frequent intervals.

[Illustration: FITTING THE LANTERN OF LA JUMENT LIGHT.]

When the visitor approaches the tower for the first time, he cannot
fail to be impressed by its unusual design. It appears as if a former
tower of great diameter had been decapitated, and another more slender
building placed upon its butt. This is due to the ingenious idea
adopted by Reynaud. The lower part of the tower rises like the trunk
of a tree from the base, which is a solid plinth, to a height of 39
feet above highest spring-tides. At the top this lower tower is 28 feet
in diameter, as compared with 38 feet at the base. Here the butt is
levelled off, and from its surface rises the lighthouse proper, in the
form of a slightly tapering cone, leaving a narrow gallery around the
superimposed structure to serve as a “set-off” and landing or entrance
platform.

In carrying out his work, Reynaud followed a principle quite divergent
from the prevailing practice in lighthouse construction. He did not
attach every stone irremovably to its neighbours, but merely made
fast the masonry at varying points, where the mass of water might be
expected to expend the greater part of its violence. The method he
adopted is very simple. Keystones are introduced at selected points in
each course, and these are driven up and held tight by granite plugs
and wedges. The principle was assailed at the time as being deficient
in strength, but no apprehensions ever have arisen concerning the
safety of the tower, so that the engineer’s daring ingenuity has been
completely justified.

Considering the isolation of the rock and its wind-swept position,
it was built in a very short time. The whole of the year 1834 was
devoted to the survey of the rock, close observations of the prevailing
meteorological conditions, and the preparation of the design. The
succeeding year was confined to the establishment of the workmen’s
quarters, the cutting of the annular trench in the rock, and the
setting of the masonry course. The erection of the superstructure
occupied nearly four years, the work being completed and the light
exhibited in 1859, according to the inscription. The tower is 159 feet
in height, and the light has a range of eighteen miles.

Since the Heaux de Bréhat was conquered so successfully, French
lighthouse engineering skill has been manifested actively around the
ill-famed Brittany coast, which now is robbed of the greater part of
its dangers. Reynaud’s work, however, did not bring complete safety to
the waters from which it lifts its imposing form. Four miles off the
self-same island is the plateau of Horaine. This is a chain of rocks,
the greatest peril of which is that at high-tide nothing whatever of
them is seen, and their existence is betrayed only by the agitated and
broken waves rushing over them with fearful force. As the tide falls
the water becomes more tormented, and is torn into flying foam, until,
when it has almost ebbed, these jagged fangs may be seen projecting
above the surf. Bearing in mind these terrible characteristics, it is
not surprising that time after time vessels which had been driven out
of their course by tempestuous weather, or had got lost in a dense fog,
blundered into this death-trap and were lost.

The French Government was sorely puzzled as to how to overcome this
danger. The engineers fought the elements valiantly for forty years
in an effort to crown Horaine with a beacon, but time after time they
were defeated. Landing on the reef is highly dangerous. The rocks are
surrounded by surging, eddying currents, running at anything from six
miles upwards per hour, while the slightest ruffle of wind is quite
sufficient to stir up the water so as to fling it swirling over the
rocks even at lowest tide. Once or twice, when a period of abnormal
calm prevailed, the engineers struggled on to the rock and hurriedly
built a substantial masonry beacon, but its life was always brief.
The first two or three gales which pounded and roared over the chain
invariably scattered the handiwork of man in all directions.

Then another expedient was attempted. A party landed upon the ridge,
drove a hole into the solid rock, and there set a vertical iron girder
4 inches in thickness, trusting that it would hold fast and indicate
the reef sufficiently during the day. But its life was short. A gale
came along and snapped the post in twain, leaving a twisted, bent
stump, some 36 inches long, remaining on the rock.

[Illustration: PREPARING THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE JUMENT LIGHT.

This illustration conveys an idea of the difficulties encountered in
connection with this work.]

In 1890 another bold effort to subjugate the ridge was made. An
hexagonal structure was designed, and it was determined to plant this
on the rock by hook or by crook, and so firmly as to resist the most
powerful hammerings to which it could be subjected by the waves. Six
holes were bored into the rock surface to form the corners of the
hexagon. But before commencing the work proper it was decided to insert
an iron post, 6½ inches thick, into one of the holes, and to leave it
to see what would happen. Time after time it was inspected, and was
found to be safe and sound. Two years had slipped by, practically,
since the post was planted, and it was still intact. The engineers
thought they had triumphed, and were preparing their plans, when the
news came that a heavy storm, which had swept the coast, had broken the
pillar off flush with the rock.

This necessitated another change in the designs and the plan of
campaign. After further discussion it was decided to proceed right
away with a masonry tower, although the engineers were prepared for
a mighty tussle. The surveys showed that, as the rock upon which the
building was to be erected was covered by 10 feet of water during the
highest spring-tides, work upon the foundations would be confined to
the lowest neap-tides, when about 4 feet of the rock were exposed. But
the tide sinks to the very low level desired infrequently--about four
days in every month. Even then work would be possible for only about
an hour per day--four hours per month! The prospect certainly was far
from being attractive, especially as even to accomplish this meed of
toil the calmest weather and smoothest sea were imperative, and it
was scarcely to be expected that everything would be in favour of the
engineers at one and the same time.

Another adverse feature was only too apparent. If unpropitious weather
prevailed just after an hour or two’s work had been completed, the
chances were a thousand to one that it would be swept away. But this
was a contingency which had to be faced. The engineer could only do the
utmost humanly possible to secure his work, and then must trust to luck.

With infinite difficulty a small corps of daring workmen and appliances
of the simplest description, together with materials, were got out to
the rock upon the first favourable day when there was a very low tide.
An outer wall of bricks was built piecemeal, and the space within
was filled with concrete. This stood, and so the engineer secured a
level plinth upon which to place his tower. He selected an octagonal
building, the angles of which touch the circumference of a circle
20 feet in diameter described on the rock. It was to be 50 feet in
height, bringing the warning light about 40 feet above high-water.
The beacon was to be a concrete monolithic structure at least for the
greater part of its height, as the light was to be of the unattended
class. Accordingly, the mould was formed by setting a cast-iron post,
18 inches in height, at each corner of the octagon, this support being
anchored into the solid rock beneath. These posts contained grooves to
admit sliding wooden uprights, which were to be firmly wedged, these
joists being inclined to take the angle, or batter, proposed for the
tower. Heavy transverse pieces of timber were laid between these posts,
forming a capacious octagonal box, into which the concrete was poured.
As the filling process behind the wooden wall advanced, angle pieces of
steel were superimposed and bolted up.

[Illustration: THE JUMENT LIGHT RECENTLY ERECTED OFF USHANT.

This beacon was built with a legacy left by M. Potron, a distinguished
French traveller, in the interests of humanity.]

The security of the structure occupied the sole attention of the
engineer. When work had to cease, and the boat put off with the workmen
after a spell of toil, the engineer would watch the rising tide and
the waves sweeping over his structure, until at last it disappeared
from sight. As the tide fell he followed the receding waters just as
eagerly, and gave a sigh of relief when he saw that the tower was still
withstanding the blind forces of Nature. In the early stages an effort
to protect the work, when the men had to retreat before the rising
tide, was made by covering it with a heavy piece of sailcloth, lashed
down and weighted in position with huge masses of pig-iron. This served
its purpose for a time, but finally the sea got the upper hand, tore
the canvas from its lashings, and carried it away, together with the
whole of its weights. Then a wooden protective device was employed, and
this likewise held out until a particularly unfriendly September gale
smashed it to matchwood, as well as damaging the concrete slightly here
and there.

The men took their tools and materials with them on every visit, and,
as the tower rose, the working spells between the tides became longer
and longer, until, when a point above high-water was reached, work was
continued throughout the day whenever the rock was approachable. A
small wooden platform was erected on one side, on which the concrete
was mixed, while on the other there was a little shelf with a small
cistern, which was filled with water from the boats below, through the
agency of a pump. A jury derrick was rigged up to lift the material and
men to the working level. As the tower rose in height, the wooden mould
had to be dismembered and re-erected upon the new level, this operation
being repeated no less than forty times until the desired height was
gained. Work was exasperatingly slow and intermittent, while it had to
be suspended entirely for about six or seven months, as no one dared
to venture near the rock in winter. Taken on the whole, it was one of
the most anxious and difficult pieces of the work of this character
which the French Government has ever undertaken, while the working area
was so confined that less than a dozen men could toil simultaneously
without getting in one another’s way.

Recently the Brittany coast has been further protected by another
magnificent beacon, the Jument lighthouse, off Ushant. This awful spot
has long been marked by a very powerful electric light at Creach, which
may be seen over twenty miles away, and, together with its fellow
on the opposite end of the island, may be said to guide the crowded
shipping around this promontory very effectively. But foggy weather
reduces the mariner to helplessness, as the sea for two miles round
the island is studded with reefs, ridges and rocky humps of a very
formidable character, so that vessels have to keep well beyond this
zone. When the light is obscured, safe travelling is possible only by
going very slowly and making liberal use of the lead, while the captain
must keep a sharp eye upon the rapid currents which set inshore if he
would not be thrown upon the rocks he is seeking sedulously to avoid.

The French Government, with its characteristic thoroughness, determined
to secure the complete indication of the Ushant and all its dangers by
a carefully-conceived and comprehensive chain of lights distributed
over the dangerous area. The urgency of such a scheme is obvious
when it is remembered that it is computed that 24,000 vessels of all
classes pass Ushant in the course of the year. At the same time the
sea’s harvest of vessels and lives off this rocky shore every year is
appallingly heavy. The only handicap to the immediate completion of the
Government’s humane project is the extreme difficulty of the work and
its prodigious cost.

Fortunately, through the extreme generosity of a French traveller--M.
Potron--it was rendered possible to commence the scheme. Upon his
death, and according to the terms of his will, dated January 9, 1904,
this gentleman left 400,000 francs--£16,000, or $80,000--for the
erection of a lighthouse of the latest type and with the most powerful
lighting apparatus off the coast washed by the open Atlantic, and even
suggested that a site off Ushant would be found the most beneficial to
humanity. After consultation between his executor, residuary legatee,
and the Government, a rock known as La Jument, off the south of the
Ile d’Ouessant (Ushant) was selected for the site of his monument. The
lighthouse engineers advocated a tower 118 feet in height, with a light
of the latest type and a modern fog-signalling apparatus. This proposal
was accepted, and was sanctioned on November 18, 1904, by the parties
concerned.

Headquarters were established in the Bay of Lampaul, on Ushant
Island, which immediately faces the site, and by the end of 1904
the preparations were well advanced. A steamboat, a launch and a
lifeboat were secured, the first-named for the purpose of maintaining
communication with the mainland and to bring in supplies, together
with suitable craft for transporting material and provisions to the
rock. The situation of the ledge and its exposure to the worst weather
rendered approach very difficult. The danger spot itself is completely
covered at high-tide, and only projects 4 feet at low-water. So far
as the foundations were concerned, work was only possible for a few
hours at a time. During the closing months of 1904 seventeen landings
were made and fifty-two hours in all spent upon the rock, while in the
succeeding year the men landed fifty-nine times, to put in an aggregate
of 206½ hours.

The current rushes round the reef with a velocity of some ten miles per
hour, varying its direction according to the movements of the tides.
Investigation proved the existence of a small space of water on one
side where the boats could approach and moor safely in an eddy. The men
were brought out in the steamer, which also towed the launch and the
lifeboat. The latter was kept in readiness alongside the rock while
the men were at work, in case of emergency. A sharp eye had to be kept
upon the weather while the handful of men laboured hastily preparing
the face of the rock, and at the first signs of a threatening sky or
increased movement in the swell the steamer blew its siren, the men
scrambled aboard, and were hurried back to the island.

The year 1906 was one of bad weather, rendering frequent approach
impossible. During this season the men landed only thirty-nine times
and toiled for 152 hours, while the sum of their achievement was the
least throughout the whole seven years which the tower occupied in
its erection. The building is solid for about 30 feet above the rock,
and in 1908 the construction of the tower proper was commenced. The
base is circular, with a diameter of 33¾ feet; but the tower itself is
of octagonal form, with a diameter at the base of 28 feet, tapering
slightly to the top.

One notable feature in connection with the work was the utilization
of electricity for the operation of the derrick, which was driven by
a petrol motor coupled thereto. This was supplemented in times of
pressure with another derrick, driven by current generated on the
steamer, from which a cable trailed to the rock. Altogether 4,180 tons
of masonry were transported to the rock and set in position. During
the seven years the work was in progress, from the first landing to
the final withdrawal of the workmen, 449 landings were made and 2,937
hours of work put in. The largest annual aggregate of labour was
in 1911, when 70 landings were made and 400 hours turned to useful
purpose. The tower, which is of imposing appearance, has six floors for
the convenience of the keeper, stores, etc. The apartment immediately
beneath the lantern contains the fog-signalling apparatus, which
comprises a siren driven by air which is compressed for the purpose by
means of a fourteen horse-power petrol motor. The signal is as follows:
Three blasts of one and a half seconds’ duration with intervening
intervals of one and a half seconds, followed by a silent period of
fifty-two and a half seconds, one cycle thus being emitted every
minute. The light, which is thrown from an elevation of 110¼ feet above
high-water, throws groups of three red flashes at intervals of fifteen
seconds, and has a maximum range of twenty miles in very clear weather.

In accordance with the terms of the donor’s will, the light is named
after the rock upon which it stands, and therefore is known as the
Jument of Ushant lighthouse. The benefactor’s second wish is also
respected in the inscription wrought in the solid granite, which
translated runs: “This lighthouse was built with the legacy of Charles
Eugène Potron, traveller, and member of the Geographical Society of
Paris.” The sum set aside by this benefactor of humanity, however, did
not defray the entire cost of the lighthouse. As a matter of fact,
the total outlay on the undertaking was more than twice the sum left
for the purpose, totalling 850,000 francs--£34,000, or $170,000. The
Government decided that the munificence of its citizen offered the
opportunity to carry out the first instalment of the scheme it had
in view upon the most complete lines--hence the heavy disbursement.
Nevertheless the origin of the Jument lighthouse is almost
unprecedented in the annals of lighthouse engineering, and it probably
ranks as the first important light which has been built in accordance
with the terms, and with funds, left by a will.



CHAPTER XII

THE GUARDIAN LIGHTS OF CANADA’S COAST


The phenomenal commercial expansion of the Dominion of Canada, which
has brought about an amazing development in the maritime traffic with
that country on both its seaboards, naturally has been responsible
for the display of striking activity in the provision of aids to
navigation. Both the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines bristle with
dangers of a most terrible nature; the innumerable islands and
precipitous flanks of rock recall the wild ruggedness of the western
coast of Scotland or the forbidding Atlantic shoreline of France and
Spain.

When the ships of Britain first traded with Canadian shores, shipwrecks
and ocean tragedies were numerous; there is no escape for a ship which
is caught on those pitiless coasts. The early settlers, therefore, did
not hesitate to provide ways and means of guiding navigators to safety.
Their first lights were primitive, comprising bonfires fed with wood,
of which ample supplies abounded, pitched on prominent headlands; and
these flickering rays, when not obscured by smoke and fog, served to
speed the ship safely on her way.

The British pioneers, naturally, did not hesitate to improve upon
these uncertain crude methods of warning, in course of time, by
the erection of more substantial lights. These for the most part
comprised timber-frame dwellings, used by the family entrusted with
the maintenance of the light, from the roof of which a wooden tower
extended, similar in design to the buildings favoured for a similar
purpose in the United States. Many lights of this class are still
doing faithful service to-day, and although one might anticipate the
destruction of such a beacon from fire, yet, owing to the unremitting
care displayed by the families associated with the upkeep thereof,
this awful fiend has not been responsible for the temporary extinction
of many lights in the country’s history.

[Illustration:

            _Photo by permission of Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson._

THE CAPE RACE LIGHTHOUSE, NEWFOUNDLAND.

One of the finest and most powerful beacons in the world. It is
filled with the hyperradiant apparatus, and the ray is of 1,100,000
candle-power.]

One of the oldest, if not the first light to be established, was that
on Sambro Island, to indicate the entrance into Halifax Harbour, Nova
Scotia. This signpost of the sea was set up in 1758, and fulfilled its
purpose for 148 years, when it was reconstructed and fitted with the
most up-to-date appliances. The white flash now bursts forth, at an
elevation of 140 feet above mean high-water, from the top of a white
octagonal stone and concrete tower, and is visible from a distance
of seventeen miles. When it is blotted out by fog, a powerful signal
is given once every ten minutes by a cotton-powder charge. Mariners,
however, are cautioned against attempting to make Sambro in fog, as the
shore is wild and cruel. This explosive signal is emitted rather to
communicate a timely warning to vessels which have lost their way.

The two most dangerous spots in the approach to Canada, however,
lie off the mainland. One is the irregular triangular island of
Newfoundland; the other is a low-lying stretch of sand known as Sable
Island. Both are amongst the most ill-famed graveyards in the North
Atlantic, where hundreds of ships have gone to their doom. Even to-day,
although both are well protected by lights, wrecks are by no means
uncommon. Sable Island is stalked by the ghosts of scores of seafarers
who have been the victims of some ghastly ocean tragedy upon its banks.

The island of Newfoundland lies in the jaw of the River St. Lawrence,
with two narrow passages leading between the Gulf behind and the broad
Atlantic. Both straits offer dangers to navigation, although in this
respect that of Belle Ile, whereby the northern corner of the island
is rounded, is the worse offender. Yet the most dangerous corner of
the island is, not where the waterways are hemmed in, but that tongue
which thrusts itself far out to sea, to terminate in the bluff headland
of Cape Race. This shoreline is as serrated as a fine saw, being a
succession of indentations and steep promontories, with submerged
reefs running far out to sea. To the south lies that great submerged
tableland, invariably curtained in fog, where mighty icebergs that
have come down from the north pound and grate themselves to pieces,
which throughout the shipping world is regarded with dread--the Grand
Banks. This south-eastward corner of the island, by being thrust so
far outwards, brings the rocky headlands into the path of the vessels
plying between Europe, Canada, and New York.

The shortest route between the Old and New World extends across the
northern half of the Banks, with a slight swing southwards to avoid
Cape Race. So far as the great liners are concerned, they are spared
this peril, inasmuch as their prescribed lanes give the cruel coast
a wide berth; but all other shipping has either to swing round the
headland to enter the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or strike farther north and
pass through the Strait of Belle Ile. The latter route, however, is
available for only five months in the year; the greater volume of the
traffic skirts the southern shores of the island.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

CANN ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE ON THE EAST COAST OF NEWFOUNDLAND.

This is a typical example of a wooden frame building. The tower
projects from the roof of the home of the lighthouse-keeper and his
family.]

Under these circumstances Cape Race is to the western side of the
Atlantic what the Fastnet and Bishop Rocks are to the eastern
boundaries of this ocean. Even if the wild character of the coast were
not sufficient justification for a light, the currents experienced
off these shores, which are of high velocity and violently broken up
by the indentations and protuberances, would demand the provision
of a beacon. Over one hundred vessels of all descriptions have been
smashed to pieces in the vicinity of Cape Race alone. The Allan liner
_Anglo-Saxon_ crashed into the cliffs and went down in 1864 with 290
souls. In this instance the death-roll would have been far heavier had
it not been for the pluck and grit of the lighthouse-keepers, who,
observing the wreck, hurried to the water’s edge, lowered themselves
with ropes from the heights above, and, stumbling, groping, and feeling
their way through the darkness, at imminent risk to their own limbs and
lives, rescued 130 of the luckless passengers and crew from the wreck,
who were huddled on a ledge under the cliffs, hungry, shivering with
cold, and too exhausted to assist themselves. The light-keepers and
men from the telegraph-station had to lift these helpless survivors one
by one to the top of the precipice, a task demanding herculean effort,
patience, and intrepidity, and to lead and help them to the lighthouse,
where they were tended until a steamer, answering the telegraphic call
for help, came round from St. John’s and took the hapless people off.

In 1901 the _Assyrian_ ran ashore in calm weather, and was too firmly
jammed on a reef to extricate herself. A week later another fine vessel
and cargo worth £80,000, or $400,000, was battered to pulp by the
waves, the lighthouse-keepers once more, at great risk to themselves,
putting out and rescuing those on board in the nick of time. Ere the
excitement of this wreck had died down, a French emigrant steamer, the
_Lusitania_, ran full-tilt on to a reef, and but for the timely aid
rendered by the lighthouse-keepers and the fisherfolk 550 people would
have been drowned. More fearful catastrophes have been enacted within
hail of the lights at Cape Race and Cape Ray, hard by to the west, and
more millions sterling of cargo and ship have been shattered and lost
here than upon any other corresponding stretch of coast in the world.
The most noticeable point in connection with these disasters is the
large number of big boats which have ended their careers abruptly off
this spot, although the rocks have claimed a big share of small fry as
well.

The first beacon was placed on the headland in 1856. It was a
cylindrical tower, built up of cast-iron plates, erected near the edge
of the cliff, which is 87 feet high. The tower itself being 38 feet in
height, the focal plane of the beam was at an elevation of 125 feet
above the sea. It was erected jointly by the British and Newfoundland
Government authorities, although the maintenance thereof was entrusted
to Great Britain. In return for the provision of this warning, a tax
of one-sixteenth of a penny, or an eighth of a cent, per ton, was
collected in England from vessels passing the light. The beacon was not
particularly powerful, the ray being only of some 6,000 candle-power.

Some years ago the lighthouse was handed over to the Canadian
Government to be included in its service, together with the balance of
the fund which had accrued from the levy of the special tax. This sum
represented £20,579, or $102,895. The Canadian Government abolished the
light-due, and the surplus funds were absorbed into the general revenue
of the country.

The new owners, realizing the importance of the light, subsequently
decided to provide a new beacon of greater power to meet the demands
of shipping, which had increased amazingly. In 1907 this structure
was completed. It is a cylindrical tower, carried out in reinforced
concrete, 100 feet in height, surmounted by a lantern of the first
order with hyperradial apparatus. This is the largest type of optical
apparatus in use at the present time, and the ray of light produced by
an incandescent oil-burner and mantle is of 1,100,000 candle-power,
shed from an elevation of 195 feet above the water. The warning flash
of a quarter of a second every seven and a half seconds is visible from
a distance of nineteen miles. In addition, the fog-signalling apparatus
was brought up to date. The steam-whistle, which had sufficed up to
the date of reconstruction, was replaced by a diaphone of the greatest
power installed up to that time. This is set up about 250 feet south
of the lighthouse, with which it is connected by a covered passage.
The air required to emit the warning blast, lasting three and a half
seconds once in every half-minute, is compressed by the aid of steam.
By day the lighthouse is readily distinguishable from its red and white
vertical stripes, red lantern, and white dwelling with red roof, in
which the keepers have their quarters. To-day the station ranks as
one of the finest in the world, complying in every respect with the
requisitions for one of a first-class character.

Sable Island is perhaps an even more evil spot in the North Atlantic
than the ill-famed Newfoundland coast. It is a bleak, inhospitable,
crescent-shaped collection of sand-dunes, eighty-five miles due east of
Nova Scotia and lying right in the steamship tracks. A more uninviting
stretch of dry land could not be conceived. Little grows here beyond
a special kind of brush, which appears to flourish in sea-swept
billows of sand. But the obstacle is formidable, being twenty-two
miles in length by a mile in width at its broadest part. This does
not constitute the extent of its dangers--far from it. The island is
slowly but surely being swallowed up by the restless, hissing sea,
with the result that, when one stands on the almost indistinguishable
line where sea meets land, an aspect of white ruffs of foam curl in
all directions as far as the eye can see, where the surf is thundering
over the shoals. I have related the toll that this island of the dead
has exacted from shipping,[A] and now confine myself to describing
the means that have been provided to warn the mariner off its bars.
The Canadian Government maintains two lighthouses, at the western
and eastern extremities respectively, and those entrusted with their
safe-keeping have as lonely an existence as may be conceived. The
welcome face of a stranger never brightens their lives, except when the
relief-boat draws in as far as it dares in the calmest weather, or when
some luckless wretches are snatched from a vessel which has fallen into
the toils of the sand and is doomed. The sea-birds and seals are their
sole companions on this lonely outpost.

    [A] “The Steamship Conquest of the World,” chapter xxi., p. 299.

[Illustration:

            _Photo by courtesy of Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson._

THE LIGHT AT THE SOUTHERN END OF BELLE ILE.

This Canadian beacon throws its rays from a height of 470 feet. In
foggy weather the headland often is obscured by fog, so an auxiliary
light has been provided 346 feet below.]

The necessity of indicating this death-trap to the mariner was realized
at the end of the seventeenth century, but it was not until 1802 that a
forward step was taken to ease the plight of those who were thrown upon
its shores. Then the province of Nova Scotia voted a sum of £400 or
$2,000, per annum, for the maintenance of a fully-equipped life-saving
station. This sum was too slender to fulfil the purposes conceived, but
in 1827 the Imperial Government, recognizing the humane character of
the enterprise, voted a similar appropriation, which is paid regularly,
or was up to a few years ago, towards its support. When the Dominion of
Canada became an accomplished fact in 1867, by the confederation of the
provinces, the matter was taken up whole-heartedly, and since that date
enormous sums have been expended upon the island for the protection
of shipping and the mitigation of the sufferings of those cast upon its
inhospitable shores. At the present time three life-saving stations and
six relief stations, equipped with the best modern apparatuses, are
maintained, connected by telephone and equipped with a staff of about
twenty men. When the gales are raging and the island is encircled in
a broad band of maddened spray stretching to the horizon, these men
are out patrolling the shore, ready to man the lifeboat upon the first
signals of distress. The life of these lonely workers now is lightened
very appreciably, as the island is fitted with a wireless station,
wherewith the men are able to talk through space with the mainland and
with passing vessels.

[Illustration:

            _Photo by courtesy of Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson._

THE NORTH BELLE ILE LIGHTHOUSE.

The warning flash, thrown from a height of 137 feet, can be seen from a
distance of 17 miles.]

The west end light has passed through many vicissitudes, and the
keepers have experienced innumerable thrills. At this point the ocean
is devouring the island rapidly. In 1873 the tower was raised in what
was considered a safe position. It was placed some distance from the
water’s edge on a favourable knoll, and thought to be immune from
the gnawing of the sea for many years to come. But Nature disposed
otherwise. The awful winter of 1881 played havoc with the island. One
mighty gale carried away a solid chunk 70 feet wide by nearly 1,400
feet long. When the summer came, and an inspection was made, fears
were entertained concerning the safety of the lighthouse. The keepers
had observed violent tremblings, for the tower vibrated considerably
under the smashing blows of the waves. Nothing could be done that
summer, and it was hoped that the succeeding winter would be milder,
to enable plans to be prepared for the construction of a new tower in
a safer position. The keepers, however, were urged to keep a sharp eye
on developments, and to be prepared for any emergency. The winter of
1882 proved to be worse than that of the previous year, and the island
suffered more than ever. The keepers and their isolated comrades viewed
the advance of the waves with ill-disguised alarm. Would the island
around the light hold out until the spring? That was the uppermost
thought. Every gale brought the waves nearer, and at last it was
recognized that one good gale would finish matters. So the men prepared
for the emergency. The demolition of the tower commenced, a race
between the waters and human labour. The men worked well and had just
got the superstructure away, when there was a creak, a groan, and a
crash! The foundations, which had been undermined, disappeared into the
Atlantic. In less than ten years the hungry ocean had carried a mile of
Sable Island away.

[Illustration:

            _By kind permission of Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson._

A MAGNIFICENT CANADIAN LIGHT ON THE PACIFIC COAST.

An octagonal tower, 127 feet high, built of ferro-concrete.]

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

THE WEST END GUARDIAN OF SABLE ISLAND, THE GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC.

This tower replaces the structure demolished by the waves.]

In 1888 the present magnificent lighthouse was brought into service.
It is a ferro-concrete tower of octagonal shape rising from a massive
plinth of the same form, and is provided with four equidistantly-spaced
wing buttresses to hold the structure more rigid in rough weather.
The building is set on a knoll rising 20 feet above the water, and
about 2,100 yards east of the extremity of the western dry spit of
land, so that the Atlantic will have to gnaw a considerable distance
before it will render the position of this light untenable. The tower
is 97 feet in height, bringing the white ray 118 feet above the level
of the sea. The light is of the group revolving type, thrown once
every three minutes. The warning is made up of three flashes, with an
eclipse of thirty seconds between each flash, followed by darkness for
ninety seconds, and may be seen sixteen miles away. While the beacon
mounts guard over the main end of the island on one side, there is a
dangerous submerged bar which runs north-westwards and westwards for
seventeen miles. The light at the east end, which was erected in 1873,
is likewise carried on an octagonal tower 81 feet high, but, being set
upon a more commanding position, the beam is elevated to 123 feet. It
is erected five miles south-westwards of the extreme tip of the island,
and gives a white flash at intervals of three seconds, followed by an
eclipse of fifteen seconds; it may be picked up seventeen miles away.
Similarly, this light mounts guard over a submerged sand-bar, which
extends eastwards for at least fourteen miles.

During the late summer and autumn the majority of the vessels plying
between ports on the St. Lawrence and Europe take the shorter route
round the northern corner of Newfoundland through the Straits
of Belle Ile. This is a highly dangerous passage, inasmuch as the
narrow streak of water, seventy miles in length, with a maximum width
of eleven miles, separating the frowning coasts of Newfoundland
and Labrador, is strewn with menaces, the most formidable of which
is Belle Ile, which lies right in the centre of the entrance from
the ocean. The island is really a lofty hump of rock, twenty-one
miles in circumference, with the shores for the most part dropping
precipitously into the water. It is an extremely lonely spot, and,
naturally, is feared by the mariner. His apprehensions, however, have
been considerably relieved, because the channel is brilliantly lighted
by several powerful lights visible from twelve to twenty-eight miles,
while another is being established.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

ST. ESPRIT ISLAND LIGHT, NOVA SCOTIA.

Its white revolving light is visible for 14 miles.]

[Illustration: THE GULL ISLAND LIGHT, NEWFOUNDLAND.

A very lonely beacon, visible for 27 miles.]

The beacons are distributed along the shores of Newfoundland, Belle
Ile, and Labrador, one powerful light being placed on Cape Bauld, the
northernmost point of Newfoundland, and another on Cape Norman, another
promontory to the west. These two lights are visible from twenty and
sixteen miles respectively, while on the opposite side of the strait
is Amour Point light, guarding the south-east side of Forteau Bay on
the Labrador shore, which has a range of eighteen miles. Cape Bauld
is the most important mainland beacon, inasmuch as it indicates the
entrance to the Belle Ile Straits. Belle Ile is well protected at its
two extreme tips, the principal light being at the southern end. The
necessity of guiding ships between the island and Newfoundland was
recognized half a century ago, for this light was erected in 1858. It
is perched on the summit of the cliff, 400 feet above the sea, the
occulting light of ten seconds’ duration and five seconds’ eclipse
being thrown from an altitude of 470 feet, rendering it distinguishable
twenty-eight miles away. Unfortunately, however, the extreme elevation
of the light often causes it to be enshrouded in impenetrable banks of
clouds, which drape the headland; so in 1880 an auxiliary light was
established, 346 feet below the upper light. This beam is similar in
character to the one above, and, from its elevation of 124 feet above
the water, it may be picked up from seventeen miles out. Consequently,
in foggy weather the lower light may be seen when the upper beacon is
obscured. This is one of the most important points on the coast, being
a marine telegraph, signal, and ice-report station, while it is also
fitted with wireless telegraphy. An interesting feature in connection
with this light is that it was kept going for three generations by one
family, the Coltons, whose name is legendary in Quebec, and some of
whom were born and died on Belle Ile.

[Illustration: THE BATISCAN FRONT RANGE LIGHTHOUSE, RIVER ST. LAWRENCE.

_By courtesy of Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson._]

[Illustration: ISLE ST. THÉRÈSE UPPER RANGE BACK LIGHTHOUSE, RIVER ST.
LAWRENCE.

_By courtesy of Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson._]

The second light, on the northern extremity of the island, to indicate
the northern entrance into the straits, is of recent date, having
been brought into operation in 1905. It is a tower of iron, encased
in a white octagonal reinforced concrete covering capped with a red
polygonal-shaped lantern throwing a flash of half a second once every
eleven seconds from a height of 137 feet, visible from a distance of
seventeen miles.

Fogs and mists are two great perils peculiar to this northern waterway,
so the splendid lighting arrangements are supported by excellent and
powerful fog-signals. The northern light has a diaphone giving a blare
lasting three and a half seconds every minute, while the southern
station has a siren giving a double tone. First there is a low note of
two and a half seconds followed by silence for two and a half seconds;
then a high note of two and a half seconds and a silent interval of
112½ seconds. This signal is emitted from a point midway between the
upper and lower lights, the air for the blast being compressed by
water-power. Another humane provision is the depot at the southern
station, which is kept stocked with food supplies for the benefit of
shipwrecked mariners. In 1898 a freighter carrying a deck-load of 400
oxen went ashore beneath this light and became a hopeless wreck. The
crew, realizing the impossibility of saving the animals, fired the
ship, so that the animals were suffocated and bruised, thereby sparing
the inhabitants of the island a deadly risk, and solving the difficult
problem which otherwise would have arisen, had the brutes been drowned
in the ordinary way and their decomposing carcasses cast up on the
beach. In the following year the Dominion liner _Scotsman_ crashed on
to the rocks near the same spot, and likewise became a total loss, with
a death-roll of nine. By dint of great effort the survivors scrambled
ashore, and had a weary trudge of nine miles over a broken, rock-strewn
wilderness to gain the lighthouse station and assistance, arriving in a
famished and exhausted condition, to be tended by the light-keepers and
their families.

Belle Ile is a lonely station in the fullest sense of the word,
although the keepers are better off now than they were a few years
ago. The straits are busy in the summer, being crowded with shipping,
but with the coming of November all life disappears, and the liners
do not return until the following May or June. The rock is cut off
from the mainland by the masses of ice which pile up in the estuary,
together with the crowds of icebergs which come down from Greenland.
For six months the guardians of the light are isolated from the world
at large, although they have a slender link of communication in the
submarine cable. But the storms and stress of winter often rupture this
line, and, as the wireless installation is closed down when navigation
ceases, the keepers and their families settle down to a silent, weary
vigil, knowing nothing of the rest of the world, and all but forgotten
by civilization, because an interruption in the cable cannot be
repaired until the ice disappears.

[Illustration: UPPER TRAVERSE LIGHTHOUSE IN THE RIVER ST. LAWRENCE.]

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson._

AN “ICE SHOVE” UPON THE BACK RANGE LIGHT IN LAKE ST. PETER.

This photo gives a striking idea of the trouble experienced with ice in
Canadian waters.]

Even when the Gulf of the St. Lawrence is entered, the navigator is not
free from peril. The waterway is littered with rocks and islands. Among
these are Coffin Island and Anticosti, the latter being the private
property of M. Henri Ménier, the French chocolate magnate. For many
years the St. Lawrence was a byword to navigation, and wrecks were
numerous. It was shunned by navigators and abhorred by underwriters.
Even to this day the latter regard it askance, and the insurance rates
are high upon vessels trading in these waters. Through the efforts
of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, the Dominion Government
is removing this stigma from their great marine avenue, and their
engineer-in-chief. Lieutenant-Colonel William P. Anderson, to whom I am
indebted for much information concerning the guardians of the Canadian
coasts, has displayed commendable enterprise and ingenuity in combating
the natural odds pitted against human endeavour to render the coasts of
the country more friendly to navigation.

In the St. Lawrence the great foe is ice. Its onslaughts are terrific,
and none but the strongest works has a chance to survive the enormous
pressure exerted when the ice is on the run after the break of winter.
As is well known, for some five months in the year the river is frozen
so thick and solid that it will support a train. Naturally, when this
armour collapses, and the floes are hurled seawards by the current,
they concentrate their destructive energies upon any obstacles in
their way, piling up in huge masses weighing thousands of tons. It is
no uncommon circumstance for the floes to pack in a jagged heap 50
feet high, while all the time there is a continual push against the
obstruction.

Under these circumstances extreme ingenuity has to be displayed in
the erection of the fixed lights. The floating lights, such as buoys,
escape this peril, as they are picked up when navigation ceases, to be
housed in quarters on dry land, and replaced when the river is open
once more. Yet it is not only the ice in itself which causes trouble.
The level of the river rises when the ice is running, and this pressure
alone is enormous, while the scouring action about the foundations
is terrific. The type of structure adopted varies with the situation
and character of the light. The beacons for the aid of navigation, in
common with the practice upon American waterways, are divided into
groups or ranges, and the captain picks out his channel by keeping
these lights and marks in various lines. Maybe four or five lights have
to be brought into line, and accordingly the height of the unit of each
range varies from its fellow. Thus, the front light will be low, that
behind a little higher, and so on, until the last light in the group,
or “back light” of the range, as it is called, is a lofty structure.

In some places the light is placed in mid-stream, and perhaps
mounted upon a massive, high, steel caisson, resting upon a concrete
foundation, thereby proving immovable to the most powerful of
ice-shoves. Or a large pier carried out in ferro-concrete and pyramidal
in shape is used. In the case of the back light there is a skeleton
tower, which structure is employed to gain the necessary height.
This is carried upon a high, huge, solid plinth of concrete, even
if built against the bank. The frazil ice dams the channel, causing
the water to rise, and unless the foregoing precautions were adopted
widespread damage would result. All the lights between the gulf and
Montreal have to be protected in this manner, so that it will be seen
that the adequate lighting of this waterway bristles with engineering
difficulties of no light character, and is expensive.

The Canadian Government also is responsible, to a certain extent,
for the lighting of the Great Lakes, which is described in another
chapter, where similar difficulties prevail. It has also a long
stretch of the most rugged part of the Pacific coast to patrol,
aggregating about 600 miles between Victoria and Vancouver to the
Portland Canal, where Canadian meets Alaskan territory. This is a
wicked coast, broken and battered, as well as flanked by an outer
barrier of islands, recalling the Scandinavian Peninsula in its general
topographical characteristics. During the past few years the necessity
of lighting this seaboard adequately has become more pronounced, owing
to the creation of the new port of Prince Rupert, a few miles below
Alaskan territory, where the Grand Trunk Pacific reaches down to
the western sea, and the growing sea-borne traffic with Alaska. The
fact that a large portion of this navigation is maintained through
the inside passages, bristling with sharp turns, narrow defiles, and
jagged headlands, which for the most part are wrapped generally in
fog, renders the lighting problem more intricate. Probably the most
important light, and certainly the loftiest on the Pacific seacoast
north of the Equator, is that on the summit of Triangle Island,
British Columbia. It was built in 1910, and although the lantern itself
is only 46 feet in height, the elevation of the headland brings the
white group-flashing light of 1,000,000 candle-power 700 feet above
the sea, giving it a range of thirty-four miles. Four flashes are
emitted during each ten seconds, each flash lasting 0·28 second with
intervening eclipses each of 1·28 seconds, with an eclipse between each
group of 5·94 seconds.

Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson has introduced a new type of reinforced
concrete lighthouse with flying buttresses. The latter are not required
for strength, but are utilized to give greater stiffness to the tower,
as a column 100 feet or more in height, no matter how strongly it may
be built, must vibrate and swing in high winds. Yet it is desirable
to keep the lantern as steady as possible, and this is achieved much
more completely upon the above principle. The engineer-in-chief of
the lighthouse authority of the Canadian Government considers this
method of construction to be the last word in lighthouse building, and
has completed some notable works upon these lines. Perhaps the most
important is the Estevan Point light, on the west coast of Vancouver,
at a place known as Hole-in-the-Wall. The tower, of octagonal, tapering
form, is 127 feet in height, and throws a white group-flashing light,
comprising three flashes each of 9·3 seconds with two eclipses, each of
1·37 seconds, and a final eclipse of 6·36 seconds between each group,
seventeen miles out to sea. The surroundings of this station are most
romantic. Landing anywhere in its vicinity is extremely difficult and
dangerous, and the engineer had to select a point about two miles
distant for this purpose. From this place a road and tramway have been
laid through a grand primeval forest, such as is to be found only upon
Vancouver Island, wherein roams a drove of magnificent wild cattle.

While the Canadian coast cannot point to any lighthouse work comparing
with the Eddystone, Skerryvore, or Heaux de Bréhat, yet its most
powerful beacons are of a commanding character, representing as they
do the latest and best in connection with coast lighting. There is an
enormous stretch of difficult shore to patrol, along which has to
be guided an immense volume of valuable shipping. In addition to the
attended lights, the Government has been extremely enterprising in the
adoption of unattended beacons (described in another chapter), miles
of lonely, inhospitable shore being guarded in this way. Although the
development in this direction is of comparatively recent date, the
protection of maritime trade is being carried out in accordance with
a comprehensive policy, so that within a few years the coasts of the
Dominion will be rendered as safe to the shipping of the world as human
ingenuity can contrive.



CHAPTER XIII

THE MINOT’S LEDGE LIGHT


Lovers of Longfellow will recall the poet’s song to the lighthouse,
but how many of his admirers know to what beacon these stirring lines
refer? When they were penned the author had in his mind’s eye an
example of the engineer’s handiwork which ranks as one of the finest
sea-rock lights in existence, worthy of comparison with the most famous
of similar structures scattered throughout the waters washing the Old
World.

This is the far-famed Minot’s Ledge light, warning the seafarer making
to and from Boston Bay of the terrible peril which lurks beneath the
waves on the southern side of the entrance to this busy indentation.
“Like the great giant Christopher it stands,” a powerful monument to
engineering genius, dogged perseverance against overwhelming odds, and
a grim, bitter contest lasting five weary years between the implacable
elements and human endeavour. The Minot Ledge is one of those jagged
reefs which thrust themselves far out into the sea, studded with
pinnacles and chisel-like edges, which never, or very seldom, protrude
above the waves. Ship after ship fouled this danger spot, either to be
sunk or to be so badly crippled that it barely could contrive to crawl
to safety.

The prosperity of Boston was threatened by this peril to shipping, and
therefore it is not surprising that a resolution was passed to devise
some ways and means of indicating its presence to those who go down
to the sea in ships. The solution was offered in a skeleton structure
fashioned from iron, which was designed by Captain W. H. Swift, of the
United States Topographical Engineers. He searched the reef through and
through to ascertain the point where the beacon should be placed so as
to prove of the greatest value. This in itself was no simple matter,
inasmuch as Minot’s Ledge is but one of a great area of wicked crags,
which collectively are known as the Cohasset Rocks, and which straggle
over the sea-bed in all directions. After the position had been
reconnoitred thoroughly, and sounding and levels had been taken, the
engineer decided that the most seaward rock of the group, known as the
Outer Minot, would be the most strategical position, and accordingly he
planned to erect his beacon thereon.

It was a daring proposal, because the reef at the point selected only
exposes some 25 feet of its mass above the falling tide, and then the
highest point of the rock scarcely thrusts itself 3½ feet into the air.
It was realized that the periods of working between the tides would
inevitably be very brief, while even then, owing to the open position
of the ridge, a landing would only be possible in very smooth weather,
and the men would have to suffer exposure to the fury of the waves as
they dashed over the ledge.

Captain Swift decided upon a skeleton iron structure, not only because
it would be quicker to erect and would cost less, but because it
would offer the least resistance to the waves, which would be free to
expend their energy among the stilts. The task was taken in hand at
the first favourable opportunity, and, the system lending itself to
rapid construction, marked progress was made every time the workmen
succeeded in getting on the ledge. The lantern and keepers’ quarters
were supported upon nine piles, 60 feet above the rock. The legs were
so disposed that eight described the circumference of a circle, while
the ninth constituted the axis.

This tower was completed in 1848, and for the first time the navigator
making these treacherous waters received a powerful warning to keep
clear of Minot’s Ledge. For three years the beacon survived the
battering of wind and wave, but its welcome beam was last seen on the
night of April 16, 1851. In the spring of that year a gale of terrific
fury beat upon the Massachusetts coast. The wind freshened on April
13; the next day it rose to its full force, and did not abate for
four days. The good people of Boston grew apprehensive concerning the
plight of the two keepers of the lonely Minot’s light, but, however
willing they might have been to have put out to the beacon, they were
absolutely impotent before the ferocity of the elements. Time after
time the light vanished from sight as it was enveloped in an angry
curling mountain of water. On April 17 the doleful tolling of the
lighthouse bell was heard, but the light was never seen again. The
structure had slipped completely from sight, together with its faithful
keepers, swallowed by the hungry Atlantic. Evidently the wail of the
bell was a last plea for assistance, because no doubt the lighthouse
had bowed to the storm and was tottering when the tolling rang out. But
the call brought no help; it was the funeral knell of the guardians of
the beacon. When the sea went down a boat pushed off to the ledge, and
all that was seen were a few bent piles. Captain Swift had done his
work well. The waves could not tear his beacon up by the roots, so had
snapped off the piles like carrots, and had carried away the lantern.

[Illustration: THE MINOT’S LEDGE LIGHT.

Marking the rock off Boston Harbour, it is one of the greatest works
completed by the lighthouse builders of the United States. It forms the
theme of Longfellow’s well-known poem.]

This sensational disaster, after a brief existence of three years,
did not augur well for the permanence of a light upon this precarious
ledge. The Outer Minot appeared to be determined to continue its
plunder of ships, cargoes, and lives, untrammelled. Accordingly, for
three years no effort was made to bring about its subjugation.

In 1855 General Barnard, one of the most illustrious engineers which
the United States has ever produced, brought forward the plans for a
structure which he thought would resist the most formidable attacks of
wind and wave. He took Rudyerd’s famous Eddystone tower as his pattern.
This was perhaps the strongest design that could be carried out against
the sea, having one weak point only--it was built of wood. General
Barnard contemplated a similar structure for Minot’s Ledge, but in
masonry.

The Lighthouse Board, which had recently been inaugurated to control
the lighthouses around the coasts of the country, examined the idea
minutely, and submitted the design to the most expert criticism and
discussion, but all were so impressed with its outstanding features
that they decided to support it whole-heartedly. A minute survey of the
rock was prepared, and the plans were straight away perfected for the
preparation of the masonry on shore. So carefully was this work carried
out, that, with the exception of a few blocks of masonry constituting
the foundations, which had to be prepared on the site, and some slight
variations in the method of construction, the original ideas were
fulfilled.

Work was commenced in 1855, the building operations being placed in the
hands of B. S. Alexander, at that time Lieutenant of Engineers, and
the successful completion of the work was due in a very great measure
to his ability and ingenuity, because the whole undertaking was placed
in his hands and he had to overcome difficulties at every turn as they
arose.

The builder was handicapped in every way. First there was the brief
period in which operations could be carried out upon the site, the
working season extending only from April 1 to September 15 in each
year. This is not to say that the masons were able to toil upon the
rock continuously every day during this interval--far from it. In order
to get the foundations laid there were three essentials--a perfectly
smooth sea, a dead calm, and low spring-tides. Needless to say, it was
on very rare occasions indeed that these three requirements were in
harmony. As a matter of fact, they could occur only about six times
during every lunar month--three times during full moon, and three at
the change. Even then, either the wind or the sea intervened to nullify
the benefits arising from the lowest tides. So much so that, although
work commenced at daybreak on Sunday, July 1, 1855, only 130 working
hours were possible upon the rock before labours ceased for the season
in the middle of the following September.

[Illustration: TENDER LANDING BUILDING MATERIAL UPON THE TILLAMOOK ROCK.

A derrick has been provided to facilitate these operations, while a
stairway leads from the landing point to the lighthouse.]

On gaining the rock, Lieutenant Alexander decided to make use of
the holes which had been driven into the granitic mass by Captain
Swift to receive the piles of the previous structure. The twisted
and broken pieces of iron were withdrawn and the holes cleaned out.
Simultaneously the upper surface of the rock was pared and trimmed by
the aid of chisels, which was no easy task, because at times the masons
were compelled to manipulate their tools as best they could in two
or three feet of water. This preparation of the rock to receive the
base constituted one of the most notable features of the work. In the
greater number of other outstanding achievements upon sea-rocks the
surface of the latter has been above the waves at lowest spring-tides,
whereas in this case a great part of the foundation work was
continuously submerged.

This preparation of the rock-face necessitated the final trimming and
shaping upon the site of many of the masonry blocks forming the root of
the tower. They could not possibly be prepared ashore to bring about
the tight fit which was imperative. Accordingly, all but the bottom
faces of the blocks were prepared in the depot on the mainland, and
they were then shipped to the ledge for final paring and trimming.

The attachment of the bottom courses to the rock-face was carried
out very ingeniously. Bags of sand were brought on to the rock and
laid around the spot upon which a particular block of stone was to be
laid. The sacks, being filled with sand, were pliable, so that, when
deposited, they adapted themselves to the contour of the ledge, and
prevented the water making its way in under the rampart. The water
within this small dam was then removed, sponges being used in the
final emptying task, so as to suck out the salt sea from the cracks
and crevices, leaving the surface on which the block of stone was to
be laid quite dry. A film of cement was then trowelled upon the rock
surface, and upon this was laid a sheet of muslin. The inclusion of the
muslin was a wise precaution, because while the work was in progress
a wandering wave was liable to curl over the rock, swamping the small
dried space, when, but for the presence of the muslin, the cement
would have been carried away. At the same time the cement was able to
penetrate the meshes of the muslin when the stone was deposited, so as
to grip the surface of the latter and to hold it tightly in position.

Under such abnormal conditions of working the masons had many exciting
moments. No matter how smooth was the sea, several renegade waves
would plunge over the ledge. The masons had to be prepared for these
unwelcome visitors, and precautions had to be introduced to prevent
them being washed off their slender foothold. A substantial iron
staging was erected over the working area on the rock, to facilitate
the handling of the building material. A number of ropes were attached
to this staging, the free ends of which dangled beside the workmen.
These were the life-lines, one being provided for each man. A lookout
was posted, who, when he saw a wave approaching and bent upon sweeping
the rock, gave a shrill signal. Instantly each workman dropped his
tools, clutched his life-line tightly, threw himself prostrate on the
rock, and allowed the wave to pass over him. The situation certainly
was uncomfortable, and the men often toiled in soddened clothes, but
an involuntary bath was preferable to the loss of a life or to broken
limbs.

Work advanced so slowly that during the first two years, which were
devoted to the excavation of the pit and the preparations of the
rock-face, only 287 hours’ work were accomplished. In the third year
this task was completed, and four stones laid in a further 130 hours
21 minutes. By the end of the working season of 1859 twenty-six
courses were finished, so that, while the volume of work fulfilled in
1,102 hours 21 minutes, and spread over five years, certainly was not
imposing, it was remarkable under the circumstances.

The stones for the foundations were sent from shore with the indication
-3’ 5”, -2’ 9”, -1’ 3”, and so on, indicating that these stones were
prepared for positions 3 feet 5 inches, 2 feet 9 inches, and so on,
below zero. And the zero mark was 21 inches below water! Above the zero
mark the stones were prefixed by a “plus” sign.

The shaft is purely conical, and solid except for a central well
extending from the foundations up to the level of the entrance. The
successive courses of stones were secured to one another, and each
stone was attached to its neighbour in the ring by the aid of heavy
iron dogs, so that the lower part of the shaft forms a practically
solid homogenous mass. What are known as continuous “dowels” were
sunk through each course of masonry into the holes in the solid
rock prepared by Captain Swift for his skeleton light, this further
attachment of the mass to the ledge being continued until the twelfth
course was gained. Thus additional security is obtained by anchoring
the tower firmly to the reef.

The solid portion of the building is 40 feet in height from the level
of the first complete ring of stones, and the tower is 80 feet high
to the lantern gallery. The over-all height to the top of the lantern
cupola is 102¾ feet, while the focal plane is 84½ feet above mean
high-water. The first stone was laid on July 9, 1857, while the masons
completed their duties on June 29, 1860, so that five years were
occupied upon the work. In erection 3,514 tons of rough and 2,367 tons
of hammered stone, in addition to 1,079 numbered stones, were used, and
the total cost, including the light-keepers’ houses on the mainland,
was £60,000, or $300,000, so that it ranks among the more costly lights
which have been provided for the seafarer’s benefit.

On November 15, 1860, nine and a half years after the destruction of
the first beacon, the light was once more thrown from Minot’s Ledge for
the benefit of passing ships. The light is of the second order, visible
fourteen and three-quarter miles out to sea, and is of the flashing
type, signalling “143” every thirty seconds thus--one flash followed by
three seconds’ darkness, four flashes with three seconds’ eclipse, and
three flashes with an interval of fifteen seconds’ darkness.

The tower has been subjected to repeated prodigious assaults, the
north-east gales in particular thundering upon this reef with
tremendous fury, but it has withstood all attacks with complete
success.



CHAPTER XIV

THE TILLAMOOK ROCK LIGHT-STATION


While the Northern Pacific Ocean is the loneliest stretch of salt water
in the world, yet it possesses one or two busy corners. Prominent among
the latter is that where it washes the shores of the United States
around the entrance to the mighty Columbia River. The estuary is wide,
and, although navigation is handicapped by a bar, it is well protected.
But coming up from the south there is a stretch of terribly forbidding
coastline, with the cliffs at places towering 1,500 feet or more into
the air and dropping sheer into the water. Rock-slides are of frequent
occurrence, and the beach is littered with heavy falls from above. Here
and there protuberances rise from the sea, formed of rock sufficiently
dense and hard to withstand more effectively the process of erosion,
only to constitute fearful menaces to navigation. Often the mainland
is completely obscured, either by streaks of mist or heavy clouds of
smoke produced by forest fires, which in the dry season rage with great
violence. A ship caught within the toils of this stern coast has no
possible chance of escape, while the crew would find it difficult to
get ashore, inasmuch as at places there is not a single landing-place
within a distance of twenty miles.

Owing to the coast being frequently blotted from view, and to the fact
that this stretch of sea is swept by furious storms, the plight of
the mariner making to or from the Columbia River became exceedingly
precarious. The worst tragedy of these waters was enacted on the dark
and stormy night of January 3, 1881, when the sailing-ship _Lupata_
lost her way and went to pieces on the rocks off Tillamook Head.

Under these circumstances it is not surprising that an outcry arose
for protection along this lonely reach of Oregon’s jagged shoreline.
The authorities responded to the agitation by the promise to erect
a lighthouse, once they should have decided the site, which was the
really perplexing question. In the first instance it was thought that
its location upon the mainland would suffice, but a survey betrayed
the futility of such a choice. The light would be too elevated to be
of any service; for the greater part of its time it would be rendered
invisible by land fogs. Then, again, it would mean cutting a road for a
distance of twenty miles through heavy, undulating country and primeval
forest to gain the point, as the verdant sea of green timber extends to
the very brink of the cliffs.

After prolonged consideration, it was decided to erect the light upon
the Tillamook Rock. This is a hard mass of basalt, rising boldly from
the water to a height of 120 feet, which, when viewed from one side,
presented the appearance of a clenched fist. It stands about a mile
off the mainland, twenty miles south of the Columbia River mouth, and
drops plumb into the sea, where the lead gives readings ranging from
96 to 240 feet. The whole area of the rock is less than one acre, and
it is split almost in two; another isolated knot of basalt, upon which
the seas break heavily when a storm is raging, rears its shaggy head
into the air near by at low-tide. The only possible landing-point is
on the east side, where there is a beach sloping upwards sharply from
the water to the crest. When the ocean is roused the sight certainly is
terrifying. The waves fall with shivering force upon the base of the
rock, to rush up its ragged sides and sweep right over its crest in a
dense curtain of angrily frothing water and whipping spray.

Despite its fearsome character, this rock constituted the most
serviceable situation for a light, for the reason that, being a mile
from the shore, it was free from land fogs and clouds. The decision
of the authorities depended upon three factors only--that a landing
could be made, the rock occupied, and the requisite building materials
unloaded. The introduction of such a saving clause was politic,
because at first it seemed as if the rock would defy the gaining of
a foothold. The ghastly failure attending the survey, as described in
a previous chapter, brought public opinion into dead opposition to
the project, and many fearsome stories were circulated sedulously up
and down the coast and among the towns fringing the Columbia River
concerning the perils, hardships, and terrible death-roll, which would
attend any attempt to place a beacon on this rock.

After the disaster the authorities pressed forward the enterprise with
greater vigour than ever, so as to get work well under way before
public opinion would be able to make its influence felt upon the
unsophisticated minds of workmen required to carry out the undertaking.
A daring, determined, and energetic leader was secured in Mr. A.
Ballantyne, and he was deputed to rally a force of eight or more highly
skilled quarrymen with whom to proceed to Astoria, where the land
headquarters were to be established. He was informed that upon arrival
at this point he would find everything in readiness for his immediate
departure to the rock, with all essentials to enable him to commence
work at once and to provide quarters for the workmen, who would be
compelled to suffer isolation and a certain amount of discomfort for
weeks at a time. It was impossible to take more than a handful of men
at first, owing to the difficulty of landing provisions.

Mr. Ballantyne started off with his small picked force, reached
Astoria on September 24, 1879, and there suffered his first check. The
autumn gales had sprung up, rendering approach to the rock absolutely
hopeless. There was no alternative; he must wait until the weather
moderated. As this might be a question of a few hours, days, or perhaps
a week or two, the chief grew anxious concerning his force. If the men,
having nothing to do, wandered idly about the town, making acquaintance
with all and sundry and listening to gossip, then they could not fail
to be impressed with the extraordinary stories concerning dangers,
hardships, perils, and adventures; would conclude that the Tillamook
was a “hoodoo” rock; and would desert him promptly. To guard against
this contingency, the quarrymen were hurried off and temporarily housed
in the old light-keeper’s dwelling at the Cape Disappointment light,
some miles away on the northern portal of the estuary, where they were
safe from pernicious influences.

[Illustration: THE TILLAMOOK ROCK LIGHT STATION FROM THE SOUTH.

Rising from the sea one mile off the Oregon Coast, it was for years a
terrible danger spot. The light of 160,000 candle-power, 132 feet above
high water, is visible for 18 miles.]

After twenty-six days of enforced idleness the squad was picked up by a
revenue cutter, which steamed to the rock, and made fast to a buoy that
had been laid previously for mooring the vessels deputed to transport
building materials and other requirements. With extreme difficulty four
men were got on the rock, together with a supply of hammers, drills,
iron ring-bolts, a stove, provisions, supplies, and an abundance of
canvas, with which the advance staff were to erect temporary shelters
and to make themselves as comfortable as they could. While the work
was in progress the wind freshened, the swell rose, and the boat had
to retire hurriedly before the remainder of the force could be landed;
but five days later they were transferred to the rock, together with
further provisions and supplies, as well as a derrick.

The little party soon received a taste of what life would be in this
lonely spot. Three days after the second landing, and before they had
shaken down to their strange surroundings, a gale sprang up. Heavy seas
pounded the rock, and the waves, mounting its vertical face, threw
themselves over its crest, drenching the workmen and their sleeping
blankets. It was a startling episode, but it became so frequent that
the quarrymen became inured to their fate, and were not perturbed in
any way, except when the Pacific was roused to exceptional fury.

When the first four men gained the rock it was seen that the landing
of material, especially the heavier incidentals, would constitute the
greatest difficulty. Then an ingenious idea was advanced. Why not rig
a heavy rope between the mast of the vessel and the top of the rock,
draw it taut, and devise a traveller to run to and fro? It was a
practical suggestion and was adopted forthwith. With much difficulty
a 4½-inch rope was towed from the vessel--to the mast of which one
end was secured--to the rock, and grabbed by those in occupation.
This end was anchored firmly, and constituted the track. Then a large
single block was rigged to this main line in such a way that it could
move freely to and fro along the cable. This block was provided with a
heavy hook on which the weights could be slung. Other blocks were fixed
on the vessel and on the rock, while an endless line, passing through
these blocks at each end, and attached to the shank of the hook on the
travelling block, enabled the traveller to be pulled freely and easily
in either direction.

Both men and supplies were transferred from ship to shore by this
primitive, albeit ingenious, system. The men were carried in a novel
device, described as a “breeches-buoy,” such as is used with the rocket
life-saving apparatus, but of very crude design improvised on the spot.
It was contrived from an ordinary circular rubber life-preserver, to
which a pair of trousers cut short at the knees were lashed tightly.
This was suspended from the block-hook by means of three short lengths
of rope. The trip through the air certainly was novel, and not free
from excitement; indeed, there was just sufficient spice of adventure
about it to appeal to the rough-and-ready, intrepid spirits who
constituted the forces of the lighthouse engineer. Also, owing to the
primitive character of the apparatus, there was just the chance that
something would go wrong when the man was between ship and rock. The
breeches were provided to hold the man in a safe position while in the
air, to guard against a loss of balance and tipping out; while should
anything give way, and the man make an unexpected plunge into the
water, the life-preserver would keep him afloat until a boat could draw
alongside to rescue him.

[Illustration: THE CONQUEST OF THE TILLAMOOK.

The top of the crag was blasted off to provide a level space for the
lighthouse.]

[Illustration: THE TERRIBLE TILLAMOOK ROCK.

Showing how the menace rises abruptly from the sea on one side.]

There was another factor which had to be taken into consideration, and
which certainly contributed to the novelty of the trip. As the boat
responded to the action of the waves the rope alternately drew tight
and sagged. When she rolled towards the rock the cable was slackened,
and the man generally had a ducking; the next moment, when the vessel
rolled in the opposite direction, he was whisked unceremoniously and
suddenly into the air. It was like being suspended at the end of a
piece of elastic. The men for the most part enjoyed the fun of the
journey, and considered it a new and exhilarating “divarshun.” Among
themselves the effort was to travel in either direction so as to escape
a cold douche on the journey. When the water was rough, speculation
took the form of guessing how many dips into the water would be made
before either terminus was gained.

This novel landing method provoked one amusing incident. The
supply-boat came out to the rock one day bringing a new raw hand.
The cableway was rigged up, and the workman prepared for his ride
to the rock. But the man was somewhat corpulent, and could not be
thrust through the preserver. This was an unexpected _contretemps_,
and it seemed as if the superintendent would have to let his recruit
return. But Ballantyne did not worry over trifles, neither did he
relish the idea of losing a hand after having him brought so far, so
he put forward a somewhat daring proposal. He told the captain of the
steamer to lash the workman to the top of the buoy, and they would
pull him ashore all right. The labourer was scared out of his wits at
this suggestion, and resented being handled as if he were a balk of
timber. Why, even the perishable articles were unloaded in casks to
protect them from the wet. He expressed his determination to see them
to perdition before he would make a trip through the air under such
conditions. Ballantyne was somewhat crestfallen at the cold reception
of his brilliant idea, so told the captain to take the workman back to
Astoria, and to ransack the place to discover a buoy which would be big
enough to fit him.

Two days later the vessel returned with the larger buoy and also the
corpulent quarryman. His second glimpse of the primitive travelling
frightened him worse than ever, and he point blank refused to budge.
In order to reassure the raw hand, Ballantyne hauled the buoy ashore,
and, jumping into it, made a journey, to illustrate that the system was
perfectly safe, and that one need not even get wet. But Ballantyne’s
demonstration was rather unfortunate. The cable was slack, and the
ship rolled heavily. Result: the superintendent was dragged through
the water for nearly the whole distance, and at times nothing of him
could be seen. When he landed on the boat, half-winded and drenched to
the skin, the quarryman was scared more than ever, and announced his
intention to return to Astoria. Ballantyne cajoled, coaxed, argued,
and stormed, in turn, but to no avail. Then another idea came to his
fertile mind. If the man would not travel via the breeches-buoy,
why not send him ashore in a bos’n’s chair? This was rigged up
satisfactorily, and therein the workman consented to go ashore, though
not without the display of considerable trepidation and anxiety to
keep out of the water. They got him on the rock safely, and without so
much as wetting the soles of his feet. The quarryman by his resolute
opposition set up a record. He was the first man to land dry on the
Tillamook.

Subsequently this novel and, so far as it went, efficient method of
“quick transit” was superseded when the men on the rock got their big
derrick to work. The long arm of this appliance leaned over the water
far enough to pick up the goods direct from the deck of the vessel
moored off the rock. This system was quicker, and enabled the goods to
be got ashore unsoiled.

The first men to land found the rock in the occupation of sea-lions,
who swarmed its scaly sides in huge numbers, even making their way to
the crest to bask in the sunshine. These tenants at first resented the
white man’s invasion, and were somewhat troublesome; but at last they
recognized that their eviction was certain, so suddenly deserted in a
body to another equally wild spot farther south.

The first task was the preparation of the site for the building. The
fist-like overhanging crest was attacked to prepare a foundation,
thereby reducing the height from 120 to 91 feet. The rock surface was
scarred and riven in a fantastic manner, owing to the scouring action
of the waves eroding the soft portions leaving the hard rock behind in
the form of needles, scales, and ugly crevices. The outer part of the
rock, moreover, was found to be of an unreliable character, being more
or less rotten, while the core, on the other hand, was intensely hard,
and promised an excellent foundation for the beacon. The superfluous
mass was removed by blasting, this being carried out with extreme care
and in small sections at a time. The largest blasts did not remove
more than 130 cubic yards, or tons, of débris at one time. This slow
blasting, by handfuls as it were, was necessary so as not to shatter or
impair the solidity of the heart of the rock, which was to support the
buildings.

Drilling and blasting were carried out in the face of great
difficulties. Rain, rough seas, spray, and heavy winds, combined
to thwart the little band of workers toiling strenuously in solemn
loneliness upon this bleak crag. Often days would pass without any
tangible impression being made upon the surface. The drilling holes
would be swamped, and unless care was observed the powder charges ran
the risk of being damped and rendered impotent or uncertain in firing.
In the attack upon the crest the workmen distributed themselves around
the crown. On the precipitous side, as there was not a friendly ledge
on which to secure a foothold to work the drills, bolts were driven
into the rock-face, from which staging was suspended by ropes, and
on this swinging, crazy foothold the men drove their tools with salt
fleece whirling round them.

Until the men were able to erect more or less permanent quarters, their
plight at times was pitiable. The canvas was cut up and an A-tent was
rigged up. It was a cramped home, measuring 16 feet long by 6 feet
wide, while the ridge pole was only 4½ feet above the ground. This
domicile just held the ten men in their sleeping-blankets. Naturally,
they had to crawl rather than walk about, and, as the shelter served
as a dining-room as well, the little band had to tolerate many
discomforts. When the wind howled round the rock, causing the canvas to
flap violently and threatening to carry it away at every turn, when the
sea swarmed over the rock, and when the heavy rains to which this coast
is subject poured down pitilessly, the men never knew what it was to
have dry clothing or bedding. Cooking was carried on in the open, and
the kitchen arrangements had to be shifted from time to time, according
to the direction of the wind, so that the fire was brought on the lee
side of the shelter.

The workers were exposed to danger on all sides incessantly, but
fortunately in their chief, Ballantyne, they had one of those men who
appear to be made for such contingencies; who was alert, ready for
any emergency, nursed his staff sedulously, and whose buoyant spirits
dispelled all feelings of gloom, loneliness, or homesickness. The
little band toiled hard and long through the rough autumnal weather,
and the arrival of stern winter did not bring any cessation in their
labours. They fought the rock grimly and ignored hardship. Certainly,
they were cheered by the arrival of the boats with supplies, but
occasionally a fortnight or more would pass without a call being made
at the rock, and often, when a boat did come up and prepare to land
material, it had to slip its anchor hastily to make a frantic run for
safety before the rising swell and the gathering storm.

Early in January Nature concentrated her forces, as if bent upon a
supreme effort to shake the determination and courage of the little
army striving so valiantly upon the rock. On the night of New Year’s
Day the clouds assumed an ominous appearance, and accordingly the
workmen were not surprised to meet a stormy and rainy reception
when they made their way to their duties the following morning. The
weather grew worse on the third day, the spray enveloping the rock
and drenching the men, while the wind blew so fiercely that they
could scarcely keep their feet. During the next two days it increased
in force, while the sea grew angrier. On the 6th the elements were
raging in torment, and in the afternoon Ballantyne, taking stock of
the meteorological signs, came to the conclusion that the party “were
in for it.” A hurricane, or possibly a tornado, was looming. The
tools were being swung with infinite difficulty, when suddenly came
the signal “Stop work!” Ballantyne urged them to set to at once to
lash everything securely. At six o’clock in the evening the hurricane
burst, and the workmen witnessed a sight such as they had never seen
before. The whole coast was in the grip of a tornado, of which the
Tillamook Rock was the vortex, whereon the elements concentrated their
destructive forces. The huge rollers assumed an uglier appearance than
ever; the broken water rushed up the steep sides into the air, where
it was caught by the whirling wind and dashed on the tiny camp. It was
impossible to escape that savage attack, as it was driven home from
all sides simultaneously. The men took to their permanent quarters in
silence and very gloomy. By midnight the roof was being peppered with
huge masses of rock, which, detached by the waves, were caught up and
thrown clean over the rock. Ballantyne urged the men to stay in their
bunks, to keep up their spirits, and to seek a little rest.

[Illustration: FAMOUS UNITED STATES LIGHTHOUSES OF TWO CENTURIES.

The rear tower was built on Cape Henry in 1789, with stones shipped
from Great Britain. Owing to the sand thrown up by the sea, another
light had to be provided nearer the water, and was completed in 1879.
The old light is retained as an historic building.]

But sleep was impossible. The quarrymen were scared out of their
wits, and there was every cause for their dismay. It seemed as if
the very rock itself must succumb to the savage onslaught. The din
was deafening; the rock shivered and trembled as the breakers hurled
themselves upon it.

It had just turned two. Suddenly one and all sat up in terror. There
was a fearful crash--a rending and splitting, which was heard plainly
above the weird howling of the hurricane. The men tumbled out of their
bunks panic-stricken, and were about to stampede from their shelter
to seek refuge upon a higher ledge. But Ballantyne’s pluck asserted
itself. He, too, had been scared by the awful noise, but he collected
his scattered wits more quickly than did his comrades. He grasped the
situation, and with iron nerve commanded all the men to stick tightly
where they were. An ugly rush seemed imminent, but he stood with his
back to the door, and in plain English dared the men to leave their
cover. Any man who attempted to fight his way to the upper refuge would
be swept overboard by the wind and sea.

The quarrymen were not cowards, and Ballantyne’s action steadied them.
Then the foreman announced his intention to go out to see what had
happened. He grabbed a storm-lantern and opened the door. Instantly he
was hurled back by the wind and sea, which appeared to be submerging
the rock. For two hours he stood waiting an opportunity to slip out
against the hurricane. At last he succeeded, and in the intense
darkness endeavoured to grope his way over the rock. He had been gone
only a few minutes when he staggered back, battered, shaken, and almost
exhausted. He could not make headway against the gale. So the men sat
down and silently waited the approach of dawn. Then they found that
the rushing waves had fallen upon the building in which all their
supplies were stored, had smashed it to atoms, and had destroyed and
carried away nearly all the provisions, the fresh-water tank, and other
articles, although the requisites for work were left untouched. It was
the break-up of this storehouse which had woke them from their slumbers
and had provoked the panic.

For ten days the gale raged, being more furious on some days than
others. When it decreased in fury the men were able to settle to their
work for an hour or two, but progress was painfully slow; on other days
not a tool could be picked up. On the 18th the revenue cutter came
out from Astoria to ascertain how the men had weathered the tornado,
and the signal for coal and provisions was answered immediately by
the lowering of a surf-boat. The sailors had a stiff pull to reach
the rock, found that the men still had a scanty supply of hard bread,
coffee, and bacon--this was all--and, taking off the letters, promised
to send supplies immediately. The construction ship also came up; the
captain sent ashore all the provisions he could spare, and undertook to
return at once with a full supply. But another ten days passed before
the sea went down enough to permit these to be landed, together with
five more men.

[Illustration: THE RACE ROCK LIGHT.

It marks a dangerous reef in Long Island Sound, where, owing to the
swift currents, construction of the foundations proved very difficult.]

Nature appeared to capitulate after this terrible assault, and work
proceeded rapidly. The crest of the rock was removed and levelled off,
to form an excellent platform for the reception of the beacon and other
buildings. An inclined tramway was excavated out of the rock-face,
communicating with the landing-stage, to facilitate the haulage of
the light-keepers’ necessities, and then the arrangements for the
completion of the building were hurried forward.

When the public saw that the work was being accomplished without loss
to life or limb, and that the plucky little party of toilers weathered
the gales, an intense interest was manifested in the undertaking. The
foreman was provided with an international code of signals, and passing
vessels, as an act of courtesy and in recognition of the work that was
being done to further their safety, always stood towards the rock to
render assistance in case it was required. The workmen appreciated this
feeling, and on two occasions, during dense fog, intimated to captains
who had lost their way, and were groping blindly round the rock, that
they were venturing into dangerous waters. The warning was primitive
but effective. It comprised the explosion of giant-powder cartridges
over the sea in the direction whence the ships’ sirens sounded. In both
instances the navigators heard the signals in the nick of time, and
were able to steer clear.

The lighthouse itself comprises a group of buildings for the keepers,
from which rises a square tower 48 feet in height, bringing the light
132 feet above mean high-water. The dwelling is built of stone,
measures 48 feet by 45 feet, and is one story in height. In addition
there is an extension for housing the powerful siren and its machinery.
The building contains adequate living-quarters, together with storage
rooms and a kitchen. As this light is particularly lonely, four keepers
are stationed on the rock, and their rooms each have a clear length of
12 feet by 10 feet wide. Also, as the rock is so difficult to approach,
and relief may suffer extreme delay from adverse weather, sufficient
provisions are stored to insure full rations for six months.

The light is of the first order, of 160,000 candle-power, and is
visible at a distance of eighteen miles in clear weather. It is a
brilliant white flashing beam, occurring once every five seconds, the
flash being of two seconds, followed by an eclipse of three seconds.
The fog-siren is likewise of the first order, driven by steam-engines.
This plant is in duplicate, and the signal is given every forty-five
seconds, the blast being of five seconds, followed by silence for forty
seconds.

The conquest of the Tillamook Rock has been one of the most difficult
tasks that the United States Lighthouse Board ever has accomplished.
The little band of quarrymen who braved danger, hardship, and
privation, effected occupation of the rock on October 21, 1879, and
the light was exhibited for the first time on January 21, 1881, the
total time occupied in the task being 575 days. It has robbed the
dreaded Oregon coast of one of its worst perils, and the money which
was devoted to the provision of this stalwart guardian--£24,698, or
$123,493--was indeed expended to good purpose.



CHAPTER XV

THE COAST LIGHTS OF THE UNITED STATES


Few nations have such a varied coastline to guard as the United States.
On the Atlantic seaboard the northern shore is a shaggy bold rampart of
lofty cliff, hard and pitiless. Farther south the rock gradually gives
way to sandy dunes, which the hungry sea is continually gnawing away
here and piling up somewhere else. Then, as the tropics are entered,
the sand in turn gives way to coral reefs, every whit as formidable as
rock and as treacherous as sand, where the hurricane reigns supreme
and makes its presence felt only too frequently. Across the continent
a similar variation, though not perhaps so intense, is observable on
the Pacific side. The coast range runs parallel with the shore, and
consequently cliff and precipice are common, owing to the lateral spurs
of the range coming to an abrupt termination where land and water meet.

The result is that no one type of beacon is possible of adoption as
a standard for the whole coastline. The class of structure has to be
modified to meet local conditions, but the battle between destruction
and preservation is none the less bitter and continuous. When ships
began to trade with the Atlantic seaboard of the United States, the
erection of warning lights became imperative. This duty was fulfilled
in the early days by local enterprise, and the first lighthouse on
the continent was built on Little Brewster Island, at the entrance to
Boston Harbour. It was completed about 1716, was a conical masonry
tower, and its cost, which is interesting as being set out to the
uttermost farthing--£2,285 17s. 8½d.--betrays the scrupulous commercial
integrity of the first financiers of the United States. The light was
maintained by the levy of a due of one penny per ton on all incoming
and outgoing vessels, except those engaged in coastal traffic, and was
collected by the same authority which subsequently got into trouble in
the endeavour to collect the tax on tea. This pioneer light is still
in service, although in 1783 it was rebuilt. The light, of the second
order, is 102 feet above mean high-water, and gives a white flash every
thirty seconds, which is visible from a distance of sixteen miles; the
fog-signal is a first-class siren, giving a blast of five seconds,
followed by silence for ten seconds, with a succeeding blast of five
seconds and silence for forty seconds.

The excellent example thus set by the good people of Boston was
followed by other States and individual authorities along the
coast. This system of local and arbitrary control was by no means
satisfactory, so in 1789 the Federal Government took over the control
of the lighthouse service, and entrusted its safe-keeping to the
Secretary of the Treasury. There were only eight lights to watch when
the cession was effected, but the growth of the country soon increased
the duties of the department. Accordingly, a decree was passed in 1817
whereby the control was transferred from the Secretary of the Treasury
to the fifth auditor of the same department, Mr. Stephen Pleasanton,
who became known as the General Superintendent of Lights. He assumed
the new office in 1820, taking over fifty-five lights, so that during
the thirty years the aids to navigation had been under the jurisdiction
of the Secretary of the Treasury forty-seven new stations had been
established.

The new official held the post for thirty-two years, and prosecuted
his work so diligently and systematically that by 1852 the service
had grown to 325 lighthouses, lightships, buoys, and other guides.
The lighthouses were maintained under contract, the contractor for
each light undertaking for a fixed annual sum to keep his charge in a
perfect state of repair, to supply all illuminant, wicks, chimneys,
and stores, that were required, as well as making one visit to the
lighthouse in the course of the year. Subsequently it became necessary
to award the contracts for terms of five years.

[Illustration: THE CARQUINEZ STRAIT LIGHT.

An imposing station on the north side of the entrance to the Strait.]

As time progressed, and the duties of the Superintendent became more
onerous, certain individuals took exception to the idea of such an
important service being entrusted to the charge of one man, vested with
wide discretionary powers. Accordingly, complaints were formulated
liberally, and the superintendent became the butt of venomous attack.
The outcome of this agitation was the formation of a committee, two
members of which were sent upon a mission of inspection to Great
Britain and France, the lighthouse services of which were stated to
be far superior to that of the United States, and more efficiently
controlled. The result of this investigation was the inauguration of
an official department known as the Lighthouse Board, constituted of
capable engineers. In 1852 this authority took over the administration
of the light service, which has remained under its control ever since.
In order to secure the utmost efficiency, the coasts were divided into
districts, each of which is presided over by an accomplished officer of
the United States Corps of Engineers, who is held directly responsible
to the Board at Washington for the lights in his area. So admirably
was the new authority constituted that it has never failed to give the
utmost satisfaction, and the result is that to-day the Lighthouse Board
of the United States is comparable with contemporary authorities in the
Old World.

In the early days the majority of the lights were placed on the
mainland, and as a rule comprised wooden towers, projecting from
the roof of the keepers’ dwelling, similar in character to some of
the older lights to be found on the coasts of Newfoundland and New
Brunswick in Canada. These buildings were cheap to construct, as they
were carried out upon the timber-frame principle; but they possessed
many disadvantages. The greatest objection arose from the attachment
of the tower to the roof frames of the house. Being exposed to the
full fury of the tempest, the tower in time would become loosened,
and the roof itself distorted, so that the inmates had to suffer the
inconvenience of water penetrating into their rooms. Even the
few masonry towers which were erected were of the most primitive
description, and soon fell victims to the ravages of the weather.

Accordingly, when the lighthouse administration was placed upon an
efficient footing, the first task was the complete overhaul, and
reconstruction where necessary, of many of the existing lights. Of
the eight beacons which were taken over by the Federal Government in
1789, six have been rebuilt. The only two exceptions are the Sandy
Hook light--a stone tower 88 feet high--and Cape Henlopen, at the
entrance to Delaware Bay, both of which were built in 1764. Naturally,
their illuminating apparatus has been remodelled from time to time, in
accordance with the advances in this field of lighthouse engineering,
but that is the only change which has been effected.

[Illustration: A CHURCH AS A LIGHTHOUSE.

A fixed white light, thrown from the tower of St. Philip’s Church, and
visible for 18 miles, forms the rear light of the main channel range in
Charleston Harbour, South Carolina.]

One lighthouse on the Atlantic coast of the United States possesses a
pathetic and romantic interest. It indicates the treacherous shores
around Cape Henry, and mounts sentinel on the headland at the southerly
side of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. The stranger on the
passing ship, as he scans the dreary bench of sand rising from the
water’s edge at this point, has his attention arrested by two gaunt
towers. The foremost is almost lapped by the water; the other is some
distance to the rear, and upon a higher level. “Two lights, and for
what?” is a natural exclamation. But only one tower--that nearer the
waves--throws its glare by night. Its companion behind has passed its
cycle of utility long since, but it has not been demolished because of
its unique history. It was built in 1789 with bricks and stones brought
from England. In shape it is a tapering octagonal cone, and when first
erected the waves almost washed its base. But the sea, which eats
away the rock and soft soil at some parts, casts this débris ashore
here, so that Cape Henry is slowly but surely thrusting its dismal
tongue of sand farther and farther into the Atlantic. The old tower
fulfilled faithful service until the seventies, when, being considered
too far from the water, it was superseded by the shaft rising from
the sand-dunes below. After a century’s service the old light was
extinguished, to permit the fixed white light of the first order in the
new tower to take its place.

The new building, completed in 1881, is likewise octagonal in section,
gradually tapering from the base to the lantern gallery. It is built
upon what is described as the “double-shell principle,” there being two
iron cylinders, one within the other. It is 152 feet in height, and the
powerful white beam has a range of twenty miles, while a red beam is
cast from one side to mark a dangerous shoal. As a powerful flashing
white light of a similar character is shed from a tower on Cape Charles
opposite, the mariner has a well-illumined entrance into Chesapeake Bay.

Ice was one of the great difficulties against which the American
lighthouse builders had to contend, and they laboured valiantly to
mitigate this evil. It caused more damage to their works than wind and
wave of the most terrifying violence. The upper reaches of the great
rivers are encased with thick ice throughout the winter. When the
spring comes round, this brittle armour is broken up, and, caught by
the current, is swept toward the ocean, the floes jostling and crashing
among one another. When the slightest obstruction is offered to their
free movement, the pieces mount one another, forming large hummocks,
and the pressure thus imposed is terrific. The “ice-shove,” when it
assumes large proportions, is quite capable of wreaking widespread
damage.

When the screw-pile lighthouses came into vogue, this danger was
advanced as one of the greatest objections to the adoption of this
idea. It was pointed out that the ice would pack around the slender
legs, and either snap them, or would bring about such severe distortion
as to imperil the safety of the superstructure. When Major Hartman
Bache undertook the erection of the Brandywine Shoal light in Delaware
Bay, he determined to frustrate the effects of this peril. The light,
being eight miles from the ocean, was right in the path of the
ice-shoves of the Potomac, so the nine iron legs upon which the beacon
is supported--eight in a circle and one central--are protected by what
is known as an “ice-breaker.” This is a pier of thirty iron piles,
which likewise are screwed into the sea-bed. Each pile is 23 feet
long by 5 inches in diameter, and they are connected at their heads,
and at a point just above low-water, by what are known as “spider-web
braces.” The result is that, when a shock is inflicted upon one pile,
it is communicated throughout the entire breaker. This system has
proved entirely successful, and has protected the lighthouse within
completely. The main building, although subjected to heavy attacks by
the piled ice, has never been damaged thereby, although subsequently it
became necessary to strengthen the ice-breaker, because the onslaughts
of several winters had left their mark.

Off the coast of Florida, and in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, this
type of lighthouse is very strongly in evidence, as it was found to be
the most suitable for the coral sea-bed. The most notable structure
of this class is the Fowey Rocks light, which rises, a flame-crowned
skeleton, from the extreme northern point of the Florida reefs. It is
in an exposed position, where inclement weather is often experienced.
At this point there is not more than 3 feet of water, and the spot is
as bad as a mariner could wish to avoid, for no ship could hope to
escape destruction once it became entangled in these submerged toils.

The building of this light presented many perplexing difficulties,
the greatest of which was offered by the weather. The structure is
an octagonal pyramid, with the keepers’ quarters on a lower deck,
communication with the lantern being afforded by a winding staircase
encircling a vertical cylinder. The light is 110¼ feet above
high-water, of the fixed type, with red sectors guarding dangerous
shoals in the vicinity, while the white beams can be picked up some
eleven miles away.

The integral parts of this building were prepared by three different
contractors, were fitted together, and the building set up temporarily,
on the mainland, so as to facilitate erection at the site. The work
was started in 1876, the first move being the provision of a platform
about 80 feet square and 12 feet above low-water, from which to conduct
operations. The lower piles were driven about 10 feet into the live
coral reef. Extreme care was observed during this operation, the pile
after every stroke of the driver being tested with a plumb-line, to
make sure that it was being sent home absolutely vertically. If it
diverged, however slightly, from the perpendicular, the error was
corrected immediately. When the piles had been driven to the requisite
depth, the tops were levelled to the height of the most deeply driven
pile; then the horizontal members were placed in position, followed by
the diagonal bracing.

[Illustration: THE BONITA POINT LIGHTHOUSE OFF THE CALIFORNIAN COAST.

While the tower is only 21 feet in height, its position on a lofty
cliff gives the light of 27,000 candle-power a range of 17 miles.]

This task occupied some two months, and then a spell of bad weather
broke over the coast, interspersed with brief intervals of smooth
seas and calms. As the land depot was four miles away, this involved
frequent journeys to and fro for the workmen, who had to be brought
off the work upon the slightest sign of rough weather. To eliminate
the interruptions arising from this procedure, tents were despatched
to the site and pitched on the wooden platform, so that the men might
reside there. At times their situation was alarming; the heavy seas
rushed and tumbled among the piles beneath the crazy perch, and the men
were always on tenterhooks lest a hurricane, such as is experienced
often in this region, should bear down upon them and carry the whole
colony away. When work was in progress, they did not realize their
lonely, perilous position so much, since their minds were otherwise
occupied; but it was the enforced periods of idleness, often lasting
several days on end, which made them grow despondent, as they were
virtually imprisoned, and there was very little space in which to
obtain exercise. The material was brought out in lighters towed by a
steam-launch, on which steam was kept up day and night, because the
material had to be sent out at any moment when the conditions were
favourable. Again, this “standing by” was imperative, in case a sudden
call for assistance should be given by the little isolated community
when faced with disaster during a storm. When the men got the
keepers’ quarters completed, their minds became easier, as they were
now in possession of a more stable camp. The superstructure advanced at
a rapid rate, and the light was shown for the first time on June 15,
1878.

Toil of a different character was associated with the building of
the Race Rock lighthouse, eight miles from New London, Connecticut.
This peril is a submerged ledge off Fisher’s Island Sound, and is of
formidable magnitude, since the ledge is at the mouth of the race,
where the waters, according to the tide, sweep along with great
velocity and force, while in heavy weather the waves get up high and
thunder with awful power. The main ledge bristles with ugly sharp
spurs, some of which rise above the main cluster, known as Race Rock,
which is about 3 feet below mean low-water. The situation of this
lurking danger called for the erection of an efficient beacon, though
not demanding a light of the calibre of Minot’s Ledge, because even in
rough weather the water does not mount in the form of thick curtains of
spray. A smaller and different type of light, therefore, was considered
to be adequate for the purpose.

[Illustration: POINT PINOS LIGHT STATION, CALIFORNIA.

This mariners’ friend has been tended by a woman for the past 30 years.]

Even then, however, erection was not an easy matter by any means.
The velocity of the water and the submerged character of the reef
demanded the aid of divers to prepare the ledge-face and to complete
the foundations. The rock was levelled as much as possible by the aid
of small broken stone and riprap. On this a heavy circular stepped
plinth of solid mass-concrete was laid. This foundation is 9 feet in
thickness, and is disposed in four concentric layers, the lowermost of
which is 60 feet in diameter by 3 feet in thickness. The concrete was
laid in huge hoops of iron, of the desired height and diameter for the
respective layers, to prevent the mass from spreading. When this task
was completed, there was a level platform, as solid as the rock itself,
and projecting 8 inches above mean low-water. On this a conical stone
pier was built to a height of 30 feet, by 57 feet in diameter at the
base. The top was crowned with a projecting coping 55 feet in diameter.
The outer face of this pier is composed of massive blocks of stone
backed with concrete; while in its heart are the spaces for cisterns
and cellars. From one side of this pier stretches a short jetty, to
form a landing-place.

[Illustration: THE FARALLON ROCK AND LIGHT.

The light of 110,000 candle-power is placed on the highest peak of the
rock, 358 feet above the sea.]

[Illustration: THE FARALLON LIGHTHOUSE OFF SAN FRANCISCO.

Owing to the height of the rock, a tower 29 feet high was adequate to
carry the lantern and its equipment.]

The lighthouse comprises a granite dwelling of two floors for the
accommodation of the keepers, from the centre of the front of which
rises a granite tower, square at the base, but round at the top, to
carry the lantern, the light of which, of the fourth order, is 67
feet above mean high-water. The warning is an alternate flash of red
and white, with a ten seconds’ dark interval. For the protection of
the base of the pier, the ledge on all sides is covered with a thick
layer of boulders. The work was commenced in 1872, but, owing to its
difficult character, occupied six years. The Race Rock lost its terrors
for all time when the beam flashed out on the night of New Year’s Day,
1879.

On the Pacific seaboard, while the American lighthouse engineers have
not been so active in regard to engineering work of an impressive
nature, owing to the more slender proportions of the maritime traffic,
they have accomplished some notable triumphs. The Tillamook Rock light,
described in the previous chapter, is the most important, and is to
the Pacific seaboard of the country what the Minot’s Ledge light is
to the Atlantic coast. The majority of the lights on the Pacific are
stationed on the mainland, or contiguous thereto. These beacons are
of more modern construction than those on the Atlantic shore, and in
some instances are very powerful. Pride of place in this respect is
shared between Point Arena and Cape Mendocino. The former, perched on
the cliff-shore of California, has a flashing group of two flashes of
3/8 second in five seconds, with eclipses of 1-1/8 and 4-1/8 seconds
respectively, thrown by its light of 1,000,000 candle-power over the
water for a radius of eighteen miles from a height of 155 feet. Cape
Mendocino light, on the same coastline, has the further distinction
of being the most elevated light on the United States Pacific coast,
the 340,000 candle-power beam being thrown for ten seconds once every
thirty seconds from an elevation of 422 feet. Although the tower
itself is only 20 feet in height, the cliff sheers up for 402 feet.
Consequently the flash may be detected from twenty-eight miles out to
sea in clear weather.

On the other hand, the Point Cabrillo light, a few miles south, whose
flashing ray is of 650,000 candle-power, is picked up from a distance
of only fourteen miles, because the light is but 84 feet above mean
high-water. The Farallon beacon, comprising a tower 29 feet high
planted on the highest point of Farallon Island, off San Francisco,
comes a good second in point of elevation, as the 110,000 candle-power
flash, occurring for ten seconds once in every minute, is projected
from an altitude of 358 feet, and can be discerned twenty-six miles
away. For many years the Point Reyes light held the distinction of
being the loftiest beacon, since its flash of 160,000 candle-power
once every five seconds is shed from an elevation of 294 feet, but is
now relegated to third place in this respect. Taken on the whole, the
lights scattered along the rugged, lonely Pacific seaboard are far
more powerful than their contemporaries guarding busier shipping on
the eastern coast of the country; but whereas the latter are placed
somewhat close together, the former are spaced far apart.

[Illustration: THE PUNTA GORDA LIGHT STATION, CALIFORNIA.

One of the latest built by the United States. Commodious and handsome
buildings are provided for the wardens of this light.]

There are some points which, while being so extremely perilous to
the mariner as to demand the provision of a lighthouse, yet cannot
be guarded at present. The peculiarity of their situations and their
physical characteristics completely defy the ingenuity, skill, and
resource, of the engineer. Cape Hatteras, perhaps, is the most forcible
illustration of this defeat of science by Nature. The sea-bed for miles
off this point is littered with the most treacherous sandbanks, beside
which the Goodwins of Britain appear insignificant. Every seafarer
knows the Diamond Shoals, and gives them a wider berth than any other
danger spot in the seven seas. For some seven and a half miles out
to sea from the prominent headland, the Atlantic, according to its
mood, bubbles, boils, or rolls calmly, over shoals and serried rows
of submerged banks. The currents are wild and frantic; the storms
which rage off this point are difficult to equal in any other part of
the world; and the number of ships which have gone to pieces or have
been abandoned to their fate in these inhospitable stretches of sea is
incalculable.

Time after time the engineers have sought to subjugate this danger,
but without avail. The sea-bed is so soft and absorbing that a firm
foundation for a tower defies discovery. One brilliant attempt was made
to sink a caisson, similar to that employed for the famous Rothersand
light in the River Weser. The mammoth structure was built, and with
extreme difficulty was towed out to the selected site. But the seas
roared against this attempt to deprive them of their prey. They
bore down upon the caisson and smashed it to fragments, causing the
engineers to retire from the scene thoroughly discomfited. When a huge
mass, weighing several hundred tons, could be broken up by the maddened
seas so easily, of what avail were the knowledge and effort of man? The
Diamond Shoals still resist conquest. The only means of warning ships
of their presence is a lightship moored well out beyond the pale of
their sucking embrace.

At the present time the United States Lighthouse Board mounts guard
over 17,695 miles of coastline. This aggregate embraces, not only
the two seaboards of the North American continent, but sections of
the Great Lakes, the Philippines, Alaska, Hawaiian Islands, and the
American Samoan Islands, the total detailed coast or channel line being
no less than 48,881 miles. In order to guide the mariner on his way
through waters over which the Stars and Stripes wave, no less than
12,150 lights of all descriptions are required, demanding the services
of an army of 5,582 men and women; while the cost of maintenance
exceeds £1,200,000, or $6,000,000, per annum. Seeing that the country
levies no tolls for services rendered in this connection, the shipping
community, and humanity in general, owe a deep debt of gratitude to a
powerful nation.

The United States share with Great Britain, Austria, Belgium, Spain,
France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden, the expense of maintaining
a lighthouse which is situate on the property of none of them. This is
a kind of no man’s, and yet it is every man’s, light. The beacon is not
located in an out-of-the-way part of the world, such as the Arctic Sea,
as might be supposed, but mounts guard over one of the busiest marine
thoroughfares of the globe--the western entrance to the Mediterranean.
This unique light is that of Cape Spartel, on the Moroccan coast. While
it was built at the expense of Morocco, the responsibility for its
maintenance was assumed by the foregoing Powers, in accordance with
the convention of March 12, 1867, which has remained in force since.
There is no other light upon the seven seas which has so many Powers
concerned in its welfare and maintenance.



CHAPTER XVI

THE LAMP-POSTS OF THE GREAT LAKES OF NORTH AMERICA


On the North American continent the efficient lighting of the coasts
washed by two salt oceans is only one, although the most important,
concern of the United States and Canadian Governments. In addition each
has a long stretch of rugged, tortuous shore hemming in those capacious
depressions draining a vast tract of country, and known generally as
the Great Lakes. These unsalted seas are rightly named, seeing that
they constitute the largest sheets of fresh water on the inhabited
globe.

The responsibility of safeguarding the navigator as he makes his way
across these wastes is shared equally by the two countries which they
divide, with one exception. This is Lake Michigan, which lies entirely
within the United States. The narrow necks of water which link these
lakes into one long chain likewise are lighted by the two nations.
For some years the Lower Detroit River, connecting Lakes Erie and St.
Clair, was maintained for the most part by the United States, but
the practice was not satisfactory; so, as the result of a conference
between the two Governments, Canada assumed charge of the aids in
certain specified portions of the navigable channel lying entirely in
Canadian waters. The result of this new arrangement has been the better
patrolling of the waterway.

The water-borne commerce on these lakes, although possible for only
half the year, is tremendous, while navigation is extremely difficult
and beset with innumerable dangers.[B] The different means whereby a
ship is handled and maintained on its course upon the salt-water ocean
are not completely applicable in this case. The greater number of the
boats are freighters and engaged in the transport of ore, which, from
its metallic character, is apt to disturb the compass, rendering it
somewhat unreliable. Nor is the lead of much avail in thick weather,
as the lake-bed varies suddenly from comparative shallowness to great
depths. Navigation on these lakes has been likened to coastal traffic,
only with land on both sides of the mariner, and the intervals when
the ship is out of sight of the shoreline are comparatively brief.
Accordingly, the captain picks his way rather by the aid of landmarks,
and the vessels are fitted with a bowsprit, to give the master a point
whereby to judge his direction. But landmarks, however conspicuous and
trustworthy they may be by day and in clear weather, are useless at
night and in fog, to which latter visitation, by the way, these waters
are extremely susceptible.

    [B] For a full description of the marine traffic on the Great
        Lakes, see “The Steamship Conquest of the World,” chapter
        ix., p. 119.

Steamship traffic cannot be carried on with financial success by
daylight and in fair weather only, so it became necessary to distribute
beacons around the indented shores. This procedure was rendered
additionally necessary owing to the formidable character of many of the
dangers besetting navigation, in the form of shoals, projecting ridges,
and submerged reefs, quite as terrifying to the master of a fresh-water
ship as similar dangers on an ocean-swept coast.

At the same time, however, one would not expect to find examples of
lighthouse engineering comparable with the great sea-rock lights
rearing above the ocean, such as the Minot’s Ledge, Dhu-Heartach, or
Bishop’s Rock. On the other hand, the uninitiated might conclude that
buoys and small lights, such as indicate the entrance to harbours,
would fulfil requirements. So they would but for two or three adverse
factors. These lakes are ravaged at times by storms of great violence,
which burst with startling suddenness. Fogs also are of frequent
occurrence, especially in the spring and autumn, often descending
and lifting instantly like a thick blanket of cloud. But the most
implacable enemy is the ice. The engineer can design a tower which will
withstand the most savage onslaughts of wind and wave with comparative
ease, at, relatively speaking, little expense; but the ice introduces
another factor which scarcely can be calculated. The whole of these
lakes are frozen over during the winter to such a thickness as to defy
all efforts to cut a channel, becoming, in fact, as solid as terra
firma.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

A LIGHTHOUSE ON THE GREAT LAKES IN THE GRIP OF WINTER.

This tower marks the Racine Reef in 20 feet of water near the entrance
to Racine Harbour on the west coast of Lake Michigan.]

In the spring this armour cracks and breaks up like glass shattered
with a hammer. It then becomes the sport of the currents, which in
many places sweep and swirl with enormous force round the headlands
and spits projecting into the lake. This action sets the ice moving
in stately majesty, but crushing everything that rears in its way, or
piling and breaking against the obstruction. Ice-shoves, ice-jams,
and ice-runs, are the three forces against which the engineer has to
contend, and at places his efforts are so puny as to be useless. The
ice, if it collects across one of the outlets so as to form a massive
dam reaching to the lake-bed, immediately causes the level of the
lake to rise; and when at last the barrage breaks, then the water is
released in a mad rush.

Lighthouse building on the Great Lakes demands the highest skill,
incalculable ingenuity, and the soundest of design and workmanship.
Consequently, some of the guardian lights distributed around these
shores, such as Spectacle Reef, the Rock of Ages, Colchester, and Red
Rock lighthouses, are striking evidences of the engineer’s handiwork.
Of course, where the land presses in on either hand, transforming
the waterway into a kind of canal, or where the shore is free from
submerged obstructions, the type of lighthouse on either shore follows
the wooden frame dwelling with a low tower, as it is completely
adequate for the purpose.

The one erection, however, which commands the greatest attention is
the Spectacle Reef light, which has been called the Eddystone, or
Minot’s Ledge, of the Lakes. In its way it was quite as bold an
undertaking as either of these far-famed works, and in some respects
was far more difficult to carry out, although the builder was spared
the capriciousness and extreme restlessness of tidal waters. Spectacle
Reef lighthouse rears its tapering head from a particularly dangerous
reef in an awkward corner of Lake Huron, where commences the Strait of
Mackinac, leading to Lake Michigan. The spot is dangerous, because it
is covered by about 7 feet of water; awkward, because it occurs about
ten and a half miles off the nearest land, which is Bois Blanc Island.
The reef in reality comprises two shoals, which lie in such relation
to one another as to suggest a pair of spectacles--hence the name. As
it is exposed to 170 miles of open sea on one side, when these waters
are roused the rollers hammer on the reef with terrible violence, while
at times the currents skirl by at a velocity of two or three miles per
hour, and the ice in its movement grinds, piles, and grates itself upon
the reef in impotent fury. When this ice is forced forward with the
push exerted by the currents, the pressure is tremendous and the force
wellnigh irresistible.

When the lighthouse was projected, it was realized that it would have
to be of massive proportions and provided with adequate measures to
protect it from the assault and battering of the ice. The task was
undertaken by General O. M. Poe, who was engineer-in-chief to General
Sherman on his historic march to the sea. This engineer decided to
take the Minot’s Ledge monolithic structure as his model, seeing
that the latter had withstood the savage onslaughts of the Atlantic.
Fortunately, the foundations were of an excellent character, the reef
being formed of hard limestone.

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson._

BUILDING THE BARRE À BOULARD LIGHT IN THE RIVER ST. LAWRENCE.

Owing to the severity of the ice piling in this waterway, the
structures have to be provided with massive foundations.]

The engineer selected as the site for the tower a point where the
ridge is submerged by 11 feet of water. Seeing that the base was to be
laid under water, obviously it seemed to be an operation for divers;
but General Poe prepared a superior means of getting the subaqueous
foundations laid. He built a cofferdam around the site, and, as the
work would have to be protected from the winter ice, he built another
cofferdam, entirely for protective purposes, outside the former. The
nearest point on the mainland where he could establish a depot was
Scammon’s Harbour, some sixteen miles away, and here everything in
connection with the work was prepared and shipped to the site ready for
placing in position.

The protective work comprised a wooden pier, built up of timbers 12
inches square, 24 feet in height. This structure was divided into a
series of vertical compartments on all four sides, leaving a clear
internal space 48 feet square. The outer compartments or pockets were
filled with stone, to secure solidity and stability. Landing facilities
were provided on this pier, together with quarters for the men engaged
in the construction work.

In the inner space, containing 48 square feet of still water, the
cofferdam, in which the subaqueous work was to be carried out, was
lowered. This structure was cylindrical in form. It was built up
of staves, banded with heavy hoops of iron, so that in reality it
resembled a huge barrel 36 feet across. It was fashioned at the site,
being built while suspended directly over the spot on which it was to
be lowered. When the tub was finished, loosely twisted oakum, 1½ inches
thick, was nailed all round the lower edge, while a flap of heavy
canvas was secured to the outside bottom rim in such a way as to leave
36 inches dangling free. The exact circular shape of the cofferdam was
insured by liberal cross-bracing from a central vertical post, which
constituted the axis of the barrel, corresponding to the vertical axis
of the tower. While this work was in progress, the face of the rock
was cleared of loose boulders, and then the cofferdam was lowered
bodily with extreme care, so that it descended with unerring accuracy
perpendicularly into the water, to come to rest over the desired spot.
As the surface of the reef was very uneven, the cofferdam stopped when
it reached the highest projection under its edge. Then each stave of
the barrel was driven downwards until it came to rest upon the sea-bed,
and, as the oakum rope was forced down likewise, this served to act
as caulking. The outer flap of canvas, when the cofferdam was driven
right home, spread out on all sides, and lay upon the surface of the
reef.

Pumps capable of discharging 5,000 gallons per minute then were set
to work, removing the water from within the cofferdam. The oakum
rope seal prevented the water regaining the internal space under the
bottom edge of the tub, while the canvas assisted in securing absolute
water-tightness, because the outer water-pressure forced it into all
the nooks and crevices.

By these means the workmen were given an absolutely dry space in which
to carry out their erecting work. The face of the reef was cleaned
and levelled off, and the first layer of stones was laid. These were
first fitted temporarily upon a false platform on shore, so that when
they reached the site they could be set at once without finicking. The
bottom layer is 32 feet in diameter, and the tower is solid to a height
of 34 feet above the rock. The stones are each 2 feet in thickness,
and are secured to one another on all sides with wrought-iron bolts,
24 inches long by 2½ inches in diameter; while the tower is anchored
to the rock by cement and bolts 3 feet long, driven through the bottom
course into the real rock beneath, entering the latter to a depth of 21
inches. Liquid cement was driven into the holes so as to fill up all
the remaining interstices, and this now has become as hard as the stone
itself.

The exterior of the tower is the frustum of a cone, and at 80 feet
above the base is 18 feet in diameter. The total height of the masonry
is 93 feet, and the focal plane is brought 97¼ feet above the rock,
or 86¼ feet above the water-level. The tower is provided with five
rooms, each 14 feet in diameter, while the entrance is 23 feet above
the water. The undertaking was commenced in May, 1870, and the light
was shown first in June, 1874. As work had been confined to the summer
months, and a fortnight every spring was devoted to preparations, as
well as an equal period in the autumn to making all fast to withstand
the rigours of winter, the total working period was only some twenty
months.

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson._

COLCHESTER REEF LIGHTHOUSE, LAKE ERIE.

An isolated station maintained by the Canadian Government. It is a
fixed light, visible throughout a circle of 16 miles radius.]

The protection against the ice has proved its value completely. The
ice as it moves becomes crushed against the defence, and then has
its advance impeded by the shoal upon which it grinds and packs, to
form in itself a barrier and ice-breaker against other approaching
ice-fields. This structure was soon submitted to a stern test to prove
its efficacy. In the spring of 1875, when the keepers returned to
the lighthouse--the light, in common with all other beacons guarding
the Great Lakes, is shut down during the winter, when navigation is
closed--they found the tower unapproachable. The ice-shove had jammed,
packed, and been frozen into a solid berg to a height of 30 feet, of
which the tower itself formed the core. The doorway was buried to a
depth of 7 feet, and the keepers had to carve their way with pickaxes
to the entrance.

Owing to the success of the design for the Spectacle Reef lighthouse,
which ranks as a striking engineering achievement, it was adopted for
the Stannard’s Rock tower. This ledge rises from the water 28 feet
from shore, and the plant and tackle which were employed in connection
with the first-named structure were utilized in this undertaking. The
tower is 191 feet in height, and the light can be seen for about twenty
miles. During the past two or three years the United States Government
has erected two other noble lighthouses in Lakes Superior and Michigan.
The first warns all and sundry off a rock having three ugly pinnacles
projecting above the water, and known as the “Rock of Ages.” This
danger stands right in the steamship tracks between Port Arthur and
Duluth, off the western end of Isle Royale. The engineers selected one
of the pinnacles as the base for the tower, decapitating the projection
to 12 inches above mean low-water, so as to secure a sufficiently
large and level plinth. On this bed a cylindrical foundation pier, of
massive proportions and strength so as to withstand the ice action, was
planted, to support a lofty tower in reinforced concrete. The building
has seven floors, one being set aside for housing the two twenty-four
horse-power oil-engines which are used to drive the air-compressors
for the fog-siren. The light is 125 feet above water-level, and
gives a double flash at ten-second intervals, which can be picked up
twenty-one miles away. This tower was erected in a very short time,
the work, commenced in May, 1907, being completed, except for the
installation of the permanent lens, thirteen months later. The optical
apparatus was fixed and the light shown first on September 15, 1910.

The second light has been placed on White Shoal, at the north end
of Lake Michigan, and supersedes a lightship which fulfilled all
requirements for many years. The shoal is exceptionally dangerous, and
the crowded character of the shipping demanded the installation of a
more powerful light and fog-signal. The structure is a striking piece
of work, comprising a steel cylindrical tower, or shell, lined on the
inside with brick and faced externally with terra-cotta--an unusual
material for lighthouse construction. The superstructure is built
upon a massive concrete pier, about 70 feet square, rising 20 feet
above water-level, this being borne in turn upon a heavy stone-filled
timber crib laid on a block-stone foundation, the whole being protected
thoroughly with riprap. The lantern is of the second flashing order,
with the focal plane 125 feet above the lake-level, and the 65,000
candle-power ray is visible twenty-five miles away. The tower is
fitted with a duplicate plant of twenty-four horse-power oil-engines
and air-compressors, operating an eight-inch whistle; and there is
also an electrically-operated submarine bell, the power for which is
generated by an independent oil-engine, the bell being operated from
the engine-room. This station is equipped also with a compressed air
water-supply system and a motor-boat.

[Illustration: THE LATEST DEVELOPMENT IN LIGHTHOUSE ENGINEERING.

Building the hexagonal tower on Caribou Island, Lake Superior, upon the
lines evolved by Lieut.-Col. W. P. Anderson, the chief engineer to the
Canadian Lighthouse Department.]

Owing to the peculiar prevailing conditions, the provision of adequate
beacons upon the Great Lakes is highly expensive. Up to the year
1883 more money had been devoted to the lighting of the shoreline of
Lake Michigan than to the illumination of any ocean or gulf in any
other State in the country. The total expenditure up to the above
year exceeded £470,000, or $2,350,000. The Spectacle Reef light
was considered cheap at £75,000, or $375,000; and the Stannard Rock
lighthouse, owing to the plant and other facilities being available
from the foregoing work, cost £60,000, or $300,000. By the time the
“Rock of Ages” tower threw its light, £27,649, or $138,245, had been
sunk; and the White Shoals lighthouse absorbed £50,000, or $250,000.

The Canadian Government, too, has completed some notable works upon
the Great Lakes during recent years. In Lake Erie, in the fairway of
passing traffic, is a ledge known as Colchester Reef, on the south-east
edge of which a lighthouse, one of the most isolated in Canadian
waters, has been placed. The circular stone pier is built in 14 feet of
water, and the lighthouse, comprising a two-story dwelling and tower,
supports the beacon 60 feet above the lake. The light is a fixed white,
of the third dioptric order, visible throughout a circle of fourteen
miles radius.

At the entrance to Parry Sound, on a convenient site offered by the
solid granite mass of Red Rock, a new lighthouse was constructed in
1911. This was the third beacon placed at this point, the two previous
lights dating from 1870 and 1881 respectively. It is a particularly bad
spot, since the waters of Georgian Bay have a free run, so that the
rock experiences the full hammering of the sea. The beacon comprises a
reinforced concrete building, nearly elliptical in section, supported
upon a heavy stone foundation, which is encased in steel, and which is
12 feet high. The tower has a height of 57 feet, bringing the occulting
flash of twelve seconds, with an eclipse of four seconds, 60 feet above
the water. This station is also equipped with a powerful diaphone. The
keepers of this light experience exciting times, as in a furious gale,
such as the lakes only can produce, the waves frequently crash over the
building.

Another fine light in the stretch of these waters under Canadian
jurisdiction is found about halfway across Lake Superior, where
Caribou Island thrusts its scrub-clothed hump above the water, almost
directly in the path of the vessels running between Sault Ste. Marie
and Sarnia. This magnificent structure, placed on a small islet lying
off the main island, is built in ferro-concrete, in accordance with
Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson’s latest ideas, and was opened for service
in 1912. It is of hexagonal shape, with six flying buttresses, and the
focal plane is brought 99 feet above the water-level, so that the white
flash of half a second may be seen all round from a distance of fifteen
miles.

The steamship lanes across the Great Lakes are now well lighted. Canada
alone maintains over 460 lights of all descriptions throughout its
waters between the eastern extremity of Lake Ontario and the head of
Lake Superior at Port Arthur. The United States authorities watch over
694 attended and unattended aids to navigation in the same seas, of
which total 152 are scattered around the coastline of Lake Michigan.
The mariner in these fresh-water oceans, consequently, has a round
thousand lights to guide him on his way, and the number is being
steadily increased to keep pace with the growth of the traffic, so that
these seas may become regarded as the safest and best protected in the
world.



CHAPTER XVII

THE MOST POWERFUL ELECTRIC LIGHTHOUSES OF THE WORLD


In a previous chapter I have mentioned that, although oil is the most
popular form of illuminant in lighthouse engineering, electricity is
maintained to be preferable, but labours under one heavy disadvantage
which militates against its more general adoption. It is expensive
to install and to maintain. Under these circumstances the system has
been restricted to lights of the most important character, preferably
landfalls or beacons indicating the entrance to a harbour. Thus, we
have the Lizard at the entrance to the English Channel; St. Catherine’s
on the Isle of Wight; the Rothersand at the entrance to the Weser; the
Heligoland flaring over the island of that name; the Isle of May at the
entrance to the Firth of Forth; Cape Héve near Havre; and the Navesink
light on the highlands of the New Jersey coast, to guide the mariner
into New York harbour.

The first attempt to apply electricity to lighthouse illumination
was made in the year 1859, by the Trinity Brethren, on the strong
recommendations of Professor Faraday, who was then scientific adviser
to the British lighthouse authorities. The South Foreland light was
selected for the experiments, and the magneto-electric machine invented
by Professor Holmes, who subsequently perfected the siren, was used.

The installation was built with extreme care, as the imperative
necessity of reliability, owing to the peculiar nature of the
application, was recognized very fully. The large wheels made
eighty-five revolutions per minute, and at this speed produced a very
steady light. On a clear night, owing to the elevation of the cliff
the light was visible for over twenty-seven miles, and could be
descried readily from the upper galleries of the lighthouses on the
opposite French shore. In order to determine the relative value of
electric lighting in comparison with the other methods of illumination
then in vogue, another light emitted by an oil-lamp, with reflectors
characteristic of the period, was burned simultaneously from a point
below the top light, so that passing mariners were able to compare the
two systems of illumination under identical conditions.

The French lighthouse authorities were not dilatory in adopting the
new idea, and electricity was installed in the Cape Héve lighthouse in
1863. The light was brilliant for those times, being approximately of
60,000 candle-power. The French investigators then embarked upon an
elaborate series of experiments, and in 1881 an electric light of about
1,270,000 candle-power was established at the Planier lighthouse, near
Marseilles. The investigations culminated in the great achievement of
M. Bourdelles, who, while engineer-in-chief of the Service des Phares,
designed a new electric installation for the Cape Héve light, of
25,000,000 candle-power.

Meantime British engineers had not been idle. In 1871 Messrs.
Stevenson, the engineers-in-chief to the Commissioners of Northern
Lighthouses, advocated strongly the establishment of an electric light
upon the Scottish coast; but it was not until 1883 that the Board of
Trade sanctioned the sum necessary to complete such an enterprise,
and suggested that the innovation should be made at the Isle of May
lighthouse, as being the most important on the East Scottish coast.

This is one of the historic light-stations of Scotland. Lying in
the Firth of Forth, five miles off the Fifeshire shore, the islet
obstructs a busy marine thoroughfare. For 276 years a light has gleamed
from its summit, the change from the coal fire to Argand lamps with
reflectors having been made by Thomas Smith, the first engineer to
the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, when this body assumed its
control in 1816. Twenty years later it was converted to the dioptric
system, with a first-order fixed light apparatus having a four-wick
burner. This arrangement was in service for half a century, when it
was converted to electricity in conjunction with a dioptric condensing
apparatus.

The electric installation was designed throughout by Messrs. Stevenson,
and it possesses many ingenious and novel features to this day, while
it was the pioneer of modern electric lighting systems as applied to
lighthouse engineering. Although marked improvements have been effected
in electrical engineering and science since its completion, it still
ranks as one of, if not the, most powerful electric lighthouses in the
world. The beacon is a prominent edifice on the summit of the island.
The building is somewhat pretentious, rather resembling a battlemented
castle than a warning for the mariner, the optical apparatus being
housed in a square turret rising above the main part of the building.
When electric illumination was adopted, the existing accommodation for
three keepers was found insufficient, while a generating-station was
necessary. Instead of extending the old building to accommodate the
additional facilities, a second station was built at a low-lying point
near the sea-level. This contains the engine and generating house,
together with quarters for three more keepers and their families. This
decision was made because at this point, 810 feet away and 175 feet
below the lighthouse, there is a small fresh-water loch whence water
is available for the boilers and condensers, while a marked saving in
the cost of handling fuel as well as of the haulage of the building
materials and machinery was feasible. The current is led from the
power-house to the lighthouse by means of overhead copper conductors.

Some difficulty was experienced in securing electrical apparatus
suited to the searching exigencies of lighthouse engineering, and the
designers made one stipulation, which at first appeared to baffle
fulfilment. This was the placing of the positive carbon below, instead
of above, so as to enable the strongest light to be thrown upwards, to
be dealt with by the upper part of the dioptric apparatus, whereby it
could be used more effectively. One firm struggled with this problem
for many months, and then was compelled to admit defeat, as time for
further experimenting was unavailable, since the lighthouse was almost
completed. Accordingly, the designing engineers had to revise their
plans, and had to acquire alternate-current De Meriten machines,
which, although more expensive and less powerful than those originally
intended, yet were, and are still, wonderfully steady in working, while
they had previously proved highly efficient for lighthouse service.
Two generators of this description were secured, and they constituted
the largest that had been made up to this period, each plant weighing
about 4½ tons. Each machine has sixty permanent magnets, disposed in
five sets of twelve each, while each magnet is made up of eight steel
plates. The armature makes 600 revolutions per minute, and develops an
average current of 220 ampères.

The installation is so designed that one-, two-, three-, or
four-fifths, or the whole, of the current can be sent from each unit to
the distributor for transmission to the lantern, or the two machines
may be coupled and the full current from both utilized. The current is
conveyed to the lantern through copper rods 1 inch in diameter, and
this was the first occasion on which such conductors were utilized for
lighthouse work. There are three lamps of a modified Serrin-Berjot
type, one being in service, and the other two held in reserve. By
means of a by-pass, or shunt, a large percentage of the current is
sent direct to the lower carbon, only a sufficient amount to regulate
the carbons being sent through the lamp. The carbons used are about 1½
inches in diameter, though two-inch carbons can be employed when both
machines are running, and the rate of consumption is 1¼ inches, or,
including waste, 2 inches, per hour. The power of the arc thus obtained
with the current fed from one generator is between 12,000 and 16,000
candles. In the event of the electric installation breaking down, a
three-wick paraffin oil lamp is kept in reserve, ready for instant
service, and it can be brought into use within three minutes.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of Messrs. Siemens Bros. & Co., Ltd._

THE ELECTRIC SEARCHLIGHTS OF THE HELIGOLAND LIGHTHOUSE.

On the lower level are three projectors spaced 120 degrees apart. Above
is a fourth searchlight revolving three times as rapidly as those
below.]

The dioptric apparatus, designed by Messrs. Stevenson, and manufactured
by Messrs. Chance Brothers and Co. of Birmingham, is of a novel
character, inasmuch as the condensing principle has been carried to a
pronounced degree. The light characteristic is four brilliant flashes
in quick succession every thirty seconds. The lenticular apparatus
also includes the ingenious idea advocated by Mr. Thomas Stevenson, an
earlier engineer-in-chief to the Northern Commissioners and perhaps the
greatest authority on lighthouse optical engineering, whereby the light
may be dipped during a fog. Thus, in clear weather the strongest part
of the ray may be directed to the horizon, while in thick weather it
can be brought to bear upon a point, say, four or five miles away. The
flashes are produced by a revolving cage of straight vertical prisms,
which enclose the fixed-light apparatus. This cage makes one complete
revolution every minute, the rotary movement being secured through a
train of wheels and a weight, which has a fall of 60 feet in a tube
extending vertically through the centre of the tower, the mechanism
being wound up once an hour by manual effort.

The beam of light obtained by the aid of electricity is of intense
brilliancy and penetration. Its equivalent in candle-power is somewhat
difficult to determine, because the methods of calculation are
somewhat arbitrary and misleading. By their own method of calculation,
the engineers responsible for the installation rate it at 3,000,000
candle-power with one generator in use, and 6,000,000 candle-power when
both are going. This is from 300 to 600 times as intense as the oil
light which was superseded. By another method of calculation the beam
is of 26,000,000 candle-power, while another principle of rating brings
it to upwards of 50,000,000 candle-power. In clear weather the light
has a range of twenty-two miles, being indistinguishable at a greater
distance, owing to the curvature of the earth; but the flashes of
light illuminating the clouds overhead may be picked up forty or fifty
miles away. The total cost of electrifying the Isle of May light
was £15,835, or $79,175; while the annual cost of maintenance is over
£1,000, or $5,000.

The most famous English electric lighthouse is that of St. Catherine’s,
in the Isle of Wight. This point, like the Isle of May, has been a
beacon for centuries. Its creation for this work even antedates its
northern contemporary, because in the fourteenth century a chantry was
built by a benevolent knight on the highest point of St. Catherine’s
Downs, who furthermore provided an endowment for a priest “who should
chant Masses and maintain a burning light at night for the safety of
mariners.” But this protection fell into desuetude.

The station, however, was revived upon the old site in 1785, but it
had to be abandoned, because it was found to be built at too high
an elevation. It was so often enveloped in fog as to be useless, or
at least unreliable, to the seafarer. A new tower, accordingly, was
erected at a lower level, and brought into service in 1840, the warning
rays being thrown from a height of 134 feet above the water. Oil was
used with a burner of six rings, the light being officially known as a
“fixed oil light of the first class,” while the beam was diffused over
an arc of 240 degrees. In the middle eighties the Brethren of Trinity
House decided to bring it up to date, and selected electricity as the
illuminant, at the same time changing the light from the fixed to the
revolving class, with a five-second flash once every thirty seconds.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of Messrs. Siemens Bros. & Co., Ltd._

THE HELIGOLAND LIGHTHOUSE.

One of the most powerful electric beacons in the world. Its maximum
candle-power is 43,000,000.]

The installation is not widely dissimilar from that used at the Isle
of May. It comprises two De Meriten dynamos in duplicate, while the
lamps are of the modified Serrin-Berjot type, using carbons, not of
circular section, but with fluted sides. This shape was introduced by
Sir James Douglass, who contended that the former type did not produce
the requisite candle-like steadiness of the flame so essential to
lighthouse illumination. The dioptric apparatus was of the sixteen
panel type, so that the rays were thrown out in sixteen brilliantly
white horizontal spokes. To one approaching the lighthouse at
night-time, the effect in the sky was somewhat curious. It recalled a
huge and illuminated cart wheel or Catherine wheel, lying flat on its
side, throwing its rays to all points of the compass in a steadily
moving circle. This practice had been borrowed from the French, who
went so far as to introduce a twenty-four panel system, and, as in
France, the St. Catherine’s light, when first brought into service, was
not a complete success. The French considered that, by distributing the
light through as many panels as possible, the question of bringing the
flashes into action at short intervals would be facilitated, ignoring
the fact that by so doing the intensity of each ray was impoverished.
In other words, with the twenty-four panel light each panel only
received and threw out one-twenty-fourth part of the volume of light
emitted by the arc. Similarly, in the St. Catherine’s light only
one-sixteenth part of the light produced was thrown through each panel.
A few years ago the optical system was replaced by an apparatus having
fewer panels. The light thrown from the Isle of Wight pharos, with its
beam exceeding 5,000,000 candle-power, represents a marked advance upon
the oil light which it displaced, and certainly it ranks as the most
brilliant light in the English Channel.

A few years ago another magnificent light was brought into service in
the North Sea by the installation of electricity in the lighthouse
of Heligoland. With characteristic Teuton thoroughness, the Germans
discussed the question of the illuminant for this beacon in all its
bearings, and resolved to introduce the most powerful light possible.
This decision was influenced by the dangerous character of the waters
washing the island, as it is flanked on all sides by highly perilous
ridges and sandbanks, which must become accentuated owing to the heavy
sea-erosion that prevails.

The German authorities investigated the various electrical
installations that had been laid down for lighthouse work, with a view
to discovering the most suitable system, the advantages and defects
of existing electric lights, and how the drawbacks might be overcome
most successfully. Meantime the famous Siemens firm discovered a means
of grinding glass mirrors into parabolic form, and this discovery was
accepted as the solution to the problem.

In this type of mirror the back is silvered. The metallic polished
surface is protected completely from mechanical injury and from all
possibility of tarnishing. The inventors claim that mirrors so prepared
are able to compete successfully with lenses and totally reflecting
prisms--in fact, it was maintained that the silvered glass parabolic
mirror possessed the advantages of greater reflecting power and
enhanced accuracy, with less divergence of the beam of light.

Owing to the perfection of the lenses and prisms system of lighthouse
optics, the introduction of arc lights in conjunction with parabolic
mirrors was received with considerable hesitation. In order to dispel
these doubts, the above-mentioned firm forthwith embarked upon an
elaborate series of comparative tests at Nuremberg to ascertain the
relative value of the two systems, and as a result of these experiments
they concluded that quite as good an effect is obtainable with the arc
and parabolic mirror as with the best examples of any other method.

Accordingly, the authorities decided to install the system in the
Heligoland lighthouse. They stipulated that the intensity of the beam
of light should be at least 30,000,000 candle-power, with a maximum
current of 100 ampères. The duration of the flash was to be one-tenth
of a second, followed by eclipses of five seconds’ duration.

The electrical engineering firm entrusted with the contract fulfilled
these conditions by mounting three searchlights spaced 120 degrees
apart upon a rotating platform. That is to say, each light is projected
outwards from a point equal to a third of the circumference of a
circle. The mirror diameter was settled at 75 centimetres (29½ inches)
and the focal length at 250 millimetres (10 inches), the current being
taken at 34 ampères when the table made four revolutions per minute.

Subsequently a fourth searchlight was introduced into the apparatus,
for the purpose of practical experiments and observations concerning
the duration of the light-flash. This fourth unit was mounted above the
three searchlights, but in the axis itself. It is so disposed that its
flash comes midway between any of the two below, and it is arranged to
rotate three times as quickly as the main group of lights. Accordingly,
the duration of the flash thrown from the fourth searchlight is only
one-third of the flash thrown by the others--that is, one-thirtieth of
a second. This lamp is provided with all the necessary mechanism for
keeping it in steady rotation at the increased speed, and for drawing
current from its feed-cable.

Before the installation was placed in the lighthouse at Heligoland,
it was submitted to searching tests at the Nuremberg works of the
builders. These trials proved that with a current of only 26 ampères
the average intensity was as high as 34,000,000 candle-power, with a
maximum of nearly 40,000,000 candle-power; while with 34 ampères the
average intensity rose to approximately 40,000,000, with a maximum of
nearly 43,000,000 candle-power. Accordingly, the terms of the contract
were fulfilled completely.

The searchlights throw their rays from a massive conical tower, the
focal plane of which is 272 feet above sea-level. In average weather
the rays are visible at a distance of twenty-three nautical miles, and
under the most advantageous weather conditions visibility is limited
only by the curvature of the earth, although on a clear night the
light is seen from Büsun, which is about thirty-five miles away. The
Heligoland electric light ranks as a remarkable development in the
application of electricity to lighthouse illumination, but it never has
been duplicated. The cost of maintenance--about £1,400, or $8,000, per
annum--is an insuperable handicap.

On the other hand, the Hornum electric light, which is the most modern
of its type in Germany, is more economical, although by no means so
powerful. The tower is of cast-steel, and carries two electric lights;
while about half a mile distant is a second tower, which throws a
third electric light. In the main tower, on the ground floor, is
installed the electric generating plant (in duplicate), together with
all accessories, such as switchboards, etc. The floor above is devoted
to housing 100 accumulators, which are charged during the day. This
task can be completed by one generating set in about six hours. A
single charge is sufficient to keep the three lights going for ten or
eleven hours, and the lights are controlled by a simple throw-over
switch. By this arrangement the cost of the maintenance of the light is
reduced very appreciably, as only one keeper is on duty at a time, the
station being equipped with two men, who have proved adequate for the
purpose.

Above the accumulator-room is the storeroom and a general workshop,
followed by a bedroom and above that the service-room. As only one
keeper is on duty at a time, he is provided with ample devices whereby
he can summon his comrade in times of emergency; the generating
machinery is also controllable from this floor. From the service-room
the lower light-room is entered. This is a secondary or back light
in the range, the front light being in the tower half a mile away.
Each of these two light-rooms is fitted with two 150 candle-power
incandescent electric lights, but only one is burned in each set at a
time: the second is a reserve. Should the light in action fail from
any cause, although the keeper is warned of the occurrence, he does
not have to stir a finger to bring the reserve light into service.
The short-circuit produced by the accident to the light automatically
revolves the table upon which the lamps are mounted, swings the reserve
light into focus, and then sets it going.

Above the secondary light in the main tower is the principal beacon,
comprising a brilliant rapidly-flashing light, the characteristic of
which is groups of two flashes alternating with four flashes, the cycle
being completed once in thirty seconds. The optical apparatus has been
devised especially for the “differential arc-light,” as it is called,
with a reflecting lens having a focal distance of 250 millimetres
(10 inches), the lens itself being 1,180 millimetres (approximately
47 inches) in diameter. In front of the lens is placed a disperser,
having a diameter of 1,200 millimetres (48 inches) whereby the ray of
light is dispersed through an arc of 10½ degrees. Before the disperser
is the means for producing the characteristic flash. This comprises a
blind, or shutter, which is opened and closed by mechanism adjusted
to requirements; while the rotating mechanism, instead of being
weight-driven, is actuated by an electric motor.

The “differential arc,” which is utilized in this installation, is
considered by German engineers to be the best system that has yet been
devised for the exacting purposes of lighthouse engineering, and the
description has arisen from the disposition of the carbons. While the
positive carbon is held horizontally, the negative carbon is placed at
an angle of 70 degrees thereto, and only the crater of the positive
carbon is considered for the lighting effect, this being placed in
the focus of the apparatus. The positive carbon is 3/5 inch, and the
negative carbon 2/5 inch, in diameter, although both have a common
length of 19 inches, which is sufficient for nine hours’ service. The
beam emitted is of some 5,000,000 candle-power. This is one of the
cheapest electric stations at present in operation, the annual running
charges averaging less than £300, or $1,500.



CHAPTER XVIII

SOME LIGHTHOUSES IN AUSTRALIAN WATERS


Although the waters washing the Australian continent are not so thickly
intersected with steamship lanes, and the mercantile traffic is not
so dense there as in the seas of the Northern Hemisphere, yet, owing
to the activity in emigration from Great Britain, as well as to the
increasing prosperity of the various rising industries under the
Southern Cross, they are becoming more crowded with each succeeding
year. The efficient lighting of the coasts is an inevitable corollary
of this expansion. Lighthouse engineering, however, is unavoidably
expensive, especially when sea-rocks demand indication.

From time to time severe strictures are passed by European shipping
interests upon the apparent lack of coastal lights in Australasian
waters, and the various Government departments concerned with
this responsibility are often accused of parsimony and neglect.
Unfortunately, the greater number of these critics are apt to consider
the situation through European glasses; to take the countries of the
Old World and the United States as a basis for their arguments, and to
ignore local conditions. It has taken a century or more for Europe and
the United States to develop their respective organizations, and in
the majority of instances there are ample funds from which expenses in
this direction may be met, especially when passing shipping is mulcted
a small sum in light-dues for the purpose. When the shipping is heavy,
these levies are certain to represent in the aggregate a large sum
every year.

From time to time New Zealand has been roundly assailed for its
apparent negligence in the extension of its lighthouse system. It
maintains thirty-four lighthouses and beacons, which represent a
capital outlay of over £200,000, or $1,000,000. The total maintenance
charges average about £16,500, or $82,000, per annum, while the dues
collected from shipping for the maintenance of these aids to navigation
approximate £38,000, or $190,000, per annum. The balance is not
amazing, and certainly is not sufficient to warrant heavy expenditure
towards new lights, as the installation of such warnings nowadays is
highly expensive if they are to conform with modern requirements. If
the demands of the critics were met, and a comprehensive scheme, such
as is advised, were taken in hand, the shipowner would have to pay
to meet the deficiency on the revenue account, and this individual
complains that he is overtaxed already.

Those Australian States which possess what may be described as a normal
coastline--that is, one fairly free from solitary rocks rising from the
sea some distance from land--are fortunate, since the sea-rock light is
notoriously costly. On the other hand, lights placed on the mainland,
even of the most powerful type, may be completed for a small outlay,
relatively speaking.

Such a fortunate condition exists in connection with New South Wales.
Here and there off the mainland are small reefs and ridges, but, taken
on the whole, all these danger spots are adequately covered, so that
the State has not been faced with searching problems of a technical
or financial character in this connection. The State boasts only two
“rock” lighthouses, and these obstructions are large enough to be
called “islands.” The one is South Solitary Island, off the coast north
of Sydney; the other is Montague Island, to the south of the port. On
the other hand, the mainland is very well patrolled, some thirty lights
being scattered between Point Danger and Cape Howe, the respective
northern and southern sea-limits of the country.

Although the light-keepers upon the rocks may consider themselves
somewhat isolated, yet their plight is enviable as compared with that
of some of their comrades in other parts of the world. At Montague
Island the three keepers and their families are housed in comfortable
cottages in close proximity to their ward, and they maintain a small
farm, including a horse, goats, well-stocked gardens, and so forth. The
keepers on South Solitary Island used to be able to vary the monotony
of their daily or nightly round by indulgence in exciting sport. This
assumed the form of rabbit trapping and hunting, as the island was
overrun with these animals. One form of game must have become somewhat
nauseating in time upon the menu of the keepers, but this diversion
is now a thing of the past. A mysterious disease appeared among the
rabbits, and its ravages were so devastating that within a short time
Montague Island knew them no more.

The lighthouses of New South Wales deserve distinction in one
direction. As specimens of architecture they are magnificent pieces
of work, so that what the towers lack in romance they make up in
attractiveness. The most imposing is the Macquarie tower, or Sydney
lighthouse, mounting guard over the harbour. The first beacon was
erected upon this site as far back as 1816, thereby rendering it the
first lighthouse in the State, and it was fitted with an oil light,
while one or two of the English lights were still open coal fires. In
1883 it was decided to modernize the lighting apparatus, so that a more
powerful beam might be thrown. Electricity was the illuminant selected,
the machinery for the generation of the requisite current being
designed for installation in the original tower. But three-quarters
of a century’s exposure to the elements had rendered this building
somewhat too weak to carry the requisite heavy lenses and machinery,
so a new tower was projected. The old light was kept going while its
successor sprang up alongside; when the latter was completed, the
oil light in the famous old tower was extinguished for ever and the
building demolished.

The new lighthouse is a fine structure. At the foot of the tower is a
spacious, well-lighted, and artistic one-floor building housing the
electrical machinery as well as the office. The domiciles for the
keepers and the engineers are placed on either side of the spreading
lawn surrounding the station.

[Illustration: THREE STRIKING GUARDIANS OE THE SHORE OF NEW SOUTH WALES.

1. Green Cape Lighthouse. 2. The sentinel of Sugar Loaf Point, or Seal
Rocks. 3. “Bungaree Norah” station, one of the loneliest on the coast.]

The most southerly light upon the New South Wales coastline is that
at Green Cape, a few miles north of Cape Howe. As at the other
stations, three keepers are maintained, being accommodated, with their
families, in roomy cottages; while a small patch of land is turned to
agricultural advantage, cows, horses, etc., being maintained by the
men. The most easterly light on the Australian continent is at Cape
Byron. This light is perched on a dangerous cliff, which drops almost
vertically into the water 371 feet below; but it is within touch of
civilization, a winding road having been cut down the flank of the
promontory on the land side into the neighbouring town of Byron Bay,
so that the tradesmen’s carts are able to make their rounds up the
cliff to satisfy the varied wants of the wardens of the light. One
of the loneliest lights is that on Norah Head--Bungaree Norah it is
called--and this is also the latest light erected by the State, as
it dates from 1903. Although somewhat out of the way, it is not to
be compared with some of the isolated British, Canadian, and United
States lights, being, in fact, no more inaccessible or lonely than most
localities in the Australian Bush.

Sugar-Loaf Point is one of the most serious danger spots along the
shoreline, but is now well guarded with a fine lighthouse planted on
its summit, the welcome rays of which are visible for many miles out to
sea. The light-keepers here had a surprising discovery one morning in
1910. The _Satara_ fouled the point and was wrecked, though fortunately
her passengers were succoured by passing steamers. On this vessel at
the time of the disaster there was a staghound, and although, when the
rescues were effected, search for the animal was made high and low
on the wreck, no signs of it could be seen. It was given up as lost.
Some days later the lighthouse-keepers ventured to the beach below to
have a look round, and to their astonishment a staghound come bounding
towards them, yelping with joy at the sight of a human face. For a dog
to be in such a lonely spot was a strange circumstance, but at last
it was surmised to be the animal which was missed on the _Satara_.
Apparently the animal clung to the crippled craft for some time, and
then, realizing that the ship was abandoned, dived overboard and swam
ashore. It fraternized with the keepers, and for some time kept them
company at the station.

One of the worst wrecks which have happened upon the shores of New
South Wales was that of the steamer _Ly-ce-moon_. By some inexplicable
means the ship got out of her course on a fine Sunday night, and came
to grief off Green Cape. The lighthouse-keepers at once hurried to
the rescue, the hapless passengers, as they were got ashore, being
tended at the station until they were removed to their homes. The
lighthouse-keepers worked tremendously hard, but they were not entirely
successful. Although by herculean effort they brought a large number of
people to safety, there is a small fenced enclosure in the Bush behind
the station where lie the remains of some fifty persons who lost their
lives in the wreck, and whose bodies were washed ashore.

While New South Wales has a comparatively easy length of coastline to
protect, the neighbouring colony of New Zealand, on the other hand, has
a wild, forbidding, and extensive stretch of shore. Up to the present
the Government has concentrated its energies upon the illumination of
the busiest reaches of water, and has planted prominent outposts at
the respective extreme tips of the twin islands. During the financial
year ending March 31, 1912, sixteen wrecks occurred in these seas,
of which six were total losses. The most ill-famed corner appears
to be the large sweeping indentation at the southern end of North
Island, lying between Cape Egmont and Wellington, particularly in the
vicinity of Wanganui, since this stretch of coast claimed five victims.
Cook’s Strait, which is dangerous to navigators, is well protected,
however, the most prominent beacon being that on Stephens Island, its
group-flashes, occurring every thirty seconds, being particularly
powerful, and having a range of thirty-two miles.

[Illustration: THE CAPE BYRON LIGHTHOUSE, NEW SOUTH WALES.]

[Illustration: THE MACQUARIE LIGHTHOUSE, SOUTH HEAD OF SYDNEY HARBOUR,
NEW SOUTH WALES.

The original tower, erected in 1816, was the first lighthouse built in
the State. In 1882 it made way for the present magnificent station.]

The Marine Department maintains thirty-two coastal lights, of which
twenty-two are on the mainland, and ten situate on islands off the
coast. They are of a varied description, ranging from powerful lights
of the first order to beacons dependent upon dissolved acetylene,
stored in cylinders of sufficient capacity to keep the light gleaming
for sixty days continuously. Some of the places in which the warning
lights are placed are exceedingly lonely and inaccessible, so that the
perfection of the unattended light has solved a complex problem, and
has enabled many terrible stretches of forbidding coast to be well
indicated.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

PAINTING THE TROUBRIDGE LIGHTHOUSE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA.

Keeping the building in repair is one of the lighthouse-keepers’
duties. This is especially urgent in the case of an iron structure.
This tower is 78 feet high, the light being visible for 15 miles.]

The first tower to be brought into service in New Zealand was that
on Pencarrow Head, to indicate the entrance to the inlet in which
Wellington nestles. It shed its rays for the first time on New Year’s
Day, 1859. It is an iron structure, from the top of which a fixed white
light may be picked up by a vessel twenty-seven miles off the coast.
The iron had to be prepared and shaped in England, as there was no
foundry in the islands at that time capable of executing the work. The
building was shipped to New Zealand in sections and erected. To-day,
owing to the growth of the iron industry, the country can supply all
its own needs in this field without difficulty, but in all cases the
lanterns, mechanism, and lenses, have to be acquired in Europe.

As may be imagined, with such a rugged coastline as New Zealand
possesses, some of the stations are terribly lonely and difficult
of access, owing to the treacherous nature of the waters over which
they mount guard. With the exception of the Brothers light, which
is situated on an exposed rock in Cook’s Strait, three keepers are
maintained at each island lighthouse--one as relief--and at the more
isolated mainland lights. Those of the latter stations which are within
easy reach of civilization have only two keepers. The Brothers light,
which is New Zealand’s most lonely station, has four keepers, three on
the rock at one time, while the fourth is ashore. The spell of service
on the rock is three months, followed by one month’s leave. The wives
and families of the men reside at Wellington. The authorities,
however, do not condemn the light-keeper to one station throughout his
whole term of service. He undergoes frequent transference, so that
all may have a turn at good and bad stations. The duration of the
stay at each light averages about three years, so that there is very
little possibility of these patient, long-suffering stalwarts being
condemned to such a period of loneliness as to provoke taciturnity and
melancholia.

The keeper of the lighthouse light in New Zealand is as well provided
for as his colleague in any other part of the world. When he enters
the service, he is placed on probation as assistant keeper for six
months, at an annual salary of £90, or $450. Emerging from this ordeal
satisfactorily, he finds his salary increased at once to £100, or
$500, per annum, rising by increments of £10 every two years, until
it reaches £130, or $650, per annum. It remains at this figure until
he is promoted to the position of head-keeper, which post brings
an annual wage of £140, or $700, rising by biennial increments of
£10 to a maximum annual remuneration of £180, or $900. In addition
to the foregoing scale, a keeper receives an extra annual station
allowance of £10 in the case of third-class stations, which are those
on lonely rocks and islands, and £5 in the case of stations which are
not isolated or difficult of access. All keepers in the service live
rent-free, and are supplied with coal and oil, together with the free
use of sufficient land, if available, to prepare gardens, as well as
grazing for two or three cows and a few sheep, etc.; while their stores
and provisions are carried without charge by the Government steamer
_Hinemoa_. This vessel is retained solely for attending upon the
lighthouses and buoys, and visits every light, save in exceptionally
rough weather, once in three months.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

GREEN POINT LIGHTHOUSE, NATAL.

A well-known South African warning with a range of 23 miles.]

[Illustration: THE PACIFIC OUTPOST OF THE UNITED STATES.

The _San Francisco_ Lightship throws a flashing electric beam of 700
candle-power and is fitted also with the submarine bell.]

At all the isolated and rock stations landing is a hazardous task,
even under the most favourable conditions. The swell and currents
breaking upon the rocks render it impossible for freight and men to be
landed direct from the steamer to the rock. Consequently all the work
has to be carried out by means of surf-boats, and heavy drenchings
from breaking waves, and exciting moments, are unavoidable. At times
the task assumes exceptional difficulty, and is attended with fatal
mishaps. On June 2, 1899, the _Hinemoa_ stood in towards the East
Cape, the most easterly promontory on the islands, on the southern arm
enclosing the Bay of Plenty. The sea looked wicked, but the relieving
ship decided to go ahead with its work. All went well until a heavy
roller suddenly came in and caught one of the boats at a disadvantage.
The craft was capsized before the crew realized their position, and
the chief officer, with three of his men, was drowned. Such is one of
the penalties which have been exacted by the relentless sea, while
courageous men have been engaged in the risky occupation of keeping the
coast lights shining for the guidance of seafarers.

The New Zealand shores have been the scenes of some heartrending
catastrophes. The steamship _Tararua_, of 563 tons register, was making
her way from Dunedin to the Bluff, when she crashed on to the reef
which juts seaward from Waipapapa Point. There was no light to warn
the ship--hence the accident. The vessel, battered by sledge-hammer
seas, broke up very rapidly, and 130 passengers lost their lives. If
the point had been guarded, no accident would have happened. Now a
second-order dioptric flashing light of ten seconds guards the reef,
and may be seen from a distance of thirteen and a half miles. Another
calamity was the loss of the _Huddart Parker_ liner on a danger
spot known as the Three Kings Rock. The fearsome character of this
peril has been recognized for many years past, but, as it is to be
marked by a light suited to the locality, it is hoped that its evil
harvest will come to an end. Yet at the same time it must be pointed
out that the provision of a light does not always prevent a wreck
even in the clearest weather, owing to the weakness of human nature.
This was proved by the steamship _Triumph_, of 1,797 tons register.
She left Auckland on the night of November 29, 1883, picked up the
Tiri-Tiri Island light--this fixed star can be seen from a distance of
twenty-four miles--and yet within two hours of her sailing was wrecked
almost under the lighthouse. In this instance gross negligence was
only too palpable, and the court of inquiry, after its investigation
of the wreck, signified its opinion of the carelessness displayed by
suspending the certificate of the master for three years, and that of
the chief officer for six months.

Apart from Cook’s Strait, the narrow passage between the two islands,
the extreme points of the country are well guarded, the towers for the
most part being located upon the prominent headlands. The southern
extremity of the South Island is a dangerous coast to navigate, since
going east, after the Puysegur Point ten seconds flashing light is
dropped at a distance of nineteen miles from the headland, the vessel’s
course is set to traverse Foveaux Strait, between the mainland and
Stewart Island. In the centre of the neck of water is an ominous
rock, Centre Island, which, however, is well guarded by a first-order
catadioptric fixed light, shining from a wooden tower, the range of
which extends for twenty-two and a half miles, with red arcs marking
the inshore dangers. Overlapping this beacon’s field of patrol is a
light mounted on Dog Island, revolving once in thirty seconds, and
visible for eighteen miles, which in turn meets the Waipapapa light.
Thus the approach to Invercargill is well indicated, and, with the east
coast promontories all protected, the possibility of a repetition of
the _Tararua_ disaster is rendered remote.

On the extreme northern tip of the sister isle, the headland known
as Cape Maria Van Diemen carries a first-order dioptric light,
revolving once a minute, illuminating a circle of sea having a
radius of twenty-four and a half miles. The adjacent headland at the
opposite corner of this spit, North Cape, has not been protected
hitherto; but this deficiency is now being remedied by the erection
of a second-order, incandescent, group-flashing white light, giving
three flashes in quick succession every half-minute. The brilliant
illumination of this part of the coast is imperative, inasmuch as
shipping bound for and from Auckland has to bear round this heavily
indented and rock-strewn coast. The entrance to Auckland harbour in
particular is disconcerting, but the navigator is assisted by the
friendly guardians placed on Cape Brett, Moko Hinou, and Tiri-Tiri,
which have ranges of thirty and a half, twenty-six, and twenty-four
miles, respectively. The task of the mariner, however, is to be further
simplified by the erection of another powerful light on Chicken
Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, which will overlap the Moko Hinou and
Tiri-Tiri lights. When this light and that at North Cape are placed in
commission, the sea between Cape Maria Van Diemen and Auckland will
be very well lighted, and will offer the ship’s master few causes for
complaint. Two other points are being equipped, Castle Point and Cape
Terawhiti, the former with a second-order, incandescent, group-flashing
white light, flashing at intervals of forty-five seconds, with periods
of darkness lasting eight seconds between each group.

While the majority of the New Zealand coastal lights are attended,
certain beacons, from their exposed position, come in the category of
unattended lights, as described elsewhere. These burn acetylene gas,
and are replaced with fresh supplies of dissolved acetylene every
three months by the _Hinemoa_. Simultaneously with the provision of
additional beacons the existing lights are being overhauled and fitted
with modern apparatus, rendering them more reliable, economical, and
of greater power. When the service was established, the Doty burner,
using paraffin-oil, was adopted; but the perfection of the incandescent
oil system, and its many advantages over that in vogue, have influenced
the Government towards its adoption. The transformation will be
completed as soon as practicable, the work being in active progress, as
maintenance expenses are reduced appreciably thereby, because kerosene,
a cheaper oil, is used in lieu of paraffin, while, furthermore, less
oil is burned under the incandescent system.

Before many years have passed, the coasts of New Zealand will be as
adequately protected as is humanly possible by a complete chain of
coastal lights, which is being forged as rapidly as the circumstances
permit. The Government has revised its light-dues in order to meet
the increased expenditure in connection with the lighthouse service.
Vessels arriving from outside the Dominion have to pay oversea
light-dues at the first port of call, and coastal dues at all other
New Zealand ports which they touch; while vessels arriving from the
Chatham, Auckland, Campbell, Antipodes, and Bounty Islands also have to
contribute to the funds.



CHAPTER XIX

THE SIGNPOSTS OF THE SANDBANKS


Although by dint of great effort and the expenditure of considerable
ingenuity the lighthouse engineer has succeeded in erecting a permanent
masonry tower upon a foundation no more substantial than quicksand,
yet the general method of indicating these menaces is by the aid of
a lightship. In this way the estuaries leading to the great ports
of the world, which are littered with ridges, humps, and mounds, of
mud and sand brought down by the river or thrown up by the sea, are
guarded very completely. There is the Nore lightship at the entrance
to the Thames, the Bar and North-West lightships off the mouth of the
Mersey, Fire Island near the portal to New York, and so on. Similarly,
the whereabouts of huge stretches of sand lying off a coast, which
either defy detection altogether or only partially expose themselves
at low-water, and which constitute certain death-traps, are shown. The
most striking illustrations of this application are supplied by the
Goodwin Sands, the submerged sandy plateau lying off the east coast of
England, and by the serried rows of ridges running seven and a half
miles out to sea from Cape Hatteras, the ill-famed headland of North
Carolina.

The utilization of the lightship, however, is not restricted by any
means to marking shoals and sandbanks. Here and there are clusters of
rocks obstructing the ocean highway, which from their extremely exposed
character would offer the engineer a searching and expensive problem to
solve, and which, accordingly, are protected by a floating light. But,
taken on the whole, the lightship is used very sparingly. If it is at
all possible to provide a permanent structure, even at an apparently
prohibitive cost, upon a danger spot, this practice is followed in
preference to the mooring of a light-vessel thereto. A masonry tower is
stationary in its resistance to the assaults of the wildest tempest,
but the lightship swings like a cork at the free end of a chain. At
times it drags its anchors, and thereby unconsciously shifts its
position, so that it may throw its light from some distance beyond the
actual area of danger. Again, a lightship, although not costly in the
first instance, is somewhat expensive to maintain. It cannot withstand
the poundings of the waves and the force of the wind for long without
developing some signs of weakness. It may ride over its reef or shoal
for several years, but depreciation is sure to set in, so that at last
it becomes too decrepit to be trusted. Moreover, the number of men
required to man a lightship exceeds the force necessary to maintain a
lighthouse.

Lightships follow much the same general shape and construction the
whole world over. There is very little opportunity to depart from
well-tried lines; the experience of a century and more has indicated
conclusively the form of hull, as regards both material and shape, best
adapted to the peculiar work which has to be fulfilled. The modern
lightship is essentially a British idea, the first floating beacon
of this description having been built and placed in the mouth of the
Thames as far back as 1713. From this small beginning, which virtually
was an experiment, has grown the large fleet of light-vessels scattered
all over the globe.

The craft is sturdily built, and, although of clumsy appearance,
is capable of withstanding the onslaughts of the fiercest gales.
Internally it is made as snug as possible, but the opportunities in
this direction are not very extensive, as the beacon is built primarily
to protect ships and lives against accident, and comfort is necessarily
made subordinate to reliability, durability, and serviceability.

A mere hulk would be the most apt description as applied to the average
lightship. It is intended to cling to one spot through thick and thin,
and not to move about. In the majority of instances the vessel is
without any propelling or sailing accessories. If it should happen to
break its leashes, it then becomes the sport of the waves, as helpless
as a derelict, until its signals of distress are espied and it is
picked up by a passing vessel. Although every precaution is adopted
to preserve the lightship from this mishap, when the waves become
exceptionally heavy and violent the strongest chains are apt to snap
under the sawing and tugging of the vessel. In one or two instances
lively times have been experienced by the handful of men on board,
especially off the wicked stretches of the American seaboard which is
exposed to the attack of hurricane and cyclone.

[Illustration:

            _Photo, Paul, Penzance._

THE “SEVEN-STONES” LIGHTSHIP.

This vessel, probably occupying the most exposed position around
England, marks a terrible danger spot off the Cornish coast.]

In her helplessness, the light-vessel depends upon the friendly aid
of any craft. The rescuer may be the alert tender, which, having
received intimation that the floating beacon has got adrift, raises
steam in all haste, hurries out, scours the seas for the wanderer,
recovers and rechains her to the danger spot below. Or it may be that
a passing· steamer sights the breakaway, retrieves and restores her to
the allotted position, making her temporarily secure, and reporting her
condition when passing or entering a port.

The lightship may be identified easily. There is nothing inspiring
about her lines. Her ugly hull, built for strength and not beauty,
is painted red, black, or white, according to the colour practice
of the country to which she belongs, while on her sides in huge
letters, stretching almost from water-line to taffrail, is the name
of her station, “Nore,” “Seven Stones,” “Norderney,” “Ruytingen,”
“Fire Island,” or whatever it may be. Nor is this the sole means
of identification. From afar the mariner learns her character and
business by a huge skeleton sphere, a triangular cage, or some other
device, carried at the top of the mast or masts. At night a lantern,
entirely surrounding the mast, and large enough to enable a person
to stand upright within to trim the lamps, throws its warning glare
from an elevation about halfway between the deck and the mast-top with
the intensity of 12,000 or more candles. Oil is the illuminant most
generally employed for the purpose, although in one or two instances
electric light is used.

The specific purpose of the lightship, as already mentioned, is to
warn passing vessels. But the French Government, when they made an
elaborate investigation of their lightship service with a view to its
modernization and elaboration, discovered that at times the floating
signpost fulfils another and unofficial duty. The entrance to St. Malo
Harbour is flanked by an uneven group of rocks lying about midway
between the French coast and the island of Jersey. Though a terrible
spot for mariners, it is one of incalculable value to the sturdy
French and Jersey fishermen, as in the waters around these barriers
rich hauls may be made with the net; indeed, the fishing industry here
affords employment for several score of persons. The French Government
contemplated the withdrawal of the lightship marking the Minquiers, as
these rocks are called, and the substitution in its stead of a number
of powerful automatic buoys which would indicate the exact position
of the most conspicuous dangers, whereas the lightship only indicated
their general whereabouts, compelling mariners to calculate their
distances from the peril, which, by the way, was no easy matter owing
to the short range of the beacon.

[Illustration: THE “SAN FRANCISCO” LIGHTSHIP.

This vessel, riding in 18 fathoms, marks the entrance to the Golden
Gate and San Francisco Bay.]

Before making a decision, the Commission interviewed the French
fishermen to ascertain their views upon the subject. To their intense
surprise, a suggestion which they thought would be received with
unmixed approval was condemned unequivocally. There was not a single
fisherman who could be found to support the buoy system. The unanimity
of the objection aroused suspicions, and further investigation was
made to probe the cause of this unveiled hostility. The answer was
found without effort. The fishermen pushed off in their boats every
night to the grounds, but they did not spend the whole of their time
throwing and hauling their nets. When their luck was in, or they were
satisfied with the catch, one and all pulled for the lightship. There
was not another café within a dozen miles, and fishing is thirsty work.
So the lightship was converted into a nocturnal hostelry. The keepers
charged the glasses, and the captains courageous sipped and quaffed to
a whistling accompaniment, finally indulging in terpsichorean acts on
the lightship’s decks, to give vent to their exuberant spirits. They
did not care whether the light overhead were throwing its yellow beams
over the waters or not. They made merry, and kept up the orgy until the
approaching dawn or the watch showed that it was high time to pull for
the shore with their catches. It was a fortunate circumstance for these
happy-go-lucky spirits that the beacon was not regarded by mariners
as of much utility at night, owing to the feebleness of its light.
If seafarers failed to pick up the Minquiers’s shimmering star, they
attributed the obscurity to the haze. That was all.

This revelation, needless to say, clinched the Commission’s decision.
To-day four unattended gas-buoys mount vigil over these rocks, and the
rollicking days on the floating _café chantant_ are known no more.

The average crew for a lightship numbers some seven men under a captain
and mate, who take it in turns to have charge of the vessel, the second
official being responsible during the former’s spell of leave on shore.
The crew is not a man too many, owing to the several and varied duties
to be performed, especially when the storm-fiend is roused or fog pays
a visit. The arrival of the latter demands the foghorn’s mournful
dirge to penetrate the dense white curtain. Some of the vessels
possess a hooter, the unmusical wail of which in its discordance is
almost sufficient to put false teeth on edge, because a blast runs
through the whole chromatic gamut with variations which would startle
a disciple of Tschaikowsky or Wagner. But discordance in this instance
is of incalculable value. The ear of the captain of a passing vessel
is unconsciously arrested; he can distinguish the sound readily, and
by noting its character can identify the particular light-vessel from
which it proceeds, although he cannot get a glimpse of her form.

The southern coasts of England, owing to the density of the maritime
traffic, especially on both sides of the bottle-neck formed by the
Straits of Dover, are well patrolled by this form of warning which
supplements the lighthouses. Those guarding the dreaded Goodwin Sands
perhaps are the most important. The crew of a vessel in these waters
is busy throughout the day and night even in calm, clear weather, and
the feeling of isolation is not so pronounced, since the continuous
sight of traffic dispels despondency. The Nore light is another station
which encounters very few minutes of rest throughout the complete
revolution of the clock hands; especially is this the case when fog
settles down, rendering the Thames inapproachable, so that incoming
craft have to line up in long queues, ready to dash forward directly
the pall lifts sufficiently for them to see 100 yards ahead.

There have been some exciting incidents among the lights strung
around the south-eastern toe of England. The vessel outside Dover
harbour appears to be particularly unlucky, or to exercise such a
peculiar magnetism upon passing vessels that they must needs embrace
her. This is the peril that a lightship crew dreads more than any
other. Certainly it seems a sorry trick of Fortune that occasionally
the workers in the cause of humanity should be compelled to fight
desperately for their lives from a blow inflicted by the very interests
they strive might and main to protect. The Dover light was sent to the
bottom twice within a very short time, and in each instance the men
were rescued only in the nick of time. On another occasion a relief
lightship was being towed to a station on the east coast, the acting
vessel being much in need of overhaul and repair. The tug laboured
through the North Sea with her charge, and just before daybreak sighted
the twinkling light which was her goal. She eased up, meaning to
stand by with her charge until the beacon’s round of vigilance should
be over, and the light extinguished before the gathering dawn. Her
crew saw the light grow dimmer, until it was no longer of sufficient
power to penetrate the whitening haze. With the sun just creeping
over the horizon the tug weighed anchor, and, heralding her approach
vociferously on the siren, steamed slowly towards the danger spot. To
the surprise of the captain, there came no answering blare. When he
thought he was alongside the light-vessel he stopped, and the haze
lifted. But there was no sign of the light-vessel; she had vanished
completely. The captain of the tug and the master of the relief-boat
wondered what had happened, but without more ado the relief-ship was
moored in position, and the tug returned home empty-handed. There the
crew heard one of those grim stories sometimes related in the service.
The light-keepers had sighted the tug with the relief-vessel, and were
anticipating keenly their return to civilization, when there was a
crash! A cliff of steel reared above them like a knife-edge; a vessel
had blundered into them, cutting their home in two. The next moment
they were shot pell-mell into the water as their craft sank beneath
their feet.

On a calm day, when the lightship is riding quietly at anchor, and
the members of the crew, maybe, are beguiling the tedium by fishing,
a passer-by on a liner is apt to consider the life one of quietness
and enjoyment, albeit monotonous. But contrast this placidity with the
hours of storm. Then the ungainly vessel writhes and twists, saws and
rasps at the chains which hold her prisoner. At one moment, with bow
uplifted, she is on the crest of a spray-enveloped roller; the next
instant she drives her dipping nose into the hissing white and green
valley, meanwhile lurching and staggering wildly as she ships a sea,
first on this side and then on that.

The plight of the lighthouse-keeper in a gale is unenviable, but it is
far and away preferable to that of the lightship crew under similar
circumstances. The tower may bow slightly like a tree before the storm,
and the waves may cause it to shiver at times, but that is the only
movement. On the lightship the crew appear to be tossed, rolled, and
spun, in all directions simultaneously. The deck becomes untenable, but
the men in the performance of their duties have to grope and crawl from
point to point, holding on grimly with both hands when an angry sea
douches them. The spherical ball overhead gyrates in an amazing manner,
as if it were a pendulum bob boxing the compass. The crew have a stiff
struggle, to keep everything below safe and sound, while the waves,
as they come aboard, thump on the deck as if determined to smash it
to splinters, and to drive the whole fabric to the bottom. To be so
unlucky as to be run down by a passing craft under such conditions is
certain death, as there is no hope of rescue in such maddened seas.

The crew of an English ship emerged badly battered from one heavy gale.
Two or three rollers got aboard, and drove their blows well home,
pulverizing the lifeboat on deck, and tearing up stretches of the
bulwarks by the roots. The crew were flung about like shuttlecocks. One
of the hands was making his way cautiously along the deck, trying to
maintain equilibrium upon an alarming incline, when a breaker struck
him from behind. He grabbed the ratlins to secure himself, but his
hand was wrenched away, and he was flung against the mast, where the
wave left him. He was half stunned by the concussion, but a comrade,
realizing his plight, dashed forward while the vessel rolled over
in the other direction, grabbed the prostrate form by the collar of
its coat, and dragged it into the companion-way. The man’s face was
disfigured, and when bathed it was found to have been cut, or rather
burst, open from the eye to the chin by the force of the blow.

Bad weather tends to make the crew despondent at times, inasmuch as its
persistency holds them prisoners, so that they cannot get ashore when
the relief day comes round. During some seasons of the year a delay of
ten or twelve days is not uncommon, owing to the weather, but the men
on the relief tender are so used to hard knocks and rough seas that
they do not wait for an absolute calm to achieve their purpose. Heavy
risks are incurred often in order to lighten the lives of those who
guard the deep by bringing them ashore as near to the scheduled date as
possible.

Another ship that has to mount guard over a dangerous corner of the
coast of England is that which indicates the cluster of rocks lying
between Land’s End and the Scilly Isles, about sixteen miles off the
mainland. For the most part the reef is submerged, but as the water
goes down seven ugly scattered pinnacles thrust themselves into the
air. They are terrible fangs with which to rip out the bottom of a
steamer, and they have accomplished their fell work only too often. The
number of the projections has given its name to the graveyard, which is
known far and wide as the Seven Stones, though the mariner refers to
them simply as The Stones.

It would be difficult to say offhand which has claimed the greater
number of victims from the mercantile marine--the sucking, glue-like
sands of the Goodwins, or the splitting granite teeth of the Seven
Stones; they run a close race for ill-fame. The latter lie right in the
path of vessels rounding the western toe of England, and the sea-bed
on all sides of them is littered with the shivered timbers of wooden
sailing-ships, the splintered iron and steel of steamers, and the bones
of scores of unfortunate passengers and crews. Although a light of
12,000 candle-power strives to warn the seafarer, now and again there
is a miscalculation, and the intimation is conveyed to the mainland:
“Ship and all hands lost.”

It was in 1841, owing to the frequency and severity of the disasters
at this spot, that Trinity House decided to guard it with a lightship.
A lighthouse would be preferable, but there is such small foothold
for the engineer, and the position is so fearfully exposed, that
the erection of a masonry tower would prove a costly and tedious
enterprise. So the only feasible alternative was adopted, and the
vessel is kept abreast of modern developments in this phase of coast
lighting. Lying as it does in a somewhat narrow channel, yet open to
the full roll of the terrible westerly gales, it meets the Atlantic
thundering through this constricted passage with awe-inspiring
violence. It has often suffered greatly from the fury of the sea. Once
a wave tumbled aboard, crashed a man against the pump, knocked him half
senseless; picked up the lifeboat and threw it against the deck-house,
and in so doing caught another member of the crew, mauling his thigh
badly in passing. Two out of the seven men forming the crew were thus
put _hors de combat_ by a single wave. The taut little vessel rides in
40 fathoms of water, about one and a half miles eastward of the danger
spot, as even a lightship must not be moored too closely to a ridge, or
she herself would incur the risk of being pounded to fragments.

The French lighthouse service has a magnificent lightship in the
_Ruytingen_, which rides in 60 feet of water over a treacherous
sandbank outside Dunkirk. It is a steel vessel about 100 feet in
length, and displaces in loaded condition about 387 tons. It is held in
position by massive umbrella-like anchors, weighing some 2 tons, which,
burying themselves in the ground, refuse to drag even under the most
fearful tugs and jerks imposed by a gale, while the chains which hold
the ship in leash are able to give her a run of approximately 1,000
feet.

The German coast is as dangerous to approach, owing to the shoals and
banks, as the eastern shores of England, and one or two magnificent
lightships have been built and stationed over the most notorious
danger areas, among which may be mentioned the _Norderney_ and _Eider_
vessels. The latter is about 133 feet in length by 24 feet wide, and is
fitted with three masts. It throws a fixed white light, which may be
seen on all sides from eight to eleven miles away. This boat is fitted
with every modern device to increase its warning powers and service,
including wireless telegraphy and the submarine bell.

These two latter inventions have improved the serviceability of the
lightship to a vast degree, inasmuch as the ocean liners and many
freighters are equipped with both these useful handmaids to navigation.
The tolling of the bell under water may be heard for several miles, and
conveys intimation of the approach to danger in foggy weather, when the
siren or other fog-signal is somewhat precarious.

The _Norderney_ lightship is probably one of the finest craft in
operation upon the seven seas. Before it was designed the German
engineers carried out a thorough inspection of all the most modern
lightships in service in Europe, and from the results of their
investigations contrived this magnificent aid to navigation. The vessel
is about 150 feet in length, and is built of steel. The light is shown
from a lantern fitted with a third-order pendular lens carried at the
top of a hollow steel mast. The illuminant used is Pintsch’s oil-gas,
with incandescent mantle, the fuel being stored in reservoirs stowed in
the hold of the ship; fresh supplies are brought out by the tender at
periodical intervals. Weight-driven clockwork mechanism is employed to
revolve the lantern. The light is one of the most powerful in European
waters, 50,000 candle-power being emitted with an incandescent gas
mantle having a diameter of 30 millimetres (1¼ inches).

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the Lighthouse Literature Mission._

THE “NORDERNEY” LIGHTSHIP.

One of the finest in the world.]

The vessel is also equipped with 200 horse-power oil-engines, driving
an air-compressor for the operation of the fog-siren, the air being
stored in reservoirs in the hold and maintained at the working
pressure, so that the signal may be brought into service at a moment’s
notice. The vessel is also furnished with a Pintsch submarine bell,
driven by compressed air. When not required, this bell is housed
amidships on the spar-deck, and when the occasion arises for its
service it is lowered into the water through an open tube built in
the ship for this purpose. This important light-vessel carries a full
complement of thirteen men, including the captain, mate, and engineer.
The arrangement is, one-third of the crew on shore-leave at a time; but
this does not apply to the winter months, when the full number has to
remain on board, owing to the duties being more arduous and continuous
during that season of the year.

“Fire Island!” What a thrill the sound of this name sends through the
floating town approaching the New World from Europe. Its effect is
magical among the emigrants who scan the horizon eagerly for the first
glimpse of this outpost of the new home, in which all their hopes
are centred. The sullen red hull of this flush-deck, schooner-rigged
steam-vessel, with her two masts, and name painted in huge white
letters on her flanks, rides in 96 feet of water, nine and three-eighth
miles south of Fire Island lighthouse. A few miles beyond is a similar
craft marking the Nantucket Shoals, whence incoming and outgoing
vessels are reported, while the end of the chain is “No. 87,”
marking the Ambrose Channel off the entrance to New York.

But the light-vessel controlled by the United States which occupies
the most responsible and perilous post is the _Diamond Shoal_, off
Cape Hatteras. It throws its warning rays from a spot about four and
five-eighth miles beyond the most seaward point of this terrible ocean
graveyard, and is thirteen and five-eighth miles distant from Cape
Hatteras light on the mainland. A long way from the actual danger spot,
you say, but the little squad of men who have to maintain the light
through storm and calm will tell you that the situation, in 180 feet of
water, is quite as near as is pleasant when there is the ever-present
danger of anchors being dragged, or of the craft breaking adrift under
the force of the cyclonic disturbances which ravage this sinister
coast. Even in calm weather the relief-boat has many anxious moments,
owing to the swell and currents, while storms rise with startling
suddenness. While the exchange of men is being made and stores are
being transferred, a keen lookout is kept by the relief-boat hands so
as to be ready to cut and run for the open sea the moment the clouds
begin to collect ominously. In these latitudes the weather is placid
one minute; the next the elements are writhing in fury.

[Illustration: THE “FIRE ISLAND” LIGHTSHIP, THE ATLANTIC OUTPOST OF THE
UNITED STATES.

This vessel rides in 96 feet of water, 9¾ miles south of the Fire
Island Lighthouse.]

Probably this is the most dangerous station on the whole seaboard,
and if any heavy trouble is caused by the tempest, the _Diamond
Shoal_ inevitably bears grim evidence of the conflict. The skill of
the engineers is taxed sorely to devise ways and means of keeping the
vessel in the position she is designed to occupy, but moorings and
anchors must be of great weight and strength to stand up against a wind
blowing eighty miles an hour, with the waves running “mountains high”
and repeatedly sweeping the vessel from stem to stern. After every
battle a careful look round has to be made to determine how far the
vessel has shifted. Being steam-driven, this craft is not condemned to
absolute helplessness when her moorings snap. The crew get her under
control and keep her head pointed in the desired direction, so as to
mitigate the battering of the wind and waves, and not moving more than
is essential for safety. Subsequently the vessel crawls back to her
position, the bearings are taken, and she is anchored firmly once more.

One hurricane swept Cape Hatteras, and the lightship received its full
energy. The boat strained and groaned at her chains. Suddenly they
snapped. No steam could hold the boat against the assault. She was
picked up, thrown about like an empty box, and carried inshore, luckily
missing the ridges of sand. Had she plumped into one, it would have
gripped her tightly while the waves pounded her to fragments. The crew
were helpless and could only wonder what the end would be, as they saw
the rugged coastline approach nearer and nearer. When they thought all
was over and that their fate was sealed, a big incoming wave snatched
the lightship, hurried her along on its bosom, and dropped her on the
beach, practically uninjured, and safe from further attack.

When the crew surveyed their position, they found themselves faced with
a difficult proposition. The ship was safe and sound, but on the wrong
side of the shoals, and the question was how to lift her over those
greedy ridges. There was only one method. That was to dig a pit around
her on the beach, let in the water so that she could float, and then to
cut a wide deep trench out to sea so as to regain deep water. It was
feasible, and was attempted. While the pond on the beach was being dug,
a powerful dredger came up, and ploughed its way through the shoals
from deep water to the stranded light-vessel. When the craft was once
more afloat, the dredger carved its way back again, the light-vessel
being taken through the narrow, shallow ditch thus provided, which
was closed up by the running sand as the two boats crept slowly
forward, until at last the shoals were negotiated. The ship was taken
to headquarters, the relief-vessel, which is always kept ready for an
emergency, having taken up her position on the station immediately the
hurricane had blown itself out.

Under these circumstances it will be realized that the maintenance
of the _Diamond Shoal_ light is by no means a sinecure. When these
adversities are aggravated by the relief-boat being unable to fulfil
its scheduled duty, when week after week slips by without the men
receiving the welcome spell ashore, while they are suffering privations
and experiencing the nerve-shattering pangs of isolation and monotony,
it is not surprising that despondency shows signs of getting the upper
hand among the crew. Melancholia is the malady which is feared most
on a light-vessel such as this, and the men have to pull themselves
together to resist its insidious grip. Probably at times there is half
an inclination to desert the light, but fortunately there is little
fear of this temptation succeeding. The axiom “Never abandon the light”
is too deeply rooted; besides, the men are safer where they are,
although it appears a crazy refuge in rough weather.

Prolonged imprisonment on the _Diamond Shoal_ precipitated one mutiny.
The crew on duty were awaiting the arrival of the reserve vessel
to take them home; but the weather disposed otherwise. With that
inexplicable persistence, the wind got round to a rough quarter and
kept there tenaciously, never moderating for a few hours, but just
blowing, blowing, blowing, getting up a nasty sea which made the
lightship reel and tumble, while at intervals a comber came aboard to
flush the decks.

In the course of ten days or so the crew began to fret and fume
at the obstinacy of the elements; when a month slipped by without
bringing any welcome relief, the mate and the engineer incurred the
captain’s dire displeasure by fraternizing and playing cards with
the crew, thereby creating a breach of discipline and etiquette. The
offenders, somewhat overwrought by their continued incarceration,
ignored the captain’s reprimand. This arrant disobedience played
upon his nerves, which similarly were strung up. It did not require
a very big spark to start a conflagration of tempers. The mate and
engineer brooded over the captain’s remarks, and at last they waited
upon him, forcibly ventilated their opinions concerning his lack of
civility and of endeavours to make one and all comfortable under the
trying circumstances, and expressed their determination to tolerate
his overbearing manner no longer. This was the last straw from the
captain’s point of view. Drawing his revolver, he growled that he was
master of the lightship, and that they would have to do as he told
them. There was a tussle, but the firearm was wrenched away from the
master’s hands as being a somewhat too dangerous tool for a man in his
overstrung condition. The crew naturally sided with the officers, and
the captain was kept under surveillance until the relief-vessel came up
some weeks later.

The moment the crew stepped on dry land, every man, with the exception
of the mate, deserted the ship, thoroughly satiated with the
uncertainty pertaining to watching the Diamond Shoals. They indulged
in a hearty carousal, and were arrested. And the captain, who also
was not averse to enjoyment on shore, having lodged the charge of
mutiny, followed their example. An inquiry was held, and the sequel is
interesting. The captain, having deserted his ship upon reaching port,
was dismissed from the service; the mate, who had provoked the captain,
not only was acquitted of the grave charge, but was promoted to the
command of the light-vessel, because there was one outstanding feature
in his favour which negatived everything else--he had stuck to his post.

Life on a lightship, although somewhat strenuous, has its interludes.
In fine weather the men have considerable time on their hands, and
while away the hours in various occupations. Fretwork, mat-making,
carpentering, and other hobbies, are followed with keen enjoyment.
Owing to the light attracting flocks of birds during the migratory
seasons, the men often effect valuable captures on the deck, rare
songsters and other specimens falling exhausted into their hands. Cages
are contrived, and the silence of the living-quarters is relieved by
the piping and trilling of the birds when once they have shaken down to
their captivity. Meteorological work, which is practised in some cases,
relieves the round of toil, while contributions to science are made by
investigating the depths of the sea and its bed with small trawls and
other devices, so as to secure data concerning life in the deep, the
vagaries of currents, submarine temperatures, and so forth.

The lightship, however, is both a safeguard and a menace. When she
is riding quietly at the end of her chains she is an incalculable
boon to the passing mariner, but after a gale the navigator and the
light-keepers are suspicious. The boat may, and indeed probably has,
dragged her anchors somewhat. Now, the seafarer on his chart has the
precise position which the lightship should occupy. Consequently, if
she has shifted and he is unaware of the error, his calculations will
lead him astray. After a tempest the master of a lightship endeavours
to ascertain if his craft has moved, and if he can he takes his
bearings at once. If this is impossible, or if he entertains any doubt
in his mind, he flies a signal, which warns the navigator that the
lightship has moved. Unless the vessel is able to regain her station
under her own steam, she communicates with the shore at once, and a
boat is sent out to reset her. Every time the relief is effected the
officer in charge takes the bearings, so that the lightship may be
truly in the position she is intended to assume, and able to effect her
humane work satisfactorily.

The evolution of the most efficient illuminating apparatus for the
lightship has been a most perplexing problem to the lighthouse
engineer. What is applicable for the masonry tower is not necessarily
adapted to its floating contemporary, since the conditions are so
dissimilar. The United States service has adopted electric lighting
on all its steam-driven vessels, the current being easily obtainable
in this instance. On the whole, however, oil is the most popular form
of illuminant, the burners--there are several lamps arranged in a
ring round the mast--being fitted with two circular wicks, one within
the other; while behind the lamp an ordinary parabolic reflector is
placed in order to increase the intensity of the light produced.
These reflectors are disposed in such a manner around the mast that
the concentrated beam of light from one lamp just overlaps the rays
which are projected similarly from the lamp placed on either side, the
result being that a fixed white light of equal luminosity throughout
the circle is projected. But, unlike the illuminant in the lighthouse,
the light is not stationary in its vertical plane; it is swung from
side to side and up and down in rhythm with the movement of the vessel.
Under these circumstances, at one moment the light would project a
short ray owing to the declination of the beam in relation to the line
of the water, thereby bringing it below the horizon, while the next
moment, when the ship lurched in the opposite direction, the ray of
light would be thrown into the air and above the horizon. The problem
is to keep the light at one steady angle, irrespective of the motion
of the vessel, and this end is achieved by hanging each reflector
upon gimbals, so that the rolling practically is counteracted, the
reflectors maintaining a constant vertical position.

Some lights are of the flashing type, and in this instance the
reflectors are disposed in groups. Here the gimbals, carrying the
reflectors, are mounted upon the framework which revolves around the
mast by clockwork mechanism, and are so arranged as to give any type of
distinguishing flash that may be desired. In the most approved types
of modern lightships, however, the dioptric apparatus is incorporated,
means having been discovered to avoid breakage from the rolling motion
of the ship, while the risk of throwing the beam above or below the
horizon according to the rolling of the boat is overcome. In this case
the lamps and reflectors are disposed on a turntable in the lantern,
with the dioptric apparatus mounted very carefully so as to secure
a true balance upon gimbals. The apparatus for revolving the light
is erected in a deck-house, the weight actuating the mechanism being
permitted to rise and fall in a special tube extending from the bottom
of the ship to the deck. The rotary action thus produced is transmitted
from the deck to the lantern above by means of a vertical shaft and
pinion. While ordinary lamps are installed as a rule in the lanterns,
Messrs. Chance Brothers and Co., the Birmingham lighthouse illuminating
engineers, have succeeded in adapting their incandescent oil-vapour
system, which has proved so eminently successful in lighthouses, to
light-vessels, with a very decided increase in the candle-power, and
marked economy in oil consumption and cost of upkeep.



CHAPTER XX

A FLAMING SENTINEL OF THE MALACCA STRAITS


With the development of commerce between Europe, China, and Japan,
following the awakening of the East, it became imperative to render
the seas approaching these countries far safer to navigation. If one
consults the atlas, and follows the routes taken by the great liners
from Britain and the Continent to the Orient, he will see a rampart
forming the boundary between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.
This is the East Indian Archipelago, and it bristles with dangers of
all descriptions to the mercantile traffic flowing to and fro. After
leaving India, the steamships turn their noses towards Singapore, at
the extremity of the Malay Peninsula; but this busy port is shut in on
the south by the attenuated rocky chain of islands forming the Dutch
East Indies, of which Sumatra and Java are the most important.

The steamship lane lies between Sumatra and the Asian mainland, and
is known as the Straits of Malacca. It is a fearsome neck of water,
studded with islands and sandbanks, some visible above high-water,
others revealed only by the falling tide; while still more never see
daylight at all, yet owing to their shallow position are none the less
perilous.

In order to foster the growth of the sea-traffic with China, these
unattractive waters demanded full illumination, while the rock-girt
shores of China and Japan were similarly in need of protective
outposts. Japan was particularly enterprising in this forward movement.
The country was emerging from the state of suspended civilization in
which it had reposed so calmly for centuries. The rising forces were
not slow to realize that unless they safeguarded steamship traffic
their ports would wait in vain for the ships from Europe. In fact, the
mercantile interests of the Western world bluntly stated that unless
this course were followed their ships would not come to trade.

Japan at that time had not capable men at home for the purpose of
completing the first part of a comprehensive coast-lighting scheme, and
it was acknowledged that years must elapse before the country would be
able to walk alone in this field. Accordingly they sought Britain’s
assistance. The Stevenson family, as narrated already, elaborated a
comprehensive scheme, which was accepted. The structures were prepared
in Britain, sent out piecemeal to Japan together with a force of
competent men, and erected at the desired points.

Upon this foundation the Japanese built up their excellent lighthouse
service. The Eastern pupil, in his own estimation, became as competent
as the Scottish teachers. At all events, Japan has since completed
all works of this description at home and unaided. China followed
suit, but in this instance it was due to British initiative purely and
simply. The British Inspector-General of the Imperial Maritime Customs
took up the question. He appointed an engineer-in-chief, to whom
the construction and repair of the lights were entrusted. The chief
engineer was provided with a coast inspector, upon whom devolved the
responsibility for the personnel and the maintenance of the stations,
he in turn being assisted in his exacting and, at that time, difficult
work by a corps of zealous officers.

Although the countries concerned and the shipping companies of Europe
appreciated this forward policy, one class of individuals resented
this introduction of Western ideas into Oriental life. This was the
population who lived by wrecking and piracy. They recognized the fact
only too well, that, if brilliant beacons were to be permitted to be
erected freely throughout these troublous seas, their despicable but
remunerative calling would cease. Their solution of the problem assumed
a characteristic Chinese and Malay form; they endeavoured to wreak
their revenge upon the lights. Now and again there were sharp tussles
between the engineering staffs and these high-water brigands, but
firearms well handled by the white men invariably got the better of
the argument. Pirates caught in the attempt to tamper with the lights
received very short shrift. One engineer who had seen service in these
waters related to me that in the early days the amount of lead expended
in protecting a light from these marauders exceeded the quantity of
this metal used in the tower itself.

The Malacca Straits, from their exceedingly dangerous nature,
constituted a happy hunting-ground for these gentlemen, and the
lighting of these waters was effected as soon as possible. Among the
innumerable menaces abounding, a shoal some sixteen miles west of the
coastline was particularly harassing to mariners. It became known as
One Fathom Bank, and the shallowest part was only about 18 feet below
the surface at high-water. When these waters were guarded first, a
lightship did duty; but the position is so open, and is so exposed to
the full fury of the monsoon, that she frequently dragged her anchors,
so that the warning became somewhat uncertain.

Accordingly, it was decided to supersede the floating light by a
permanent structure, and a lighthouse on stilts, similar to those
familiar to American waters, was erected in 1874, and emitted a white
flash once a minute. Although this ironwork structure was pounded
mercilessly by the seas, it withstood all assaults completely, and was
only superseded eventually owing to the ever-increasing exigencies of
commerce, which demanded a more powerful and elevated light.

The present tower was commenced in 1907. The engineers appreciated the
fact that they were being called upon to carry out an undertaking in an
especially trying position. The bank is well out to sea, and when the
monsoon is in full blast waves 8 feet in height thunder upon the shoal,
their ferocity varying according to the state of the tide, which rises
and falls a matter of 14 feet. The difficulties attending the building
of the Rothersand and Fourteen Foot Bank lighthouses under closely
similar conditions were not forgotten, and the prospect of building
a huge caisson on the mainland, and then towing it to the site to be
sunk, was by no means attractive, even if the fullest avail were taken
of the spells of calmest weather.

Therefore an alternative method of construction, possessing the
qualities of being simpler, quicker, and less expensive, which was
advanced by a well-known firm of engineers in Singapore, Messrs.
Hargreaves, Riley and Co., upon the designs of Mr. O. P. Thomas,
received the closest consideration. This scheme proposed a lighthouse
constructed on piles, with the focal plane 92½ feet above water-level,
wrought in ferro-concrete.

The project was somewhat novel and daring, because, although this
constructive principle had been adopted previously for stations
upon the mainland, it had never been utilized in connection with
exposed sea-lights. The system recommended was that known as the
Hennebique, which had been employed extensively for buildings,
bridges, sea-defences, and other works. The proposal was investigated
thoroughly by the Hon. A. Murray, M.Inst.C.E., the Colonial Engineer
and Surveyor-General for the Straits Settlements, and, as it met with
his full approval, the work was handed over to the Singapore engineers
to fulfil upon the lines advanced.

The structure comprises the main building, including the
living-quarters, supported upon piles disposed in two rings, an inner
and an outer, about a central pile, the whole being well braced
together. The shape is octagonal in plan. From the roof of the
living-quarters, to which point the outer piles are carried vertically
from the sea-bed, these members rise with an inward rake, forming an
octagonal pyramid, with the lantern and its room below forming the apex.

The underwater work was the most difficult, owing to the situation
and the climatic conditions. Seeing that the nearest land is sixteen
miles distant, it was impossible to carry the men to and from the
scene of their labours every day when the weather permitted. A base
was established on the coast for the preparation of materials and as
a point for shipping all requirements to the site, but the men were
accommodated with special facilities upon the spot. Here a temporary
staging was built on piles, on which platform a large hut was erected
to provide quarters for the men, as well as a workshop.

The piles forming the main support to the building were made 50½ feet
long, and hollow. The concrete, composed of broken granite and Portland
cement, encased a steel skeleton, consisting of four longitudinal round
steel rods, 1¾ inches in diameter, laid at the corners, and laced
together with steel wire 3/16 inch thick. Eight of these piles were
made 18 inches square, while nine were 24 inches square, and each was
fitted with a pointed end to facilitate driving into the sea-bed.

As these piles were prepared on shore, their transference to the site
was a pretty problem in itself. Ordinary methods of transport were
impracticable. The engineer overcame the difficulty in an ingenious
manner. He built up a raft of barrels, twenty-six of which were lashed
together in two rows, between which the pile was laid flat and evenly.
The raft was built upon peculiar lines, so as to facilitate the
unshipping of the pile when it reached its destination. It was divided
into four sections, each of which could be detached without disturbing
the other three parts. The raft and its pile were towed out to sea by
a steamer, and when the work was gained the raft was cast off, to be
floated under the staging and to the exact point where it was to be
set up. A chain sling was lowered from the platform and attached to
the head of the pile, and the lashings to the first section of the
raft were released, thus permitting the strapped barrels concerned to
float away and to be recovered. The pile was then slowly and carefully
hoisted at the head, the second part of the raft being released when
the pile had gained a certain height. This procedure was repeated
until finally, when the last part of the raft was freed, the pile
hung free, as vertically true as a plumb-line, with the pointed foot
resting on the sand. In order to send it truly into the sea-bed, heavy
timber guides were set up, and as the pile descended it was frequently
tested with the plummet, to see that it was sinking in an absolutely
perpendicular manner.

[Illustration: COMPLETING THE ONE FATHOM BANK LIGHTHOUSE IN THE MALACCA
STRAITS.

The keepers live on the lower floors. The upper floor beneath the
lantern is the service room.]

The piles were sunk into the soft sea-bed by means of water-jets,
which, playing about the foot of the pile, burrowed a hole into which
it could move downwards. A depth of 15 feet had been considered
necessary to secure the desired rigidity, and as a rule the pile could
be driven to this depth in about four hours. When the pile-driving
commenced, however, it was found that the sandbank had undergone a
marked change since the surveys were made. Erosion had been very active
owing to the currents having been checked by the obstructions which
the legs of the staging offered. Under these circumstances a novel
experiment was made upon the site. One of the piles was lengthened
by 14½ feet, to be driven to its limits, just to ascertain how far
it would go into the sand. This in itself was a somewhat daring
undertaking, seeing that the tiny colony on the staging did not possess
the facilities which were available on shore for the work. However,
it was accomplished satisfactorily, and when the pile was sunk it
was found to descend another 13½ feet, where it touched hard rock.
This discovery brought about a modification in the plans. As a solid
foundation could be gained at a depth of 28½ feet, and as the piles
could be lengthened successfully upon the site, it was decided to
extend all the piles to a complete length of 64½ feet, and to drive
them down to the hard bottom. When the piles were all lowered, they
were subjected to four blows from a “monkey” weighing 2½ tons, dropped
from a height of 4 feet. But these four final blows only drove the
piles from ¼ to 7/8 inch farther into the sea-bed, whereas, according
to the specification, a margin of 1 inch was allowed for this test.

The diameter of the tower at the base is 40 feet, and heavy bracing
is introduced at a point 4 feet below high-water to hold the fabric
together, and to supply the requisite strength and rigidity. At a
height of 21 feet above this main bracing is the floor of the
superstructure, comprising an octagonal two-floor building, surrounded
by an overhanging gallery, built on the cantilever principle, 5 feet in
width, which forms the landing platform. The two floors have a total
height of 24 feet, and constitute the keepers’ home. The roof is flat,
in order to facilitate the collection and conduct of rain-water into
two ferro-concrete cisterns, each holding 1,000 gallons. The lower
floor is devoted to housing stores, oil, etc., while the upper story
forms the living-quarters. The roof is caused to overhang a distance of
4 feet on all sides, thereby providing a flat surface 44 feet across.
From this point the eight main columns of the building slope inwards,
until, at a height of 30 feet, they have a diameter of 18½ feet, where
the lantern is introduced. The lower part of the latter constitutes the
service-room, and leads directly to the lantern above. Access to the
different levels is afforded by means of a teak-wood staircase, while
that leading from the entrance floor to the water for landing purposes
is hinged, so that it may be accommodated to the condition of the tide.

The lantern, which weighs 17½ tons, is of the modern type, and is
more powerful than that of the 1874 light, which it displaced. The
white light is thrown in groups of flashes every fifteen seconds,
and the warning is visible from the deck of a vessel some fifteen
miles away. The central pier, which carries a great proportion of the
total weight of the tower, and which extends continuously from the
bed-rock foundation to the lantern-room, is solid to the roof of the
living-quarters. Above this point it is hollow, having a bore of 12
inches, and in this space the weight actuating the revolving mechanism
of the light moves up and down.

[Illustration: THE ONE FATHOM BANK LIGHTHOUSE, MALACCA STRAITS, IN
COURSE OF ERECTION.

It is built throughout of ferro-concrete, and is supported on piles
driven into the sand. At the left are the quarters provided for the
lighthouse builders who lived on the spot.]

Although the idea was novel at the time, the complete success of
the work justified the recommendations of the designers as to the
suitability of this form of construction for open-sea lighthouses. In
this instance the enterprise not only was completed for a less sum
than would have been required for a corresponding lighthouse erected
in masonry upon orthodox lines, but the structure is lighter, was
more rapidly built, and is thoroughly hygienic. The complete weight of
the whole tower is less than 1,000 tons; and from the setting of the
first pile to the lighting of the lamps only fourteen months elapsed,
notwithstanding the fact that work was interrupted and hindered
frequently by inclement weather. Any doubts that were entertained
concerning the ability of the structure to resist the attacks of the
wind and seas encountered in these latitudes was dispelled during
erection, because the monsoons which broke during the period of
erection were abnormally heavy, and submitted the fabric to exceptional
strains and stresses, which it withstood with complete success.

Another fine light which has been provided for the benefit of the
navigator in these Eastern seas is that on Gap Rock. This is a rugged,
lofty eminence, rising from the sea, thirty-two miles south of
Hong-Kong. Being exposed on all sides, it is difficult to approach,
while at the same time it lies in the path of vessels. A few years ago
the Hong-Kong Government decided to conquer this islet, and to deprive
it of its perils to shipping. With great effort a landing was effected,
and one of the pinnacles was decapitated and levelled off, to form a
spacious platform for landing. The light itself rises from the highest
point of the rock, and its rays are visible through a circle of twenty
miles radius. The Gap Rock light is also a signal-station, being in
telegraphic communication with Hong-Kong.

Although the days of human hostility to the lighthouse in Eastern
waters have passed, the engineer is confronted by an enemy which is in
every way as destructive. This is the white ant. The ravages of this
insect are so relentless and complete where wood is concerned that
timber towers are quite impracticable. Moreover, this material has to
be used only sparingly for fittings, even in masonry and iron buildings.

A curious experience with this insidious and implacable foe was related
to me by a lighthouse engineer. He was engaged in the erection of a
new beacon at a remote point on the coast. The lenses and lantern
apparatus, as usual, had been ordered in England, and were despatched
to the East carefully packed in substantial tin-lined cases. In order
to secure the utmost protection during transit, each metallic and
lenticular part was wrapped in tow. Care also was bestowed upon the
sealing of the tin case, since the propensity of the ant to discover
the smallest pinhole so as to reach the interior was emphasized upon
the packers. Accordingly the seams were doubly soldered.

In due course the cases with their precious contents reached the site
of erection, but unfortunately the season was so far advanced that the
engineer concluded he could not complete the erection of the lantern
before the monsoon broke. As the contents of the cases were preserved
by the tin armour from climatic attacks, he stored the cases securely,
and with his workmen left the place until favourable weather returned.

Some weeks later the chief and his toilers reappeared upon the scene.
All preparations for setting the optical apparatus were completed.
Imagine the dismay of the engineer when, on opening the case containing
the most important parts of the lantern, he found that it had been
raided by white ants. They had driven their tracks spirally through
the tow, which evidently they had enjoyed, and although this was of
little consequence, the formic acid had played sad havoc with the
bright surfaces of the spindles. In lighthouse engineering the surfaces
of these parts must be as bright and as clean as a mirror to insure
smooth, steady working. But now these spindles were as pitted and
marked as a victim to smallpox. It was a maddening contretemps, since
the only way to restore the vital bright surfaces was to turn them
in the lathe. Such a tool was not available within a hundred or more
miles. Erection had to be delayed, however, until this treatment was
effected.

Seeing that the tin case was soldered up with such infinite care, the
question arises. How did the ants get into it? To the engineer it
seemed an inscrutable puzzle, but he subjected the case to a minute
examination. Finally he solved the problem. At one corner he found
that a nail, while being driven during the process of nailing up the
heavy outer wooden case at the English factory, had turned slightly, so
that its point had punctured the inner metal case. The ants, too, had
discovered this minute breach, and through it had swarmed to the attack
upon the interior.



CHAPTER XXI

UNATTENDED LIGHTHOUSES


During the past fifty years engineering science as applied to
lighthouses has made remarkable advances. This has been due largely
to the indefatigable perseverance and ceaseless labour of the chemist
in regard to illumination. This wonder-worker has given us acetylene,
has evolved means whereby oil-gas may be compressed to a pressure
of several atmospheres with safety, and has discovered other gases
obtainable by inexpensive and simple means. The engineer has not
hesitated to profit from these developments, and has devised highly
ingenious apparatuses whereby these illuminating mediums may be stored
and used, so as to dispense with the human element almost entirely; in
fact, in these instances the latter factor has been reduced to such
a degree that it is only called upon to perform certain perfunctory
operations, such as the recharging of the storage vessels at long
intervals--three, six, or twelve months, according to circumstances.

This combination has provided the lighthouse engineer with a new,
powerful, and efficient means of overcoming abnormal difficulties.
Many a rock, reef, or stretch of uninhabited coastline has demanded
indication, but has defied such protection from motives of cost,
inaccessibility, or searching problems concerning the accommodation and
relief of the keepers. As I have shown in the course of this volume,
the erection of a first-class lighthouse is a costly undertaking,
and the shipping interests, which in the case of Great Britain and
a few other countries are called upon to pay the bill, naturally
demur, unless the rock or other obstacle is situate in the centre
of the marine thoroughfare, or the approach to a pitiless coast is
extremely hazardous, when the erection of the tower becomes absolutely
imperative. If one were to add up the costs of all the great lights
scattered throughout the seven seas, it would be found that several
millions sterling had been sunk in this humane effort, and yet,
relatively speaking, but a small area of danger in the aggregate is
safeguarded.

[Illustration: THE PLATTE FOUGÈRE LIGHTHOUSE UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

This automatic light marks a dangerous reef, off the Guernsey coast,
which is familiar to readers of Victor Hugo’s “Toilers of the Sea.”]

Then the human factor demands consideration. A colony of four or six
men scarcely could be found willing to suffer isolation from the world
at large and to be deprived of intercourse with their fellow-beings in
the interests of shipping, say, through the Straits of Magellan, around
Cape Horn, among the icy fastnesses of the Northern Labrador coast, or
in Hudson Bay. Life in the lighthouses which guard the busy steamship
lanes is monotonous and nerve-shattering enough, but to maroon men
in such remote places as those mentioned above would be to promote a
wholesale rush of inmates for the lunatic asylums.

This is where the chemist and the engineer in collaboration have
triumphed. By their joint efforts it is now possible to supply the
most inhospitable shore with a belt of lights equal in every respect
to those mounting sentinel over the more densely populated reaches of
coast in the civilized parts of the globe. The unattended lighthouse
is a modern development born of necessity, which has proved highly
serviceable, effective, and reliable. The passenger, as he lolls
against the taffrail of the steamer ploughing her way carefully through
the lane 375 miles long separating the mainland of South America from
Tierra del Fuego, and watches the faithful star twinkling upon the top
of a frowning cliff and urging the mariner to keep clear, may cherish
a feeling of pity for the man who has to keep that beam shining. But
his commiseration is misplaced. No human hands touch that beacon,
perhaps, for six months or more at a time. It is a triumph of automatic
operation. The same applies to the wicked shores of New Zealand, the
uninviting northern stretches of the Gulf of Bothnia, the iron-bound
coasts of Norway and Sweden, and many another unattractive mainland and
island.

All the great maritime nations possess several of these silent,
faithful lights, which, although upon their introduction they were
regarded with a certain amount of suspicion, owing to the urgent
necessity of a light never failing in its duty for the guidance of the
seafarer, yet have been proved by the convincing lesson of experience
to be as reliable in every respect as the light which is tended by
human hands.

So far as Great Britain is concerned, the unattended light has been
brought to a high stage of efficiency and utility by the efforts of
Messrs. David and Charles Stevenson, while in other parts of the world
the apparatus and methods perfected by Mr. Gustaf Dalén of Stockholm
are used extensively.

The most interesting example of the Stevenson unattended lighthouse is
provided in the English Channel, indicating the entrance to the strait
which leads to the Guernsey capital of St. Peter Port. This was one of
the first of its character to be erected, but the type is now being
adopted widely owing to the success of this initial undertaking. The
Channel Islands have achieved an unsavoury reputation in marine annals,
as they form a graveyard of the Channel; they have claimed their
victims, during recent years at any rate, mostly from the ranks of the
heavy cross-Channel traffic.

[Illustration: THE PLATTE FOUGÈRE LIGHTHOUSE.

This beacon, designed by Messrs. D. and C. Stevenson, probably is the
finest unattended lighthouse in existence. On the top of the tower is
the automatically controlled acetylene light.]

The Russell Channel, leading to St. Peter Port from the north, is
exceedingly dangerous, the sea being littered with granite rocks both
submerged and exposed, of which the Grande Braye, Barsier, and Platte
Fougère, form the outer rampart. Readers of Victor Hugo may gather some
realistic idea of the perilous nature of these waters by perusing “The
Toilers of the Sea,” in which these rocks figure very prominently,
particularly the Platte Fougère. The menace of this corner of the
channel is accentuated by the velocity of the tidal currents which
swing and swirl round the reefs, together with the extreme range of
the tides, which averages about 30 feet. Formerly, in thick weather,
vessels found it almost impossible to pick up the Russell, and often
a captain, by the rip and crash of metal being torn, to his dismay
learned that he had swung too far to the westward.

[Illustration: SETTING THE COMPRESSED-AIR RESERVOIR AT FORT DOYLE.

The Platte Fougère automatic light is supplemented by a land station on
the island of Guernsey a mile away.]

The companies engaged in this traffic repeatedly petitioned the
authorities to mark the entrance to the strait by some adequate means.
A light was not required so keenly as a sound-signal, because in clear
weather navigation was tolerably safe. The proposal was discussed
time after time, but no solution appeared to be forthcoming. To erect
a lighthouse on the outer fringe of the barrier would have entailed
prodigious expenditure, which the island authorities could ill afford,
even if such a scheme were practicable.

The question was taken up boldly by General Campbell during his
occupation of the post of Governor-General of the Island of
Guernsey, and he pressed forward the scheme vigorously in a resolute
determination to bring about a diminution in the number of maritime
disasters at this point. He approached Messrs. David and Charles
Stevenson, who had considerable experience of similar conditions
around the Scottish coasts, and they, after an elaborate survey of the
site, recommended the erection of a light and fog-signal station upon
the Platte Fougère, which should be controlled from the land a mile
distant. They agreed that the erection of a tower similar to those
generally planted on sea-rocks would be a formidable undertaking and
enormously expensive, owing to the conditions prevailing, but the
station they suggested was quite practicable, and would serve the
purposes equally well.

Instead of a massive, gracefully-curving tower, measuring some 40
feet in diameter at the base, these engineers suggested a building of
irregular octagonal shape, measuring 14½ and 17 feet across the faces,
80 feet in height, and carried out in ferro-concrete. They advocated
its erection upon the Platte Fougère, because there the fog-signal
would be brought into the most serviceable position for shipping. A
narrow or thin building was advised, to offer the minimum of surface
to the waves, which break very heavily on these ridges. The wisdom of
this design has been revealed very convincingly since the tower has
been in service. The seas fall on either side, divide and rush round
the building, so that it does not experience the full brunt of their
heavy, smashing blows. As the engineers pointed out, “It is better to
avoid heavy sea pressures, where feasible, in preference to courting
them.”

Still, the Platte Fougère was not an ideal rock from the engineers’
point of view, although it is a solid knot of granite. Its head is
visible only at low-water spring-tides, while it is difficult to
approach, even in the smoothest weather, owing to the tides and
currents. Much of the foundation work had to be carried out under
water. The season was unavoidably limited, as the days when both the
wind and the sea are calm in this part of the channel are very few and
far between.

The tower is solid for a height of 46 feet above the rock, and the base
is formed of Portland cement placed in iron moulds, with iron bars
driven into the solid rock to anchor the concrete firmly. On the side
to which the building is exposed to the heaviest seas, massive beams
of rolled steel are driven into the rock, so as to impart additional
strength to the part of the tower where the greatest strains are likely
to be set up.

On the entrance level is a compartment containing an electric motor and
air-compressor, while on the floor immediately above is a duplicate
installation. The siren projects through the top of the tower, the
trumpet being so turned as to throw the sounds in a horizontal
direction over the water. On the top of the tower is a small automatic
acetylene gas plant and light, such as the engineers have employed
so successfully in their unattended Scottish light-stations, two
air-receivers, and a water-tank. A new type of burner is used, and a
clockwork mechanism is incorporated to extinguish the light at dawn and
to ignite it at dusk, with a special arrangement to allow for the short
summer nights and the long periods of darkness during the winter.

[Illustration: THE FORT DOYLE SIREN.

This installation on the island is maintained so as to take the place
of the automatic lighthouse a mile out to sea, in the remote event of
the latter breaking down.]

As mentioned above, the station is controlled electrically from a point
on shore. In deciding the latter, it was necessary to discover the most
favourable landing-place for the submarine cable in relation to its
route, and Doyle Fort was selected as meeting all requirements in this
direction. Here a two-floor dwelling has been erected for the keepers,
together with an adjoining engine-house, which measures 32 feet in
length by 20 feet wide. The tower being a mile distant, the designers
had to meet the possibility of the machinery therein breaking down.
Accordingly, at the shore station there is an auxiliary fog-siren and
air-compressing plant, which is brought into use when the sea apparatus
is deranged.

[Illustration:

            _By courtesy of Messrs. D. and C. Stevenson._

AN UNATTENDED BEACON LIGHT PLACED UPON A WILD PART OF THE SCOTTISH
COAST.

These lights will run for several months without any human attention,
and, by means of ingenious mechanism, light and extinguish themselves
automatically.]

The machinery includes two oil-engines which drive three-phase
alternators, and an air-compressor for working the land siren when
required. One of the greatest difficulties arose in connection with the
submarine cable which connects the land-station with the sea-tower.
Owing to the broken, rocky nature of the sea-bed, the viciousness of
the currents, and the heavy seas, the cable had to be of exceptional
strength; indeed, it had to be made specially for the purpose. It is
a double-sheathed, steel-armoured cable of the heaviest “rock” type,
being 11 inches in circumference, and weighing 45 tons per nautical
mile. As the current used is three-phase, there are three conductors,
which weigh 1,100 pounds per mile, protected by a thick layer of
gutta-percha averaging 450 pounds per mile. In the centre of the core
are two other wires for switching and telephone purposes respectively.
The laying of the cable was a peculiar and exacting task in itself;
6,504 feet had to be paid out. But by waiting for a very calm day
and slack water this task was achieved without mishap. In the tower
there is a simple switch operated by an electro-magnet, whereby the
motor-driven air-compressors are thrown in and out of action. The
two compressors are used alternately, so as to keep them in thorough
working order; and as they have to be left sometimes for months without
being examined, special attention has been devoted to their lubrication.

A visit to this lighthouse is a somewhat curious experience. Climbing
the ladder and entering the building, one finds it apparently
abandoned. Not a sound beyond the murmuring of the waves playing about
the rocks below disturbs a silence which is uncannily tense. Suddenly
there is an almost imperceptible click. The keeper at the light-station
has moved his switch, and simultaneously that in the tower has
closed. The electric motors instantly commence to revolve, with a low
grunt at first, but rising quickly to a loud humming as they settle
down to their stride, driving the air-compressors. Then comes the
ear-splitting, deep-toned roar from the siren overhead, attended by
the whirr of machinery in motion. The humming of the motors and the
compressors dies down, and in a few seconds absolute stillness prevails
once more. The sensation is decidedly eerie. It seems impossible that a
silence so intense as to be felt should be interrupted by a click--the
result of a slight movement by an unseen hand a mile away--which gives
forth such a nerve-shattering din as to convey the idea that Bedlam
had been let loose. At the land-station the experience is similarly
weird. The keeper moves his switch which brings the tower machinery
into action. Presently there is the sharp tinkle of an electric bell.
This notifies the keeper that the blast on the tower has been given,
but conclusive evidence of this fact does not arrive until five seconds
later, when the baying of the siren comes rolling over the water.

A complete check is kept upon the isolated station out at sea. If the
electric bell does not ring out at the appointed period, to notify
the keeper that the siren has emitted its warning note, he knows that
something is amiss. The land-station is brought into service without
delay, the intimation to the mariner to stand clear being thrown from
Doyle Fort once every ninety seconds. The men on shore take it in turns
to mount watch for fog both day and night, and their vigil is checked.
There is an electric alarm, which maintains silence only so long as the
man on duty fulfils his appointed task and records this fact upon his
mechanical register at scheduled intervals. Should he fail to perform
this function, there is a frenzied clanging by the alarm-bell, which
summons the second keeper to duty.

[Illustration: THE GASFETEN LIGHT: A LONELY BEACON IN SWEDISH WATERS.

This was the first tower to be fitted with the Dalén “sun-valve” in
conjunction with the Dalén flasher. Several automatic lights of this
type are used to show the way through the Panama Canal.]

Apparently, the weakest point in the installation is the submarine
cable, but the engineers entertain no apprehensions on this score. It
is too stoutly made and too heavily armoured to rupture very readily.
Experience has proved its efficiency and reliability, while a long
life is anticipated for it. The Platte Fougère unattended lighthouse
has opened up new possibilities for protecting wild coasts. It has
proved conclusively that there is no difficulty in maintaining such
a station and controlling it from a distance so long as automatic
apparatus which has proved its worth is employed. This practical
application should serve to solve many peculiar problems. No longer can
the bogie of expense be put forward as an argument against safeguarding
a notoriously evil length of shoreline or isolated rock, even if the
latter is exposed to the heaviest seas known. The Guernsey installation
was completed for £8,500, or $42,500, and is as serviceable as the
ordinary type of tower, which in this instance would have cost at least
£60,000, or $300,000, to build and equip. From the maintenance point
of view it is equally convincing and economical, inasmuch as only two
keepers are required in the place of the four who otherwise would have
been necessary.

[Illustration: THE DALÉN “SUN-VALVE,” THE MOST WONDERFUL INVENTION OF
MODERN LIGHTHOUSE ENGINEERING.

Depending upon the action of daylight alone, it automatically ignites
and extinguishes the light at dusk and dawn respectively.]

The system which has been devised by Mr. Gustaf Dalén of Stockholm,
and which is exploited by the Gas Accumulator Company of the Swedish
capital, operates with dissolved acetylene. The first light in
Scandinavian waters to be brought into action upon the “Aga” principle,
as it is called, was installed in the Gasfeten tower, an exceedingly
isolated beacon which offered every means of testing it thoroughly.
The idea follows the broad lines of that adopted in connection
with lightships, and, the Gasfeten experiments proving completely
successful, it has been adopted extensively since, not only by the
Swedish authorities for the lighting of lonely waters in the Baltic
Sea and Gulf of Bothnia, but by various other Powers. The Straits of
Magellan are protected in this way, and when one recalls the sparse
population which dwells upon the banks of this short-cut between the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and bears in mind the fact that the lights
have to be left to their own automatic action for some months on end,
then one may realize the perfection and reliability of the invention.
The failure of a light in such treacherous waters would be notified
speedily to the authorities responsible for the illumination of this
sea-lane, but no such complaints appear to have been received from
passing vessels. These lonely lights for the most part are of a very
simple character, a result due to local conditions. As a rule they are
planted on lofty eminences--not at too high an elevation, as thereby
they might be rendered useless by headland fogs--at a height varying
between 150 and 250 feet. The base of the tower forms a space for the
accommodation of the gas-accumulators, wherein the illuminating medium
is stored under pressure, surmounted by the lantern which carries the
requisite optical apparatus, and the flasher whereby the characteristic
visual warning is given.

Although adoption of the flasher enabled the consumption of gas to
be reduced very appreciably, there was one noticeable drawback: the
light had to burn both night and day, unless clockwork mechanism were
introduced to extinguish the light at sunrise and to ignite it at
twilight. Some authorities, however, do not place trust in clockwork
mechanism. Certainly it is liable to fail at a critical moment, and in
the case of an isolated light, several hundred miles from the nearest
base, this would be a serious calamity, intimation of the fact not
being available until several weeks after the disability had been
observed.

In order to overcome the fallibility of clockwork, and to insure a
still further marked decrease in the consumption of gas, Mr. Gustaf
Dalén devoted his energies to the perfection of a device which
should achieve the self-same end, but be operated by Nature herself.
His efforts were crowned with complete success by the invention of
the “light-valve,” but which has become more widely known as the
“sun-valve.”

[Illustration: THE GAS ACCUMULATORS EMPLOYED IN THE DALÉN AUTOMATIC
SYSTEM.

The size of the storage cylinder varies according to the work,
character, and position of the beacon.]

This device is based upon a well-known principle. If two objects,
fashioned from the same metal, and identical in every respect except
that one is made light-absorbing and the other light-reflecting, are
exposed to daylight, while the former will expand, the latter will
remain unaffected. This result is due to the fact that the one which
absorbs light transforms it into energy. The acting part of the
“sun-valve” therefore is a light-absorber. It consists of a central
rod, the surface of which is coated with lampblack, so that its
light-absorbing qualities are enhanced as much as possible. The lower
part of this rod is connected to a small lever, which opens and shuts
an orifice through which the gas passes to the flasher in the lantern
above. Around this central black copper rod are three other copper
rods, disposed equidistantly. They resemble the former in every respect
except that they have no light-absorbing qualities, but they are given
polished gold surfaces, so that their light-reflecting properties are
raised to the maximum.

This sun-valve is exposed. At the break of dawn, under the gathering
intensity of daylight, the central black rod absorbs the luminosity,
the amount of which is increased by the light thrown from the
gold-burnished outer rods, and, converting it into energy, expands
longitudinally. In so doing it forces the lever at the base downwards,
closing the opening through which the gas flows to the flasher. In a
short while, when the day has broken fairly and there is no further
need for the beacon’s services, the gas-feed is cut off entirely, only
the pilot burner remaining alight, the gas-supply to this not being
affected by the sun-valve. In order to bring the greatest possible
pressure upon the lever, the blackened rod is so arranged that it can
expand only in one direction--namely, downwards.

Upon the approach of evening, owing to the daylight becoming weaker,
the blackened rod contracts, and, the pressure upon the lever being
released, the gas commences to flow once more to the burner. It is a
small stream at first, but as the darkness gathers, and the shrinking
continues, the valve opens wider and wider, until at last, when night
has settled down and the copper central rod has fully contracted, the
gas-valve is opened to its fullest extent, permitting the greatest
pressure of gas to flow to the burner, so that the beacon throws its
most brilliant light. This automatic action continues infallibly every
dawn and dusk, and is the simplest and at the same time most reliable
means of economizing gas during the day that has yet been devised.

There is another feature of this system which must not be overlooked.
Suppose, for some reason or other, that the sea becomes shrouded in
suffused light, such as might arise from the obscuring of the sun by
an overhanging bank of fog or smoke, the beacon comes automatically
into service, as the cutting off of the daylight must bring about a
contraction of the blackened copper rod controlling the valve.

The central rod can be adjusted to any degree of sensitiveness, by
means of a screw, while protection of the vital parts is insured by
enclosure within a heavy glass cylinder. The first apparatus of this
character was tested by the Swedish authorities in 1907, and proved
so successful that it is now in service at all the exposed unattended
lighthouses in Swedish and Finnish waters; while it has been adopted,
also, very extensively by the United States, more particularly for the
lighting of the lonely stretches of the Alaskan coastline and of the
Panama Canal.

Of course, the saving of gas which is rendered possible by the use of
the sun-valve varies according to the season of the year. During the
winter, when the nights are long, the saving may not be very marked,
but in the summer, when darkness does not last more than four or five
hours, the economy is very noticeable. According to the experience of
the Swedish authorities, the average saving of gas during the year
varies from 35 to 40 per cent., as compared with similar lights not
fitted with this device.

But there is another factor which is influenced to a very appreciable
degree by the utilization of the sun-valve. By cutting off the light
when it is not required, the capacity of--_i.e._, the duration of
service upon--one charge is lengthened, and this in the case of an
isolated light is a very important consideration. In fact, with the
“Aga” system wherein the sun-valve is combined with the flasher, it is
possible for the light to work a round twelve months without the least
control or necessity for intermediate inspection, and at as low an
annual charge as £2 15s., or about $14.

[Illustration: THE LAGERHOLMEN LIGHTHOUSE.

It marks a lonely dangerous rock in the Baltic Sea, and operates
upon the Aga unattended automatic system, with Dalén flasher and
“sun-valve.”]

One of the latest unattended installations which have been carried out
upon these lines is the Lagerholmen lighthouse, marking a dangerous
rock in the Baltic Sea. It is a cylindrical tower, with the focal
plane 56 feet 4 inches above sea-level, and the flashing light, with
sun-valve control, has a range of eighteen miles. The geographical
range, however, is only thirteen miles, owing to the comparatively low
height of the tower.

An interesting and ingenious automatic unattended light has also been
established in an isolated part of the Bristol Channel. It was designed
by Sir Thomas Matthews, the engineer to the Brethren of Trinity House.
This is purely and simply a clockwork-controlled apparatus in which
extreme care has been taken to eliminate the disadvantages incidental
to such mechanism. This type of light was designed to fulfil three
conditions--to give a flashing light; to light up and go out at
the proper times; and to require attention only at long intervals.
Acetylene is the illuminant used, the gas being stored in a reservoir
under high pressure. The gas as it emerges from the supply cylinder is
expanded, so that the pressure at the burner does not exceed 2 pounds
per square inch.

The outstanding feature of this apparatus is that the clockwork
control cutting off and turning on the gas does not require to be
wound by hand, but is actuated by the mechanism which revolves the
lenses, through a simple set of gearing. The gas as it issues from the
reservoir passes into one of two cylinders. Each of these is provided
with an inlet and an exhaust valve, while the upper end is closed
with a lid of leather, covering the top like the vellum of a drum.
To each leather cover is attached a circular piece of metal, smaller
than the leather diaphragm, and from this in turn extends a vertical
rod, the upper end of which is connected to one end of a centrally
pivoted rocking arm. When the gas enters one cylinder, naturally in
expanding it forces the leather lid upwards, and with it the vertical
rod. This elevates the corresponding end of the rocking arm, and
simultaneously drives down the rod attached to the opposite end
of the beam, which in turn drives down the leather lid of the second
cylinder, and forces out any gas that may be therein. The apparatus
consequently is something like a double pump, owing to the rocking arm
having a seesaw motion. This reciprocating action serves to wind up
the clock, and also to revolve the lenses through spurs and pinions.
The mechanism, however, is controlled completely by the clock whereby
the light is started, inasmuch as without this the apparatus cannot
be set in motion. There are two dials, one of which is divided into
twenty-four divisions, corresponding to the hours of the day, and the
other into twelve divisions, representing the twelve months of the
year. The clocks work together, and the time of lighting up is advanced
or retarded, according to the time of the year, through the clock train
wheels.

The apparatus is very compact, highly ingenious, and has proved
efficient in service. Although this is the first application of the
idea for rotating the lenses by the gas which feeds the burners,
so far as England is concerned, it has been employed under similar
circumstances in Germany with conspicuous success, in combination
with the Pintsch oil-gas apparatuses, but it lacks the simplicity and
reliability of the sun-valve.

[Illustration: AN UNATTENDED BEACON LIGHTING THE STRAITS OF MAGELLAN.

This warning, fitted with Dalén flasher and sun-valve, is visited once
in six months.]

[Illustration: AN AUTOMATIC LIGHT-BOAT.

This novel warning was constructed for installation at the mouth of a
Swedish river owing to the extreme velocity of the current. Such a boat
may be left unvisited for a year if desired.]

A different system, which has been adopted widely throughout the
East and in Australian waters, is the Wigham petroleum beacon. This
system possesses many notable features, the most important being
that well-refined petroleum oil is employed. In many parts of the
world carbide of calcium is not readily obtainable, and, moreover, is
somewhat expensive, whereas, on the other hand, oil is comparatively
cheap and available in unlimited quantities. The principle of working
is somewhat novel. The wick is not burned in the manner generally
followed in regard to lamps--viz., at the end, which within a short
time becomes carbonized and brings a marked diminution of the
illuminating power--but it is moved so that the same part is not
exposed continuously to the action of the heat arising from combustion.
It is caused to travel horizontally over a small roller, in a
specially-constructed burner, combustion taking place, therefore, on
its flat side. It is moved slowly and continuously over this roller,
so that it cannot burn through, and in this manner the flame, being
constantly emitted from a fresh surface, is of uniform intensity.

[Illustration: THE WIGHAM THIRTY-ONE DAY UNATTENDED PETROLEUM LIGHT.

The type at left shows the lamp carried upon a cast-iron pillar; while
on the right it is mounted upon a lattice tower.]

The lamp comprises three main parts. There is the lantern, with the
lens and the projecting panes of plate-glass, in the focus of which
the burner is fixed. Then there is the burning-oil reservoir, which
feeds the wick as it moves towards the burner. This reservoir is
circular in shape, somewhat shallow, and serves as a deck on which
the lantern is built up. The third part is the float cylinder, made
of copper, which is attached to the underside of the oil reservoir.
This cylinder is filled with oil, which is kept quite distinct from
the burning oil, and thereon floats a weighted copper drum, to which
one end of the wick is secured by means of a hook. At the lower end of
this cylinder is a micrometer valve, which when opened permits the oil
to drip away at a certain speed. This causes the float to fall with
the oil in the cylinder, and to drag the wick over the burner roller
and down the float cylinder after it, so that a fresh surface of the
wick is presented continuously for combustion. The lamps themselves may
be divided into two broad classes--the single-wick and the three-wick
respectively. The latter obviously emits the more brilliant light, and
is the type which is coming into more extensive use at the present
time. In the latest type a duplex burner is employed, and this has
been found to give a very powerful light with a comparatively low oil
consumption.

The light is generally carried at the top of a lattice-work steel
tower. A support of this character can be taken to pieces, packed
within small compass, and transported without difficulty, while
erection is simplified and facilitated. Seeing that a large number
of these beacons have been erected on headlands along the wildest
stretches of the African continent and the loneliest coasts of
Australia, where the methods of transport are restricted to coolies
or mules, this method of packing is distinctly advantageous. The lamp
is secured to the top of the tower, with the float cylinder of the lamp
depending from the centre. In this arrangement, as a rule, a small tank
is provided into which a drain-pipe empties the oil dropping from the
drip-valve. In this way the oil may be drawn off, filtered, and used
again in the float cylinder. In some instances the lamp is mounted upon
a cast-iron column, in which case the float cylinder and the oil-drip
tank are placed within the tube, access thereto being obtained through
a door.

The length of service on one charge varies according to the situation
of the light. If in a very exposed and inaccessible place, it may be
required to burn for two or three months without attention. Taken
on the average, however, a monthly charge has been found to offer
the greatest advantages. But in some places the longer interval is
unavoidable. For instance, the Wigham light which is mounted upon the
extremity of the Manora breakwater at Karachi cannot be approached for
three months at a time during the monsoon. Under these circumstances a
one-hundred-day service is imperative.

The lenses are of the dioptric order, consisting of six elements built
up into a strong gun-metal framework. The internal diameter naturally
varies with the size and number of the wicks, and ranges from 10 inches
for a 1-1/8 inch single wick, to 15 inches in the case of a 1-5/8 inch
three-wick lamp. In the larger sizes a curved plate-glass pane is
fitted outside the lens as a protection from the action of the weather.
These storm-panes are set in copper doors, so that the glasses may be
easily cleaned and polished when the lamp is being retrimmed.

[Illustration: WILLSON GAS AND WHISTLING FLOATING LIGHT OFF EGG ISLAND,
NOVA SCOTIA.]

[Illustration: THE WILLSON “OUTER AUTOMATIC,” HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA.]

The maintenance charges are guided by the local market values
of materials and labour, the item of repairs and renewals being
practically negligible. So far as oil consumption per month is
concerned, this fluctuates according to the type of lamp used,
ranging from 1-1/5 pints per twenty-four hours, or 4·8 gallons per
month, in the case of a 1-1/8-inch single-wick burner, to 2¼ pints
per twenty-four hours, or 8¾ gallons of oil per month, in the case
of the latest 1-5/8-inch duplex-wick burner. American petroleum-oil,
of a specific gravity of about 0·795, gives the best results and
the brightest and clearest flame. Russian and other heavier oils
generally used in lighthouses are unsuitable. In view of the world-wide
operations of the Standard Oil Company, however, no difficulty is
experienced in procuring adequate supplies of this oil anywhere between
the two Poles.

The oil used in the float cylinder, as mentioned previously, is quite
distinct from the burning oil, and is used only to support the float to
which the wick is attached. As the oil escapes through the drip-valve,
it may be allowed to run to waste, or, what is far preferable, it may
be caught, filtered, and used again for this purpose, to bring about a
reduction in the cost of upkeep. The float cylinder of a thirty-one-day
light, irrespective of the number of wicks, requires the same quantity
of oil for the float cylinder--9½ gallons.

The advantages of the unattended, automatic light have been appreciated
by the various maritime Powers, and their application is being
developed rapidly. They are inexpensive in first cost, and their
maintenance charges are very low. In Sweden a second-order light,
consuming 6 cubic feet of acetylene gas per hour, throwing a fixed
white light of 4,000 candle-power, and visible for seventeen miles in
clear weather, costs about £15, or $75, per annum; while the smaller
lights, with a 300-millimetre lens and a 12-inch burner emitting 360
candle-power, may be run for £2, or $10, per annum, the low cost in
this instance being attributable to use of the Dalén flasher and
sun-valve.

The cost of the acetylene gas averages ¾d., or 1½ cents, per cubic
foot, a result attributable to the fact that Scandinavia is the world’s
largest producer of carbide of calcium.

The Wigham petroleum system has proved similarly economical and
reliable, and has been installed in some of the wildest corners of
the globe. The Congested Districts Board for Ireland have established
a number of these beacons on the rugged west coast to assist the
fishermen in making their harbours at night. Many are placed in very
exposed positions on headlands, where they are frequently swept by the
full force of the Atlantic gales. The Austrian Government has adopted
the principle for lighting the dangerous coasts of the Adriatic near
Trieste, while the shoreline of Jamaica is safeguarded by more than
sixteen lights of this type. Many of these lights suffered severely
from the effects of the earthquake which overwhelmed the island a few
years ago, but others withstood all the shocks successfully. In this
instance, had expensive and massive lighthouses of the usual type been
erected, the loss would have been considerable, in view of the severity
of this seismic disturbance and the widespread destruction which was
wrought. These lights play a very prominent part in the guarding of
the southern ocean, the Australian shores being protected by over
sixty such beacons, many of which are established in very exposed and
isolated positions off the mainland.

While the day is still far distant when expensive graceful towers,
carrying immensely powerful lights, will be no longer constructed, the
perfection and utility of the unattended light, in one or other of
its many forms, are assisting tangibly in the solution of the problem
of lighting busy shorelines adequately and inexpensively. Structures
costing tens of thousands sterling in future will be restricted to
important places, especially in connection with sea-rocks, such as
landfalls, or to those some distance from the land, where a fog-signal
station must be maintained, unless the example of the Platte Fougère
land-controlled station becomes adopted.



CHAPTER XXII

FLOATING LIGHTHOUSES


Hand in hand with the development of the unattended light for service
on land positions has proceeded the adaptation of the floating
light. This may be described briefly as an enlarged edition of the
lighted buoy, which is such a conspicuous feature of our harbours and
estuaries. Yet it is more than a buoy. It can fulfil all the purposes
of a light-vessel, both as regards the emission of a ray of light or a
distinctive sound, so that both audible and visual warning are given
simultaneously. These lights likewise are automatic in their action,
and, when set going, require no further attention for some time. Nine
months or more are often permitted to pass without human hands touching
them, and they have solved some very abstruse problems in connection
with coast lighting.

For instance, there is probably no such lonely stretch of coastline as
that of British Columbia and Alaska. There is only one large port north
of Vancouver--Prince Rupert--and this rising hive of maritime activity
is 550 miles distant. The coast is as wild as that of Norway, which,
indeed, it resembles very closely, bristling as it does with fjords and
islands, with rugged cliffs rising abruptly from the water to a height
of several hundred feet. Navigation at night is extremely hazardous,
as the path leads by devious ways through deep channels intersecting
the outer barriers of islands, where fogs hang low and thickly. The
captain has to pick his way carefully, determining his course by timing
the period between the blast of his siren and its echo, as it is
thrown from headland to headland. As the passenger traffic developed,
the masters of the vessels entrusted with so many human lives felt
the increased responsibility keenly, and agitated for more adequate
protection. The erection of lighthouses, even of the most economical
type, would have entailed huge expenditure by both the United States
and Canadian Governments, while the question of maintenance would have
bristled with searching problems.

Accordingly, it was decided to adopt the floating automatic system,
which had proved eminently satisfactory in other parts of the world.
In this manner a highly successful and inexpensive solution of the
difficulty was found. These buoys have been installed at all the most
treacherous points leading to sounds and canals, as the lochs are
called, and have been found in every way equal to the simplest type
of attended lighthouse. The southern coast of Nova Scotia has been
protected in a similar manner, a chain of automatic lights, spaced ten
miles apart, having been completed, so that this wild, rugged shore
is patrolled very efficiently at the present moment. Other countries
have not been dilatory in adopting the same methods. Consequently,
to-day the automatic floating lighthouse is one of the handiest, most
efficient and reliable devices for assisting navigation that the
lighthouse engineer has at his command.

The lights assume different forms, this factor being influenced by
position, specific duty, and local conditions. Similarly, the character
of the illuminant employed also varies, acetylene, compressed oil-gas,
petroleum, and electricity, being utilized, according to circumstances.
On the whole, however, acetylene gas appears to be the most favoured
illuminating medium, inasmuch as the preparation of the carbide of
calcium has undergone such marked improvement.

When Mr. Thomas L. Willson discovered the cheap process for the
manufacture of carbide of calcium upon a commercial scale, and the
new industry became placed upon a firm footing, it was only natural
that the inventor should realize the possibilities of applying the
new illuminant to the assistance of navigation. Acetylene gas gives
a brilliant clear light of intense whiteness, which is capable of
penetrating a great distance. Accordingly, he set to work to devise
a buoy lighted by this gas, and able to carry sufficient storage of
calcium carbide to burn for weeks or months without attention. When
he had completed the first apparatus of this character, he handed it
over to the Marine Department of the Canadian Government for submission
to any test that they might consider expedient, in order to ascertain
the limits of its application. The buoy was set in position and
watched carefully. Periodically it was examined to ascertain whether
overhauling and cleaning were necessary, as well as the behaviour
of the light under all conditions of weather. Captains of vessels
passing the beacon were requested to pronounce their opinions upon the
quality of the light, and their remarks concerning its range, facility
with which it might be picked up, reliability, and so forth, were
carefully marshalled and digested by the authorities. Precisely what
the officials thought of the invention is reflected most convincingly
by the fact that to-day over 300 lights working upon this principle are
stationed in Canadian waters, both upon the storm-bound ocean coasts
and upon the wind-swept shores of the Great Lakes and waterways.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.--SECTIONAL ELEVATION OF THE WILLSON AUTOMATIC
FLOATING LIGHT. (See next page.)]

The Willson buoys are absolutely automatic in their operation. All
the impurities in the gas are removed by passing it through a special
purifier, so that the burner cannot become clogged or the light
impoverished. A charge of 1,300 to 1,500 pounds of carbide is carried
within the apparatus, and the gas is generated _under low pressure_.
The lantern is fitted with a Fresnel lens, so that the light is
condensed into an intensely powerful and penetrating horizontal beam.
One prominent feature is that the candle-power of acetylene gas is
seven times as high as that of compressed oil-gas, while the reservoir
of a given size will contain this equivalent of more light. The
candle-power of these floating lights obviously varies, the largest
size being capable of emitting a beam of 1,000 candle-power, this flame
being the maximum that the lens will stand without breaking.

The construction and the principle of operation are exceedingly simple,
as may be gathered from reference to Fig. 16. The beacon comprises
a gas generator tube of steel (1), which is supported by the steel
float chamber (2), on the upper side of which is placed the support
(3) carrying the lantern (4). Stability is insured by means of the
counterweight (6) attached to the lower end of the generator tube.
A few feet from the bottom of the latter is a diaphragm (7), fitted
centrally with a conically-seated valve (8) which is mounted on a stem
(9). This extends through the centre of the generator and its head
(10). The upper end of the valve stem carries a hexagonal nut (11),
while the stem itself at this point has a keyway cut into it. A spline
is fitted into the generator head to engage the keyway, and when the
nut (11) is turned to close or to open the valve, the stem itself
cannot move with it, except in two directions only--up or down. The nut
itself cannot be turned too far, in which event it might drop the stem
and valve, as there is a stop-collar (12). Leakage of gas is prevented
by a cap (14), which is screwed into the generator head and sealed with
a rubber washer. This cap is sufficiently long to permit the valve stem
to be raised or lowered so as to adjust the movement of the valve. The
stem of the valve is protected from the carbide by enclosure within
a tube (13), which works through a guide bar (24) bolted to the side
of the generator tube. A grid (23) is fitted in the centre of the
diaphragm (7) and surrounding the valve (8), so as to prevent small
pieces of carbide, which may pass through the grate (16), from falling
into the water, and thereby being wasted. The steel grate upon which
the carbide rests is attached to the inside of the generator, a short
distance above the diaphragm. The grid (23) also acts as a valve seat,
and is provided with a rubber packing (15), which is held in a groove
in the seat, and projects a sufficient distance to make a good joint
with the valve (8) when it is closed, even if the valve happen to be
foul.

The carbide of calcium, in the form of large crystals measuring about
8 by 4 inches, is placed in the generator tube when the beacon is
immersed in the water, the valve (8) being opened and the valve-cap
(14) screwed down. In the centre of the counterweight (6) is an orifice
through which the water enters from the outside, and passes through
the open valve, to come into contact with the carbide resting upon the
grate. Gas is generated instantly, to ascend through the carbide into
the purifying chamber (5), where all deleterious matter is removed, the
gas escaping thence through the small aperture (17) and pipe (18) to
the lantern, to which the supply-pipe is connected by the aid of the
coupling (19).

Of course, at times gas is liable to be generated more rapidly than
it can be consumed. What happens? The apparatus is not provided with
facilities to receive the surplus gas. Being unable to escape upwards
through the generator tube, it collects at the bottom, and as the
pressure increases it gradually forces the water away from the carbide,
so that generation ceases, and is not resumed until the surplus gas has
been absorbed, when the water once more is able to come into contact
with the carbide. Thus it will be seen that the gas generation is
controlled automatically, and that it is almost impossible for the gas
pressure within the plant to reach a disruptive degree, owing to the
fact that when it exceeds a certain limit it has a free vent from the
bottom of the device, where the water normally is permitted to enter to
carry out its designed purpose.

This invention has been utilized for a wide variety of purposes, from
the lighting of harbours, navigable channels, rivers, bays, and so
forth, to that of exposed coasts. The automatic beacon, properly so
called, has a tower, which brings the focal plane to an elevation
varying between 50 and 100 feet, this tower being built of lattice
steelwork attached to the top half of the buoy, with a day mark
surrounding the lantern gallery, access to which is secured by an iron
ladder. This type of light carries a sufficient storage of carbide
in a single charge to keep the light burning continuously for about
forty weeks. In this instance the only modification from that already
described is that the water for the production of the gas is admitted
into the top instead of to the bottom of the generator. When an excess
of gas occurs, the pressure thereof drives the water away from the
carbide until the surplus has been consumed. Another type, somewhat
smaller, carrying a charge sufficient for nearly six months, has proved
highly successful as a coastal light, some thirty beacons of this class
being stationed along the shore of British Columbia. The only trouble
experienced therewith in these waters has been due to frost, which,
solidifying the water around the buoy, has interrupted the designed
functions.

But probably the most complete and useful type of Willson acetylene
gas beacon is that in which the Courtenay whistling device is
incorporated, so that in thick weather audible warning of the danger
may be extended. In this instance the floating chamber which supports
the superstructure carrying the light and also the generator tube, is
fitted with two further tubes which project from the base like huge
legs. These tubes are open at the bottom, but are closed at the top
except for a connection with a valve-casing, which is fitted with a
ball-valve, and upon which a powerful whistle is bolted. Now, if the
buoy is lowered and anchored in absolutely still water, the water will
rise to the same level within the tubes as it is outside; but when the
buoy is lifted upon the crest of a wave, the level of the water falls,
so that the air space within the tubes is increased. Air enters this
augmented space through the ball-check inlet valve in the valve-casing.
When the beacon falls, naturally the water endeavours to maintain its
level within the tubes, and therefore the air which was admitted into
the space becomes compressed, to be expelled through the only possible
vent--the whistle--thereby producing a very powerful blast. Thirty of
these combined light and whistling buoys have been strung along the
rugged Nova Scotia coast, and have proved highly popular, that outside
Halifax harbour being known colloquially among seafarers as the “Outer
Automatic.”

Another acetylene system, but working upon a better principle, has been
perfected in Sweden, and, indeed, now has been adopted universally,
owing to its many excellent features. This is the “Aga” light, which
is the invention of Mr. Gustaf Dalén,[C] and which has been brought
to a high stage of commercial success by the Gas Accumulator Company
of Stockholm. I have pointed out the one objection to the Willson
acetylene automatic light--namely, its uselessness when the surrounding
water becomes frozen. While this drawback does not affect its sphere
of utility to a noticeable degree in Canadian waters, it acts somewhat
adversely in other seas where similar conditions prevail, but where
the navigable channels are kept open by ice-breakers, such as, for
instance, in the Baltic Sea. Mr. Dalén recognized this weak point in
any system wherein contact with water is responsible for the generation
of the gas, and accordingly sought for a superior method. Fortunately,
the perfection of a new means of handling acetylene, by French
inventors, offered the complete solution of the problem in a practical
way. The principle of this lies in the use of dissolved acetylene,
which is perfectly safe from explosion, and can be handled with the
greatest facility. The gas can be stored in cylinders similar to those
used for containing oxygen and hydrogen under pressure, gases which
are easier to transport than carbide of calcium, and, what is far more
important, climatic conditions do not exercise the slightest influence
upon it.

    [C] The humane labours of Mr. Dalén received recognition by the
        award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912.

Dissolved acetylene may be stored within the cylinder, or accumulator,
as it is called, to a pressure of at least ten atmospheres, and at
this pressure it contains 100 times its own volume of acetylene gas.
The accumulators may be made of any desired size, this factor being
governed by considerations of transport and application, as well as of
the consumption of the burner.

The perfection of the dissolved acetylene process came as a great boon
to the Swedish lighting authorities, inasmuch as they have probably
the most difficult stretch of coastline in the world to protect. At the
same time, owing to the wild, exposed character of many of the points
which demanded lighting, a perfect, economical, and reliable automatic
system was in urgent demand. Acetylene was an obvious illuminant,
since, while the country is deficient in the essential resources for
the preparation of other fuels, carbide of calcium is very cheap,
Sweden, in fact, being the largest producer of this commodity. The
Swedish Board of Pilotage experimented with acetylene lighting for six
or seven years, submitting every known acetylene lighting system to
searching practical trials, but failed to be sufficiently convinced on
the vital question of reliability. Freezing-up was the most pronounced
shortcoming, but when dissolved acetylene appeared as a commercial
product this disadvantage was removed completely, and acetylene was
adopted.

[Illustration: THE “KALKGRUNDET,” SWEDEN’S LATEST AUTOMATIC LIGHTSHIP.

The Dalén Flasher is used, and this undoubtedly is the finest vessel of
its type in the world.]

Yet dissolved acetylene, though completely successful, possessed one
drawback. It was expensive as compared with oil-gas. Accordingly, there
was great scope for a means of economizing the consumption of the fuel
without interfering with its lighting value and efficiency. At the same
time a superior flashing system was desired. The methods which were
in vogue to this end were satisfactory so far as they went, but they
involved a considerable useless consumption of gas.

This is where Mr. Gustaf Dalén completed one of his greatest
achievements. He perfected a flashing apparatus wherein the gas passes
to the burner in intermittent puffs, to be ignited by a small invisible
pilot light. The device was tested and proved so successful that it
was adopted throughout the service. In Swedish waters to-day there are
127 aids to navigation operating upon this system, of which five are
lightships. The success of the invention in the land of its origin
attracted other nations to its possibilities. At the present moment
over 700 lights, scattered throughout the world, are working upon this
principle.

If a beacon throws a fixed light, unless it is of extreme power, it is
liable to be confused with a ship’s mast-light, a fact which was found
to be one of the greatest objections to the fixed white light of the
acetylene aid to navigation. On the other hand, a flashing warning must
be of such a character that it cannot be mistaken for the twinkling
of a brilliant star, or of a light which has nothing to do with
navigation. This is where the “Aga” flasher emphasizes its value. It
throws a short, powerful gleam at brief intervals. The mariner cannot
possibly confuse or misconstrue it; the regularity of the flash arrests
his immediate attention, and its purport may be divined instantly. The
apparatus is simple and highly effective, while it has the advantage
that the periods of light and darkness can be altered in relation to
one another, or grouped, as desired.

From the maintenance point of view, however, the invention is of far
greater significance. As the gas is consumed only during the light
periods, which are very brief in comparison with the eclipse, the
economy effected is very appreciable. When the apparatus was first
brought within the range of practical application, many authorities,
which had become wedded to the oil-gas lighting system, wherein the
light flashes are of long duration in comparison with the dark periods,
maintained that the Dalén flash was too short to be of any value. They
disregarded the fact that the power of the acetylene-gas flash is about
seven times as intense as that of the oil-gas light. For instance, when
the United States acquired the first Aga light in the autumn of 1908,
the authorities demanded either a characteristic signal comprising ten
seconds of light followed by five seconds of darkness, or flashes and
eclipses of equal duration--five seconds.

[Illustration: THE “SVINBĀDAN,” UNATTENDED LIGHTSHIP IN SWEDISH WATERS.

It works upon the Dalén system with flasher, giving a flash of 0·3
second duration, followed by darkness for 2·7 seconds.]

There was a prejudice against short, powerful, and oft-repeating
flashes, mainly because their advantages were misunderstood. Practical
experience, however, demonstrated the fact that the period of light
might be reduced very considerably, and, as a result of prolonged
investigations, the Swedish Board of Pilotage adopted a characteristic
comprising 0·3 second light followed by darkness for 2·7 seconds. This
has become known since as the “one-tenth flash,” owing to the luminous
interval occupying one-tenth of the combined period of light and
darkness. It will be seen that, as a result of this arrangement, twenty
flashes are thrown per minute.

As the flame is lighted for only one-tenth of the signal period,
it will be seen that the saving of gas amounts to 90 per cent., as
compared with the light which is burning constantly. Accordingly, the
gas charge will last ten times as long with the flashing apparatus;
consequently, the accumulator need have only one-tenth of the capacity
of that for a similar beacon which burns constantly. The economy really
is not quite 90 per cent., as a certain volume of gas is consumed by
the pilot flame, which ignites the charge of gas issuing from the
flasher burner. This, however, is an insignificant item, inasmuch as
the quantity of gas burned by the pilot light does not exceed one-third
of a cubic foot per twenty-four hours.

Not only has this highly ingenious system been adapted to varying types
of buoys, similar in design and range of action to those described in
connection with the Willson apparatus, wherein the light may be left
unattended for as long as twelve months, according to the capacity of
the accumulator, but it has also been applied to “light-boats” and
light-vessels. The “light-boat” is a hybrid, being a combination of the
buoy and the lightship, and was devised to meet special conditions.
Thus, the “Gerholmen” light-boat stationed in the mouth of a Swedish
river, where the current runs exceedingly strongly, resembles a small
boat with a water-tight deck. From the centre of this rises a steel
tripod, at the top of which the lantern is placed. The gas accumulators
are stored within the hull, and are of sufficient capacity to maintain
the light for a round twelvemonth without attention, as the flashing
apparatus is incorporated.

The Aga light has come to be regarded as one of the greatest
developments in lighthouse engineering, and has been adopted
extensively throughout the world in connection with either floating
or fixed aids to navigation. The United States have decided to adopt
the system exclusively henceforth, until a further progressive step is
achieved, and several floating lights of this type have been acquired
already to guard wild and lonely stretches of the coastline.

Here and there attempts have been made to apply electricity to
inaccessible lights. The most interesting endeavour in this direction
was in connection with the lighting of the Gedney Channel from the
open Atlantic to New York harbour. This formerly constituted the only
available highway for the big liners, and it is exceedingly tortuous
and treacherous--so much so that vessels arriving off Sandy Hook
in waning daylight invariably anchored and awaited the dawn before
resuming the journey. The great difficulty in connection with Gedney’s
Channel was the distance of the main lights on shore, the direct range
at one part being over thirteen miles. Consequently the land lights
were of little utility to the pilot.

The authorities decided to convert the channel into an electric-lighted
waterway. Buoys were laid down on either side of the thoroughfare. They
were of the spar type, resembling decapitated masts projecting from
the water, and were held in position by mushroom anchors, weighing
4,000 pounds, or nearly 2 tons, apiece. Each buoy was crowned with
a 100 candle-power incandescent electric lamp, encased within a
special globe having a diameter of 5 inches. An electric cable was
laid on either side of this street and connected with each buoy. The
first section was completed in 1888, the electric gleams being shed
for the first time on November 7 of that year. The system appeared
to give such complete satisfaction that it was extended. Altogether
six and a quarter miles of cable were laid down, which in itself was
no easy feat, while prodigious difficulties were experienced in its
maintenance, owing to the severity of the currents and the treacherous
character of the sea-bed. The lights were controlled from a central
point ashore, and the idea of being able to switch on and off a chain
of aids to navigation by a simple movement presented many attractive
features. Although navigation appreciated this improvement, the Great
White Waterway did not prove a complete success. It did not possess
that vital element of complete reliability which is so essential to
navigation.

Compressed oil-gas has been employed extensively for unattended
floating lights, but it possesses so many shortcomings that it is being
superseded on all sides by acetylene, with the exception of one or two
countries which appear to be inseparably wedded to this principle. It
is expensive both to install and to maintain, while the “radius of
action”--otherwise, the period during which it may be left without
human attention--is unavoidably brief. For temporary purposes, such as
the indication of a submerged wreck, it is efficient, while it is also
serviceable for accessible positions, but it is not regarded as being
a satisfactory system for places which human hands cannot reach for
months at a time.

Crude petroleum in conjunction with the Wigham long-burning petroleum
lamp, wherein the flame is produced from a moving wick, has been
adopted widely. Lights installed upon this principle may be left for
ninety-three days at a time without anxiety. In many instances the
Wigham light is mounted upon steel boats; in other cases it is attached
to floating wooden structures. The British Admiralty in particular is
partial to this type of light, and it must be confessed that it has
proved highly serviceable and reliable.

I have described already the general principles and features of this
system. When it is applied to a floating beacon, and it is desired
to save the oil dropping from the drip valve, a tank is fixed to the
deck of the floating structure, and connected by a flexible pipe to
the coupling at the bottom of the float cylinder. A universal joint is
attached to the connection on the top of the tank to prevent the pipe
being twisted by the swinging and swaying motion of the lamp on the
gimbals. When the lamp is inspected, the oil may be pumped out of the
tank, strained, and used time after time in the float cylinder.

One of the most interesting of this type of floating boat-lights is
to be seen in Queenstown harbour. The hull is 30 feet in length, and
has a beam of 11 feet. On this, within a conical structure measuring
7½ feet high and 6½ feet in diameter at the deck, is mounted the
lantern. Although the lamp is exposed to drenching seas and heavy
storms, it has never yet failed, a fact which conclusively points to
its efficiency. It rides well, and the lamp is kept much drier than the
lights on ordinary buoys, according to the observations of the engineer
responsible for its maintenance. In this case the focus of the light is
brought 12 feet above the level of the sea.

Probably the most compelling illustration of the utility of the
automatic beacon is offered by the unattended lightship. The Otter Rock
vessel is one of the most interesting examples of this development.
It was designed by Messrs. D. and C. Stevenson, and comprises a
substantial steel hull, the deck of which is covered so that the
interior is absolutely water-tight. The craft is provided with a
central and heavy bilge keels, so as to reduce rolling to the minimum.
Two heavy steel bulkheads divide the craft into three water-tight
compartments, in the centre of which two large welded-steel gas tanks
are stowed. These are of sufficient capacity to feed the light for
several months without replenishment. The light is mounted upon a steel
tower placed amidships, which brings the focal plane 25 feet above the
water. The gas is fed from the tanks to the lantern through the tower,
a valve reducing the pressure, while a ladder enables the attendants
to climb to the lantern gallery to adjust the burner and flame, and to
clean the lenses, upon the occasion of their periodical visits.

The gas cylinders are charged from the supply-ship through flexible
hoses, the gas being compressed to about 180 pounds per square inch.
The light is of sufficient power and elevation to be seen from a
distance of some twelve miles. The beacon gives not only a visual, but
also an audible warning. On the deck of the boat a bell is mounted,
this being rung not only by the motion of the ship, in the manner of
a bell-buoy, but also by the gas on its passage from the tanks to the
lantern, the bell being fitted with two clappers for this purpose. The
gas in passing from the tank enters a receptacle having a flexible
diaphragm, which, as it becomes filled with gas, is naturally pressed
outwards. On this is mounted a central metal piece, which is connected
to a rod and lever. As the diaphragm is forced outwards, it moves the
rod and actuates the lever, which, when the diaphragm falls, return
to their normal positions. Attached to this mechanical arrangement
is the bell-clapper, which alternately is lifted and dropped upon
the dome of the bell, thereby causing it to ring. After the gas has
performed its duty in raising the clapper lever and rod, it passes
to the lantern to be consumed. Thus, while the light gleams brightly
and steadily, the bell rings with unerring regularity--about three
times per minute--day and night for months on a single charge; both
must continue in operation until the supply of gas is expended. The
success of this interesting and novel lightship has been responsible
for similar installations in other similarly wild and exposed positions
where approach is uncertain and often impossible for weeks at a time.

[Illustration:

            _Photo by permission of Messrs. Edmondsons Ltd., Dublin._

THE LANTERN USED IN THE WIGHAM AUTOMATIC PETROLEUM BEACON.

The circular shallow reservoir contains the burning-oil, which feeds
the wick as it moves towards the burner, and also acts as a deck on
which the lantern is built. In this ingenious system the flame is not
produced at the end of the wick as in the ordinary lamp, but from the
flat side of the wick, which is moved continuously in a horizontal
direction over a small roller. By this means a light of uniform
intensity is obtained, as carbonization cannot occur.]

One misadventure befell the Otter Rock light-vessel, which is moored in
an open position over the rock of that name near Islay, although it was
not the fault of either the system or the designing engineers. There
was a flaw in one of the shackles, and while the ship was sawing and
tugging at her anchors during a heavy gale the flaw asserted itself,
the shackle broke, and the lightship got away. She was recovered with
some difficulty, after having drifted about twenty miles. She was found
stove in, having embraced the rocks during her wayward journey, but
otherwise was unharmed. She was towed into port, repaired, and then
taken back to her station, where she was secured more firmly than ever,
while her chains were closely inspected to make assurance doubly sure.
No repetition of the accident has occurred since, and the Otter Rock
lightship, tethered firmly to the rock, rides gales and calms, throwing
her welcome rays and droning her musical warning the whole year
round as steadily and efficiently as if she had a crew aboard.

A similar lightship was built for the Trinity House authorities from
the designs of their engineer, Sir Thomas Matthews, for service on the
English coast. This boat, built of steel, measures 65 feet in length,
by 18½ feet beam and 10½ feet depth, with the lantern carried at the
point of an open steel pyramidal structure, rising sufficiently high
above the boat’s deck amidships to bring the focal plane 26 feet above
the level of the water, thereby giving it a visible range of some ten
miles. The boat is provided with two holds, in which the gas reservoirs
are placed, the total gas capacity being about 1,500 cubic feet--enough
to keep the light burning for one hundred days.

This light is of the revolving type, and the rotation of the apparatus
is accomplished very ingeniously. Before the gas passes to the burner,
it drives a tiny three-cylinder engine, the crank-shaft of which is
connected to the revolving apparatus through gearing. The speed of the
turntable is kept constant by the aid of a governor, and the apparatus
works so smoothly and perfectly that there is not the slightest
divergence from the rate at which the apparatus is set. As the gas
emerges from the engine, it passes to the burner to be consumed. By
means of a novel apparatus, should anything befall the little motor or
the rotating mechanism, the light does not drop out of service. In that
event the gas flows directly to the burner, the only difference being
that a fixed instead of a revolving light is emitted.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of Messrs. Edmondsons Ltd., Dublin._

THE “6-BAR” FLOATING AUTOMATIC WIGHAM LIGHT IN PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR.

This beacon, burning crude petroleum, burns for thirty days on a single
oil charge.]

When the Scandinavian liner _Norge_, while on her way to the United
States in July, 1904, fouled the terrible Rockall and lost 750 of her
passengers, the outcry about the absence of all means of indicating
this spot to the navigator vibrated round the world. Yet it was a
useless agitation. Rockall is a no-man’s land; no nation has planted
its flag upon its cone of granite; no Power cares whether it continues
its harvest of human lives or otherwise. The various countries appear
to think that it is too much off the map to be worthy of a moment’s
thought; its existence is brought home only by a holocaust.

After this heartrending disaster, Messrs. D. and C. Stevenson
adumbrated a promising means of indicating this awful graveyard to
the seafarer. They suggested that two automatic unattended lightships
should be constructed, and that one should relieve the other every six
months. The project was eminently practicable, but every country seemed
to shirk responsibility in the expense of its adoption. But Rockall is
a unique danger spot; in no other part of the known world does such a
formidable isolated peak of granite rise from the ocean depths, for
it is in mid-Atlantic, 160 miles west of St. Kilda, and 290 miles off
the Scottish mainland. It may be away from the great steamship lanes
of the Atlantic, yet a vast volume of shipping passes within sight
of its curious formation. Seeing that the foremost maritime Powers
defray between them the cost of maintaining the light off Cape Spartel,
surely the dictates of humanity are sufficiently pressing to secure the
indication of this islet. The maintenance of an unattended automatic
beacon, such as Messrs. Stevenson advocated, would not impose a severe
strain upon the treasuries of the leading Powers of the world, whose
interests are associated intimately with the North Atlantic.

The perfection of the unattended lightship, working automatically, has
provided the lighthouse engineer with a powerful weapon for marking the
most exposed and out-of-the-way danger spots. When the new development
is carried to its uttermost lengths, no graveyard of the ocean, no
matter how remote and inaccessible, need be without means of warning
shipping of its whereabouts.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE LIGHT-KEEPER AND HIS LIFE


The life of the guardian of a blazing signpost of the coast is much
the same the whole world over. It is unavoidably monotonous under
the best conditions. Each succeeding day and night brings a similar
round of toil, with very little variation. There are the same duties
to be performed in strict accordance with routine, and under normal
circumstances there are many idle hours which have to be whiled away
as best one can. On the mainland, especially in the South of England,
France, Germany, and the United States, the loneliness and monotony are
not felt so keenly by the wardens of the light, as in many instances
they are in close proximity to ports and towns, where a little welcome
relaxation may be obtained during the rest spells; while in the
summer evenings, if the lights should be only a few miles away from
civilization, visitors are frequent. Again, the keepers as a rule live
with their families in cosy solid buildings, and, having a stretch
of garden flanking their homes, can expend their hours of leisure to
advantage.

On the isolated, lonely rock, however, the conditions are vastly
different. The average person, when regarding on a calm day the tall
slim outlines of a tower rising from the water, is apt to regard
the life of those responsible for keeping the light going as one
enveloped in romance and peace, far removed from the trials and worries
of the maelstrom of civilization. But twenty-four hours on one of
these beacons completely dispel all romantic impression. The gilt of
fascination wears away quickly, and the visitor recognizes only too
forcibly the terrible desolation of it all, and admires the little band
of men who watch vigilantly over the deep for the guidance of those who
go down to the sea in ships.

The keepers of such stations are marooned as completely as any castaway
on a barren island. In many instances they cannot even signal to the
shore. If anything should go wrong, they must wait until a ship comes
in sight, to communicate their tidings by flag signals. If the call is
urgent, say for illness, and the passing boat carries a doctor, she
will heave to, and, if conditions permit, will launch a boat to carry
the medical man to the rock to administer aid. If it is a matter of
life or death, the ship will take the man off.

As may be imagined, upon a sea-rock, owing to the slender proportions
of the tower, the quarters are inevitably very cramped, with no
facilities for the men to stretch their limbs. The manner in which
space is economized in the small circular apartments is astonishing.
The essential furniture is built to the wall, and liberal cupboard
space is provided, the governing consideration being to provide the men
with as much open space as the restricted circumstances will permit.
The only exercise that the men can obtain in the open air is upon the
narrow shelf forming the landing platform, or the narrow gallery around
the lantern. In the majority of circumstances it is less than that
provided for the benefit of a prisoner in an exercise yard.

The lamp is lighted at dusk, and, unless it is a fixed white light, the
clockwork driving the occulting and revolving mechanism has to be wound
up. Seeing that this entails the lifting of a ton or so up the vertical
cylinder in which the weight travels, this is no mean task in itself.

Unremitting vigilance has to be maintained while the lamp is burning.
It demands attention from time to time, while, should anything serious
go wrong, the attendant must bring the reserve lamp into service
without a moment’s loss of time and without interruption of the ray.

“The light must not go out!” That is the inflexible rule of all
attended lights between the two Poles. Even if it failed only for a
minute, the circumstance would not escape observation. Some vessel
would detect the breakdown; it would be recorded in the captain’s
log-book. When he touched the first port, intimation would be sent to
the organization responsible for the beacon, setting forth the fact
that on such and such a night, at a certain hour, this light was not
showing in accordance with the official light list, or was giving a
warning different from that laid down for the guidance of the seafarer.
An inquiry would be instituted immediately to ascertain the reason, and
the light-keeper probably would find himself in an awkward position,
although months might have elapsed since the incident.

There is nothing haphazard about the control of lights. The
circumstances are too serious to permit the slightest deviation from
hard-and-fast regulations. The passing mariner is entirely dependent
upon these blazing guardians, maybe from a distance of fifteen miles or
more. He has his chart wherewith he is able to steer his way, but he
must have certain marks to guide him at night, so that he may be sure
of his course and position. Accordingly, every lighthouse possesses
some individual characteristic in regard to its light. As explained
elsewhere, it may be a group flash, an occulting flash of a distinctive
nature, a revolving light which completes a revolution once in a
certain period of time, or a fixed blaze.

Fortunately, the men watching over the lights appreciate the gravity
of their responsibility, and are reliable to an heroic degree. Each
is a man picked for the duty, who is not appalled by loneliness, and
is of unimpeachable precision. Of course, accidents will happen, but
dereliction of duty is criminal, because it may bring about loss of
life. Carelessness on the part of a light-keeper precipitated the
loss of the steamer _Victoria_ when crossing the English Channel from
Newhaven to Dieppe on April 12, 1887. The French coast, as it was being
approached, became shrouded by the inexorable fog-fiend. The captain
lost his way, although he knew, from the time he had been steaming,
that he must be perilously near the French shore. He listened for
the droning of the fog-siren mounted on Pointe d’Ailly, but in vain.
He sent to the engine-room to ascertain the number of revolutions
the engines had made, and this convinced him that he must be close
inshore, despite the silence of the fog-signal. Thinking that he might
have strayed some distance east of Dieppe, he brought his vessel
round, and then crawled slowly ahead. But he had scarcely settled into
his forward stride when there was a crash--a terrible splitting and
crunching. The vessel had kept a true course, and now had hit the very
rocks which the captain had sought to avoid. The passengers, being
ready to land, were got into the boats and pushed through the dense
curtain for land, but some thirty passengers and crew were never seen
again.

The subsequent inquiry revealed an amazing breach of duty on the part
of those in charge of the light-station. The head lighthouse-keeper,
off duty at the time, was asleep in bed, but his wife awoke him as she
observed the fog settling upon the water. He dressed hurriedly, and
rushed to see what his companion was doing. This official had failed
lamentably in his duties. Instead of starting the boiler fires to raise
the steam to work the siren upon the first signs of the approaching
enemy, as he should have done, he had delayed the duty. The result
was that an hour was wasted, and during this interval the unfortunate
captain took his ship upon the rocks. To make matters worse, the
keepers did not perceive the wreck until some two hours after the
disaster, although they admitted that they heard the cries of people
an hour and a half previously, but never suspected the cause of the
turmoil.

The man on watch during the night maintains a keen lookout. The
faintest signs of a gathering mist are sufficient to cause him to wake
his assistant to manipulate the fog-signal, even if the precaution
proves to be unnecessary. “It is better to be safe than sorry,” is the
lighthouse-keeper’s motto; so he runs no risks.

When the gathering brightness of the dawn enables the form of the
tower to be identified from a distance of several miles, the light is
extinguished. Heavy curtains are drawn across the windows, not only
to protect the lenses from the sun, but also to give a characteristic
colour to the lantern. Thus, by daylight a lantern may appear to be a
dull red or an intense black. To give a brilliant light by night and be
a prominent landmark by day forms the dual duty of the guardian of the
coast.

When the lantern has cooled, the keepers coming on the day shift have
to clean the lamps and put them in order for service the following
evening. Everything has to be overhauled and got ready for use at a
moment’s notice. The oil reservoirs have to be examined and charged,
and the panes of glass, with which the lantern is glazed, cleaned and
brightened. The reflectors have to be polished, for they must be kept
in a constant state of mirror-like brilliancy. All brasswork has to be
cleaned and polished until it gleams like burnished gold, while the
rooms must be washed and kept in the pink of condition, free from the
smallest specks of dust.

The necessity for extreme cleanliness and spotlessness is emphasized
in every lighthouse. The inspector has a highly-trained, quick
eye for detecting carelessness, and he has one instinct developed
peculiarly--the discovery of dust. He draws his fingers over
everything, and squints quizzically at an object from all angles. Woe
betide the keeper if the slightest trace of dirt is detected. Then the
inspector closes the other eye, and the keeper receives a squint which
does not augur well for his future. A few sharp, pointed remarks are
rasped out, and it is not long before the relief-boat comes out with
another man.

The engineers and other representatives of authority are remorseless.
A man is judged from apparently trifling details. If he permits a
door-knob to become sullied, he is just as likely to overlook the
polishing of the lenses, or to perform some other vital task in a
perfunctory manner.

One of the Stevensons achieved a peculiar notoriety among the Scottish
keepers for his unbending attitude in this connection. He had a scent
for dust and untidiness developed as keenly as that of a mouse for
cheese. When his boat came alongside a light, and the keeper stepped
forward to extend a helping hand, the eyes of the engineer scanned
him searchingly. If the man’s appearance were not immaculate,
trouble loomed ahead. This engineer maintained that if a man were
indifferent to his own appearance, and permitted dust to collect upon
his own clothes, he could not be trusted to maintain the delicate
apparatus of a lighthouse in apple-pie order! What was more to the
point, the engineer generally was correct in his deductions. He spared
no effort to place the most responsible lights in the hands of men
above suspicion in regard to cleanliness. Although, as this martinet
confessed, nothing pained him more than to have words with any of his
keepers, cleanliness had to be maintained.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the “Syren and Shipping.”_

THE PUMPS WHEREBY THE OIL IS LIFTED FROM THE LOWEST FLOOR TO THE
LANTERN-ROOM.]

When the keeper has completed his routine duties, he is at liberty to
spend his leisure according to his inclinations. As a rule the men turn
these periods to advantage. Reading is a popular recreation, and the
authorities maintain a circulating library, the books being changed
with every relief. But the men could accept twice as much literature
as is available at present. Here a word should be said concerning the
Lighthouse Literature Mission and its work, which is international.
The idea was conceived by Mr. Samuel H. Strain, and the work is
conducted from Belfast, Ireland. The most conspicuous feature of this
organization is that every penny received is turned to good and useful
purpose in connection with the object. The founder conducts it without
monetary reward, so that the item of “operating” charges does not
swamp the greater proportion of receipts, as is the case with so many
so-called missions in other fields. There are few organizations which
are so deserving of financial support, because this mission brings
welcome relaxation to a hard-worked community whose vigil secures the
safety of those who travel on the sea. The labours of Mr. Strain are
highly appreciated by those who keep watch and ward in seagirt prisons,
and the mission deserves far stauncher support from the philanthropic
than it receives at present. Sympathizers with the loneliness of the
lighthouse-keeper are prone to think that these men are in dire need
of spiritual pabulum, and are apt to send literature of an emphatic
goody-goody nature. But the keeper of the light is as human as the
clerk in the city. He is so accustomed to the company of Nature, and
has cultivated such a deep respect for the Master of the Universe
during his spells of duty, that he welcomes a diversion therefrom in
his hours of leisure. A humorous paper is more welcome than a tract on
the evils of drink.

When the weather is favourable the men seek a little relaxation in
fishing, but here again they have to suffer considerable denial, as
the tackle invariably becomes inextricably entangled with the rocks,
so that the losses exceed the prizes. In the United States the greater
number of the keepers maintain a garden well stocked with vegetables
and flowers. The tending of these charges carries the minds of the
men from their work completely, and for the opportunity to practise
this hobby they are indebted to the kindness of the Government, which
supplies seeds free of charge.

It is when the gale is raging tumultuously that the men in the tower
are compelled to realize their position. The waves pound the rock and
building so ceaselessly and relentlessly that the latter trembles
and shakes like a leaf. At times the din is so deafening that the
men cannot converse; they are compelled to communicate with each
other by signs. The waves pick up stones and hurl them with terrific
force against the lantern. Occasionally the elements triumph in their
assault, and the missiles shatter the glass. To step out on the gallery
in the teeth of a blizzard to clear the snow away demands no little
courage. As the man emerges upon the narrow platform, he is engulfed in
the swirling flakes, and often is pinned against the masonry so tightly
by the wind that he cannot move a limb; at other times he is swept
almost off his feet. While engaged in his freezing task, he also runs
the risk of being drenched by a rising comber.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the “Syren and Shipping.”_

COMBINED KITCHEN AND LIVING-ROOM IN THE LIGHTHOUSE.]

The men on the lonely, exposed Tillamook Rock, off the Oregon coast,
have had more than one occasion to respect the storm-fiend. One night,
while a fearful gale was raging, a huge mass of rock was torn away from
the islet, snatched by the waves, and thrown high into the air. It
fell with terrific force upon the dome of the lantern, splintering the
roof and smashing the light, so that no welcome rays could be thrown
from the tower again that night. The keepers at once set to work with
the fog-signal, and during the hours of darkness worked like slaves,
blaring out a warning by sound which they were unable to give visually.

Fortunately, such an experience as befell the keepers of the American
Thimble Shoal light is very rare. This beacon marks the shoal of that
name, and is, or rather was, a screw-pile iron lighthouse, marking 11
feet of water at the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, U.S.A. On
December 27, 1909, the keepers were immersed in their tasks, when there
was a terrible crash followed by a dismal rending and splitting. The
building shivered from top to bottom. The keepers were thrown off their
feet, and when they regained their wits they found that the schooner
_Malcolm Baxter Junior_, while being towed by a tug, had blundered into
them, and had carried a considerable portion of the building away. The
impact upset the light; the scattered oil burst into flame, and within
a few minutes the lighthouse was blazing like a gigantic bonfire. The
keepers stuck to their posts, and endeavoured frantically to extinguish
the outbreak, but their efforts were too puny to make any impression.
At last, when a foothold was no longer possible with safety, and under
extreme pressure, they abandoned their charge. When the flames had
completed their destructive work the lighthouse presented a sorry
sight, being a mass of broken and twisted ironwork. A wooden tower was
erected with all despatch, and a fog-signal was installed, so that the
men could carry on their duties while the reconstruction of the station
was hurried forward.

The keepers turn their hands to strange occupations. Fretwork,
wood-carving, poker-work, and similar hobbies, are practised freely.
A few devote their leisure to intellectual improvement to fit them
for other walks in life. The keeper of Windward Point, Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, devoted his energies to studying, and obtaining diplomas
in, mechano-therapy and suggestive therapeutics, as well as becoming
proficient in Esperanto. The keepers of two other American lights set
themselves to the mastery of jurisprudence, and in due course resigned
their positions and rented offices in the city, where in the course of
a few years they built up very remunerative legal practices. As a rule
the lighthouse-keeper is an expert handy-man, as he is compelled to
complete a whole list of duties in addition to maintaining the lights.
In the summer the metal and wooden lights have to be given a coat of
paint, while plumbing and other displays of skill in metal have to be
carried out, even if only temporarily.

The calling is exceedingly healthy, which accounts for the immunity
from illness which these men enjoy. Also, as a rule, the land-lights
are set amidst wild romantic surroundings. Some years ago a number of
American families, in the search for a quiet, health-restoring rest,
were in the habit of spending their vacations at lighthouses, to the
financial profit of the keepers. Eventually, however, the authorities,
fearing that the keeper might be distracted from his duties, issued a
summary order forbidding this practice, much to the disgust of the men,
and “attractive lighthouse apartments” became a thing of the past. In
Great Britain an order was issued that “no ale or other intoxicating
liquor be allowed to be sold in any lighthouse.” The precise reason for
this strange ordinance is not quite clear, but it is significant to
note that it came into force immediately after the disastrous fire at
the Leasowe lighthouse, on the Wirral shore.

The lighthouse invariably is an object of attraction among the general
public, but this interest seldom goes to the length narrated by a
keeper of one of the West Indian lights. One night two of the men at
this particular station decided to hunt for red crabs on the beach
below. They started off with a hurricane lamp, but were astonished,
when they gained the foreshore, to see a large sloop hard and fast
on the reef, although the night was beautifully clear and the light
was burning brilliantly. With much effort the keepers got out their
dory, put off to the wreck, and endeavoured to get the sloop out of
her uncomfortable position, but, finding her too well fixed, took off
the passengers. The survivors were housed in the keepers’ quarters
until next morning, when they were succoured. The head-keeper asked the
captain how he managed to get into such a position, and to his surprise
learned that, as the passengers were anxious to obtain a clear close
view of the light, the master had stood inshore, not knowing that the
reef over which vigil was mounted ran out far into the water. That
navigator paid dearly for his attempt to satisfy curiosity. His sloop
broke up, since she was impaled too firmly to be salvaged.

It is not often that the utter loneliness and monotony of the daily
round unhinges a keeper’s mind, but this awful fate overtook the warden
of a somewhat isolated American light. The man had served with Admiral
Dewey off Manila, and upon his return home the Government placed him in
charge of a station as an occupation for the evening of his life, and
as a recompense for faithful service. He settled down with his wife and
family, but the isolation soon began to affect his brain. For days he
would absent himself from the light, which would soon have failed had
it not been for the unswerving devotion of his wife and the assistance
of one of two friends living in the locality. They spared no effort
to keep the beacon burning, lest the authorities might hear about
the keeper’s strange behaviour, and deprive him of his charge, and,
incidentally, of his livelihood. In due course the incident did reach
the authorities, and, not knowing what was the matter with the man,
they took action accordingly. As the keeper entered the station after
one of his inexplicable expeditions of a fortnight’s duration, he was
arrested for desertion. He was examined promptly by two doctors, who
found him hopelessly insane, and was incarcerated in an asylum, where
in the course of a few days he became a raving lunatic.

Often the keepers, although only condemned to imprisonment for a
certain period at a time, have to tolerate a longer stay, owing to
the relief-boat being unable to approach them. In some instances the
delay may run into five weeks or more. During the winter the relief of
the Eddystone, Longships, Wolf, Fastnet, Skerryvore, and Dhu-Heartach
lights is always a matter of extreme uncertainty. Although the men
have to provide themselves with supplies, a reserve is maintained at
the station by the authorities for such emergencies. Even some of the
land stations are not approachable readily. There is the Punta Gorda
light-station on the Californian coast, the situation of which is wild
and forbidding. There is a landing about eight miles above the station,
but it is extremely precarious. Still, unless a certain element of risk
is accepted in coming ashore here, it is necessary to face a tramp or
stage journey of nearly fifty miles across country in order to gain the
lighthouse.

The lighthouses in the Red Sea are, perhaps, among the most unenviable
and trying in the world. This stretch of water, lying between two
blistered coasts of sand, is no more or less than an oven, where even
the strongest constitution finds it difficult to hold out for long.
Moreover, the absence of civilization, owing to the extreme aridity of
the country, renders the life exceptionally depressing. In the summer
the heat is wellnigh intolerable. The thermometer hovers between 95°
and 110° F. in the shade throughout the twenty-four hours, so that
night brings no relief to the oppressiveness.

At some of the stations the men seek a little diversion, and
incidentally add occasionally to their pocket-money, by shark-catching,
which is a tolerably profitable pursuit, since these waters are thickly
infested with this fish. The jawbone and backbone invariably find ready
purchasers, the former being mounted as a curiosity, while the backbone
forms a novel and serviceable walking-stick.

One method of trapping these monsters which affords keen delight was
related to me. The requirements are an electric battery, some rope, a
few feet of electric wire, a cartridge, and an empty box, with a chunk
or two of bad meat. The cartridge is fitted with an electric primer,
the wire of which stretches to the battery. This cartridge is buried
in a hunk of meat, the whole being dangled from a box--an empty cask is
better--which serves as a float, while a rope is stretched from the box
to the shore, with the electric wire spirally wound round it. A short
length of chain is preferable, if available, to attach the bait to the
float, but a short piece of rope will do. This novel line is thrown
into the water, and the man keeps his eye on the float, with one finger
on the battery. The hungry shark, espying the tempting morsel, makes a
grab and swallows it, but the chain prevents him tearing away with it.
The pull causes the float to disappear, the man’s finger presses the
button, and the trick is done. There is an explosion, and pieces of
shark and showers of water fly into the air. The incident is all over
too quickly for the fish to marvel about the strange indigestibility
of the tainted meat he grabbed so greedily. The men enjoy this sport
hugely when it can be followed, as they regard the shark with intense
detestation.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of the “Syren and Shipping.”_

KEEPER CLEANING THE LAMP AFTER IT HAS COOLED DOWN.]

Despite the vigilance of the various Powers, slave-running is still a
lucrative business on these forbidding coasts. Now and again a forced
labourer gets away from his taskmaster, and comes panting into the
lighthouse territory. This is sanctuary to the hapless wretch, and
although the keepers invariably receive a call from the runaway’s
master, he meets with scant courtesy, while his demand for the
surrender of the fugitive is answered by a point-blank refusal. The
slave-driver may storm, threaten, and abuse, to his heart’s content,
and, as he is generally a past-master in Arabian invective, the
keepers have to listen to a pretty tune. But the slave is kept in the
lighthouse until the relief-tender makes its periodical call, when he
is taken back to Suez and liberated.

Fortunately, owing to the extreme care that is manifested by the
authorities, mishaps at a lighthouse are few and far between. The
men are supplied with rules and regulations which are drawn up with
an eye for every possible emergency. Yet accidents will happen, due
in the majority of instances to familiarity bred of contempt. The
majority of these calamities occur in connection with the explosive
fog-signalling apparatus, although every device is adopted to safeguard
the men. At one of the Scottish stations a keeper was manipulating
the fog-signal, but, flying in the face of instructions, he caused
the charge to explode prematurely. The man escaped injury, but the
detonation shattered several panes of glass in the lantern.

One of the keepers of the Rathlin light, on Altacarry Head, was not so
fortunate. The White Star Canadian liner _Megantic_ was rounding the
corner of Ireland to enter the last lap of the homeward journey one
Saturday evening, when the captain’s attention was arrested by a signal
of distress flying from the lighthouse. The interpretation of the
signal revealed the fact that a doctor was wanted, so, easing up the
ship, he lowered a boat, and the doctor was sent away to the island.
Upon landing he found one of the men in dire straits. He had been
cleaning the fog-gun, when a charge, which had been left in the weapon
inadvertently upon the last occasion it was used, exploded. The man’s
arm had been wrenched off, and he was burned terribly. It was a stroke
of luck that the liner hove in sight at the moment she did. There was
no chance of extending succour to the injured man on the spot, and he
would have died before a doctor could have been summoned by boat from
Ballycastle, nine miles away. The surgeon bound up the man’s injuries,
lowered him into his boat, and, on regaining the liner, placed him
in the hospital, where he was tended until the vessel’s arrival in
Liverpool, where he was landed and placed in hospital.

[Illustration:

            _By permission of “Syren and Shipping.”_

A LIGHTHOUSE BEDROOM.

Owing to the limited space the furniture is reduced to the minimum, the
bunks being built against the wall.]

More remarkable was the accident which happened at the Flannen Islands
light-station in 1900; it remains an unsolved mystery to this day. This
is one of Scotland’s lonely lights, mounting guard over a group of
islets fifteen miles off the Hebrides. On December 26 the relief-tender
approached the station on her usual fortnightly visit, but, to the
amazement of those on board, no signs of the keepers or the usual
signals were to be seen, while the lantern was not dressed in its
daylight garb. The crew landed hurriedly, wondering what was amiss.
They found the lighthouse absolutely deserted; not a sign of any of the
three keepers was to be seen or heard. They examined the log, and found
that the light had not been burning for some days, the last entry being
made about 4 a.m. nearly a week previously. The rock was searched, but
yielded no clue to the mystery of the complete disappearance of the
men. The light had not been abandoned; it had simply burned itself out.
It was a fortunate circumstance that very little shipping frequents
these seas during the winter, or there would have been one or two
marine disasters, as the islands are often wrapped in fog.

It is surmised that one of the men ventured outside on to a rocky ledge
in the early hours of the morning. According to the log, a vicious
storm was raging at the time, and probably in the darkness the man was
swept off his feet and carried into the sea. The second keeper on duty,
marvelling at the non-return of his assistant, evidently had roused his
other companion, and the two had instituted a search in the storm, only
in turn to be caught by a wave and carried away.

In Great Britain, since 1860, men only have been employed by the
Trinity House Brethren for the maintenance of the lights, but in
the United States women still are engaged in this duty. Some of the
British lights have been controlled by one family through two or
three generations. It was only a few years ago that a Darling retired
from the vigil on the Longstones of Farne Islands, the scene of Grace
Darling’s heroism, while for a century and a half one family kept the
South Foreland light faithfully. The Casquets light off Alderney, in
the Channel Islands, was maintained by one family, some of the children
spending the whole of their lives on the rock, son succeeding father at
the post of duty.

On the American coast, however, women are more extensively employed.
Seeing that many of the lights are burned in a low tower projecting
from the dwelling-house, this circumstance may be readily understood,
as the duties beyond the maintenance of the light are not exacting.
One of the most notable instances, however, is the Point Pino light
at the entrance to Monterey Bay, on the Californian coast, the
guardianship of which has been in feminine hands for the past thirty
years. For something approaching half a century a woman maintained the
Michigan City harbour light on the Great Lake of that name. Indeed,
the associations were so deep-rooted and long that the beacon became
popularly known as “Miss Colfax’s light,” after the name of its keeper.
Even when she attained the age of eighty years she was as active and
attentive to her charge as on the day, in 1861, when she first assumed
responsibility for its safe-keeping.

In those times there was a beacon established on the end of the wooden
pier, which railed off an area of the restless lake for the purposes of
the inland port. Those were strenuous days. Her home was on shore, and
every night and morning she tramped the long arm of woodwork to light
and extinguish the lamp. Lard-oil was used, and during the winter the
food for the lamp had to be heated to bring it into a fluid condition
before she set out from home. It was no easy matter struggling along on
a blusterous, gusty evening, with a pail of hot oil in one hand and a
lamp in the other, over a narrow plank. Often, when a gale was raging,
progress was so slow that by the time the beacon was reached the oil
had cooled and congealed, rendering it a difficult matter to induce
the lamp to burn. Once set going, however, it was safe for the night,
as the heat radiated from the burner kept the lard melted. In addition
to this lamp, there was another light in the tower projecting from the
roof of her house, which had to be maintained, and this, being the main
light, was the more important of the two.

In 1886 the pier tower was taken out of her hands for ever. A furious
gale, such as is peculiar to these inland seas, and which cannot be
rivalled on the ocean for fury, was raging. At dusk she started on her
usual journey. Time after time she was wellnigh swept off her feet, so
that she staggered rather than walked, for the spray and sand flecking
her face nearly blinded her. When she gained the tower she paused, and
observed that it was trembling violently. Undismayed, she ascended, lit
the light, and tramped back to the shore. Scarcely had she gained the
mainland, when, glancing seawards, she saw the light sway from side
to side for a second or two, and then make a dive into the water. A
few moments later a crash reverberated above the noise of the storm:
the decrepit pier had succumbed at last. Hers was a lucky escape, but
she hurried home, and sat by the main light gleaming from her roof all
that night, apprehensive that some vessel might endeavour to make the
harbour and come to grief. When the pier was rebuilt, a new beacon
was placed on its extremity, but its upkeep was taken over by the
harbour authorities, leaving only the shore light in the trusty woman’s
keeping, the wicks of which for over forty years were trimmed and lit
at dusk, and extinguished with the dawn, with her own hands.

During the migratory season of the birds extraordinary sights are
witnessed around the light at night. The brilliant glare attracts
enormous flocks, which flit to and fro. As the monster flaming spoke
swings round, the birds, evidently blinded by the glare, dash with such
fury against the glass panes of the lantern as to flutter to the floor
of the gallery with broken necks and wings, while large numbers, dazed
or killed, fall into the water. The birds are of all species, and at
times may be picked up by the basketful. Then the light-keepers are
able to secure a welcome change in their dietary. Moths, too, often
hover in clouds round the light, and are of such variety that an hour
on the gallery would bring infinite delight and rich harvests to the
youthful entomologist who has to be content to hunt around electric
lamps in quiet streets at night.

While the lamp is burning, time cannot drag, owing to the multitude
of details which compel the keeper’s constant attention. The official
log has to be kept posted with a host of facts, such as temperature,
barometric readings, weather conditions as they vary from hour to
hour, behaviour of the lamps, etc.; while, when the lighthouse is
a marine signal-station as well, passing ships have to be signalled
and reported. The spell of labour varies from four to five hours or
more. Obviously, the task is more exacting and arduous in the winter
than in summer. During the former season the lamps have to be lighted
as early as 3.15 p.m., and are not extinguished until eight o’clock
the next morning. In the summer, on the other hand, the lamps may be
required for less than six hours or so. In northern latitudes where the
daylight is continuous owing to the midnight sun, the light scarcely
seems necessary. Yet it is kept burning during the scheduled hours of
darkness.

Thus, night in and night out the whole year round, a comparatively
small band of faithful toilers keeps alert vigil over the dangers of
the deep, for the benefit of those who “go down to the sea in ships,
and do their business in great waters.” The safety of thousands of
human lives and of millions sterling of merchandise is vested in
their keeping. The resources of the shipbuilder, the staunchness of
the ship, the skill and knowledge of the captain--all would count for
nothing were it not for the persistent, steady glare of the fixed,
the twinkling of the occulting, or the rhythmic, monotonous turning
spokes of the revolving light, thrown over the waste of waters from the
lighthouse and the lightship.



INDEX


  Aberbrothock, Abbot of, 96

  Acetylene: as illuminant, Daléngas, 49, 274;
    systems for floating lighthouses, 238, 278, 285-95;
    cost of lighting by, 282;
    dissolved, French system of using, 291;
    use in Sweden, 291-94

  Acetylene gun, the, 68-71

  Admiralty, the: adoption of the siren, 60-61;
    use of the Wigham light, 296

  Adriatic shoreline, 203

  “Aga” principle of lighting, 274, 277, 291, 293;
    adopted by the United States, 294-95

  Ailly, Pointe d’, 303

  Ailsa Crag, system of fog-signalling, 63-65, 66

  Alaska: trade of, 173;
    controlled by the Lighthouse Board, 206;
    unattended lighthouses, 277;
    coastline 284

  Alderney coastline, 12-13

  Alexander, Lieutenant B. S., the Minot’s ledge-light, 8, 179

  Alexandria, Pharos of, 2-3

  Allerton Point lighthouse, 6

  Altacarry Head, 313

  Ambrose Channel, 251

  American Thimble Shoal lighthouse, 308

  Amour Point light, 169

  Anderson, Lieutenant-Colonel William P., 172, 174, 217

  _Anglo-Saxon_, Allan liner, wreck, 163-64

  Anticosti, 171

  Antifer, Cap d’, lighthouse, 39

  Antipodes, the, 239

  Arbroath, 97

  Arena Point, 204

  Argand burner, the, 47, 55, 79, 219

  Argyll, Duke of, 115;
    lays foundation-stone of Skerryvore, 105

  Ar-men light, Finisterre, 20-24

  Arthur, Port, 214, 217

  _Assyrian_, the, wreck, 164

  Astoria, 13, 185, 188, 193

  Auckland coastline, 236, 237, 238
    harbour, 238
    Islands, 239

  Auer, Dr. von, the incandescent mantle, 47-48

  Australia: lighthouses of, 229-39;
    unattended lighthouses, 283

  Austria, lighthouses, 48


  Bache, General Hartmann, 63;
    Brandywine Shoal light, 200-201

  “Back lights,” 20

  Ballantyne, A., the Tillamook Rock lighthouse, 185-95

  Ballycastle, 313

  Baltic Sea, unattended lighthouses of the, 274, 278, 291

  Bar lightship, Mersey, 240

  Barnard, General, the Minot’s Ledge light, 178-82

  Barra Head, 113

  Barra Island, 113

  Barsier rock, 269

  Bauld Cape light, 169

  “Bay of the Dead,” Finisterre, 21, 22

  Beachy Head lighthouse, 24-27, 94

  Belfast, 306

  Bell Rock lighthouse, 9;
    lighting, 53;
    fog-signals, 59;
    the reef, 96-97

  Bell-buoys, 68

  Belle Ile, 51;
    the beacons, 169;
    the Northern light, 170-71;
    the Southern light, 169;
    the auxiliary light, 169-70;
    isolation of, 171

  Belle Ile, Straits of, 162, 163, 169

  Bells: on lighthouses, 58;
    submarine, 249-50

  Biscay, Bay of, gales, 3-4

  Bishop Rock lighthouse, 38, 51, 81-87

  Black Prince, the, in Gascony, 4

  Black Sea, lighthouses on the, 18-19

  Blau liquid gas, 48-49

  “Blowing-holes,” 62-63

  Bluff, the, 236

  Bois Blanc Island, 211

  Bordeaux, trade of, 3-4

  Boston Harbour: lighting, 6, 33-4, 196;
    Minot’s Ledge light, 176-82

  Bothnia, Gulf of, unattended lighthouses, 268, 274

  Bounty Islands, 239

  Bourdelles, M., investigations, 56, 219

  Brandywine Shoal light, 200-201

  Brebner, Alexander, 117

  “Breeches-buoy,” used at Tillamook Rock, 187-89

  Bréhat, Heaux de, Reynaud’s tower, 149-53

  Bréhat, Isle of, 149

  Bremerhaven, 132, 138, 139, 141

  Brett, Cape, lighthouse, 238

  Brewster, Sir David, lighting methods, 29

  Bridges and Roads, Department of, 148

  Bristol Channel: the Flat Holme light, 7;
    unattended lighthouses, 278-79

  British Columbia coastline, 284

  Brittany coastline, 148

  Brothers light, the, 234-35

  Bull Rock lighthouse, 39

  Bullivant cableways, 25-26

  Bungaree Norah. _See_ Norah Head

  Buoys: bell and whistle, 68;
    gas-buoys, 244;
    the Willson, 286-89;
    combined light and whistling, 290

  Büsun, 226

  Byron Bay, 232

  Byron Cape, 232


  Cabrillo Point light, 205

  Calf Rock light, 123

  California coastline, 204

  Campbell, General, 270

  Campbell Island, 239

  Canadian Marine Department, 8;
    systems of building, 18-19;
    fog-signalling apparatus, 66-68;
    lighting of the coastline, 161-75;
    lighting of the Great Lakes, 208-17;
    floating lighthouses, 286

  Caribou Island lighthouse, 216-17

  Carmel Head, 94

  Carolina, North, 240

  Carrington, W. H. T., 25

  Casquets lighthouse: the approach to, 12-13;
    keepers of the, 314

  Castle Point lighthouse, 238

  Casuarina Island, 55

  Catoptric system of lighting, 28

  Centre Island lighthouse, 237

  Chance Bros. and Co.: systems of lighting, 33, 36, 42, 55, 256;
    the hyperradiant method, 38-39;
    lenses, 40;
    clockwork mechanism, 43-44;
    the incandescent mantle, 48;
    works carried out by, 53, 222

  Channel Islands coastline, 269

  Charles, Cape, 200

  Chatham Island, 239

  _Chauffer_, the, 4-6

  Chesapeake Bay lights, 199, 200, 308

  Chicken Rock light, 9, 94, 238

  China, coast-lighting, 258-59

  Clear, Cape, 121

  Coffin Island, 171

  Cohasset Rocks, 177

  Colchester Reef lighthouse, 210, 216

  Colfax: “Miss Colfax’s light,” 315-16

  Collinson, Sir Richard, rocket system invented by, 58-59

  “Colossus,” the Rothersand caisson, 138-9

  Colton family, the, 170

  Columbia River, 183, 184, 185

  Colza oil as illuminant, 46, 47

  Concrete, reinforced, use of, 18, 174

  Cook’s Strait, 233, 234, 237

  Cordouan, rocks of, 4

  Cordouan, Tour de, 4-5, 30

  Cornish plunderers of the Wolf Rock, 88

  Corunna lighthouse, 3

  Couedie, Cap de, lighthouse, 55

  Courtenay, whistling device, 290

  Creach, electric light at, 156


  Daboll, C. L., invention of the trumpet fog-signal, 59, 60

  Dalén, Gustaf: the sun-valve, 49;
    system of lighting, 274, 275, 291;
    unattended lights, 269;
    honour for, 291 note;
    experiments, 292-93

  Danger Point, 230

  Darling, Grace, 95, 314

  Daudet, Alphonse, “Phares de Sanguinaires,” 93

  Delaware Bay, 143, 199, 200

  Denmark, coastline, lighting, 48

  Detroit River, Lower, 208

  “Deviline” toy whistle, 61

  Dewey, Admiral, 310

  Dhu-Heartach lighthouse, 9, 107, 113-20, 311

  Diamond Shoal, dangers of, 205-6;
    the lightship, 251-53

  “Diaphone,” the, 67, 68, 165

  Dieppe, 303-304

  Differential arc, use of, 227-28

  Dioptric system of lighting, 37, 220

  Disappointment Cape lighthouse, 186

  Distances, table of, 52

  “Divergence,” 39

  Dog Island lighthouse, 237

  Doty burner, the, 238

  “Double-shell” principle of construction, 200

  Douglass, Sir James: design for the new Eddystone, 78-80;
    preservation of the Bishop Rock, 86-87;
    system of lighting, 223

  Douglass, William, and the Fastnet, 123

  Dover Harbour lightship, 245

  Dover, the pharos at, 3

  Doyle Fort, 271-74

  _Drummond Castle_, wreck, 148

  Dues, lighthouse, 4, 7, 239

  Duluth, 214

  Duncansby Head, 108

  Dunedin, N.Z., 236

  Dungeness light, 94

  Dunkirk, 249


  Earraid, 115, 116

  East Cape, N.Z., 236

  East Indies Archipelago, 257

  Eddystone lighthouse: lighting of, 38, 41, 55;
    fog-signals, 59;
    description, 72, 82;
    the Winstanley construction, 73-4;
    John Rudyerd’s lighthouse, 74, 75, 94;
    Smeaton’s work, 75, 78, 80;
    the Douglass tower, 78-80;
    keepers of, 311

  “Eddystones,” 72

  Edinburgh, Duke of, 79

  Egmont, Cape, 233

  Electricity: as luminant, 50-51, 148, 218, 295-96;
    used in operation of derrick, 159

  _Eider_ lightship, 249

  Erie, Lake, 208, 216

  Estevan Point light, 174


  Fair Isle lighthouse, 39

  “Family of Engineers (A),” 8-9

  Faraday, Professor, 218

  Farallon Beacon, 205

  Farallon Isles, fog-signalling on, 63

  Farne Islands, 95, 314

  Faro, the, 3

  Fastnet lighthouse, 121-31;
    lighting, 41;
    keepers, 311

  Ferro-concrete, use in construction, 18-19

  _Feu-éclair_, the, 56

  Finisterre, Cape, 3;
    the Ar-men light, 20-24

  Fire Island lighthouse, 250

  Fire Island lightship, 240, 242, 250

  Fisher’s Island Sound, 203

  Flamborough Head light, 95

  Flannen Islands lighthouse, 9, 113;
    disappearance of keepers, 313-14

  Flat Holme light, the, 7

  Florida coastline, 201

  “Focal point,” 39

  Fog-signals: discharge of guns, 57-58;
    rockets, 58-59;
    explosion of gun-cotton, 59;
    the Daboll trumpet, 59-60;
    the siren, 60-62;
    blowing-holes, 62-63;
    installation on Ailsa Crag, 63-66;
    diaphone on Ailsa Crag, 66-68;
    the acetylene gun, 68-71;
    diaphone at Cape Race, 165;
    Belle Ile diaphone, 170

  Foix, Louis de, 4-5, 8

  _Forfarshire_, the, 95, 314

  Forteau Bay, 169

  Forth, Firth of, lighthouses in, 7, 218-19

  Fourteen Foot Bank, 132, 143-47

  Foveaux Strait, 237

  Fowey Rocks lights, 201-3

  French coast: lighting of, 148;
    lightships, 243, 249

  French Lighthouse Commission (1811), 29

  Fresnel, Augustin: system of lighting, 28, 33, 286;
    adopted by the United States, 36


  Gap Rock lighthouse and signal-station, 264

  Gas Accumulator Company, of Stockholm, 49, 274, 291

  Gas as illuminant, the incandescent mantle, 47-48

  Gasfeten tower, 274

  Gedney’s Channel, lighting of, 295-96

  General Superintendent of Lights, office of, 197-98

  Georgian Bay, 216

  Gerholmen light-boat, 294

  Germany: coastline of, lighting, 48, 50-51;
    the lightship service, 249-50

  Gironde lighthouse, 19

  Gironde, the, rocks of the estuary, 3-4

  Goodwin Sands, 205, 240, 244-45, 248

  Grand Banks, the, 163

  Grande Braye Rock, 296

  Grand Trunk Pacific, 173

  Granite, use of, 18

  Great Lakes of North America: lighting of the, 27, 173, 208-17;
    Lighthouse Board, control of, 206;
    floating lighthouses, 286

  Green Cape lighthouse, 232-33

  “Grouting,” 27

  Guantanamo Bay, 308

  Guernsey coast lighthouse, 9, 16;
    unattended lights, 269

  Gun-cotton, explosion of, 58, 59


  Halifax Harbour: lights, 192;
    the “Outer Automatic,” 290

  Halpin, George, the Fastnet lighthouse, 121-23, 129

  Hand Deeps, 79

  Hanois lighthouse, 16

  Hargreaves, Riley and Co., 260

  Harkort, Society of, Duisburg, 133-34:
    the Rothersand contract, 136-43

  Hatteras, Cape: coastline, 147, 251-53;
    sandbanks, 205-6, 240

  Hauraki Gulf, 238

  Hawaiian Islands, 206

  Hebrides, lighthouses of the, 112, 313

  Heligoland lighthouse, 133, 218;
    use of the rocket system, 59;
    the electric installation, 224-26

  Hellespont, Sigeum lighthouse, 2

  Henlopen Cape, light, 199

  Hennebique system, 260

  Henry, Cape, lighthouse, 20, 199-200

  Héve, Cape, lighthouse, 218, 219

  _Hinemoa_, New Zealand Government steamer, 235, 236, 238

  Hoheweg lighthouse, 138

  Hole-in-the-Wall, Vancouver, 174

  Holland coastline, 48

  Holmes, Professor, fog-horns, 60-62, 64, 66, 218

  Holophotal revolving apparatus, 33

  Hong-Kong, 264

  “Hoo-doo,” 91

  Horaine, plateau of, 153-56

  Horn, Cape, 268

  Hornum light, the electric installation, 226-28

  Howe, Cape, 230, 232

  _Huddart Parker_, liner, wreck, 236

  Hudson Bay coastline, 268

  Hugo, Victor, “The Toilers of the Sea,” 269

  Hunting Island tower, South Carolina, 19-20

  Huron, Lake, 211

  Hynish harbour, 107

  “Hyperradiant,” the, 37, 41;
    the quicksilver trough, 42-43


  “Ice-breakers,” 201

  “Ice-stoves,” 200-201, 210

  Inchcape. _See_ Bell Rock

  Ingrey, Charles, scheme for Ailsa Crag, 64, 66

  Invercargill, 237

  Iona, 100

  Ireland, Congested Districts Board beacons, 282-83

  Irish lights, Commissioners of, 7;
    the Fastnet, 123, 127

  Iron, use in construction, 19-20

  Islay, 298


  Jamaica coastline, lighting, 283

  Japan, coastline, lighthouses, 9-10, 257-58

  Java, 257

  Jersey coastline, 243

  Jument of Ushant, 156, 160


  Karachi, unattended light, 281

  Kavanagh, James, the Fastnet, 125, 128

  “Kingdom of Heaven,” 92


  Labrador coastline, 169, 268

  Lagerholmen lighthouse, 278

  Lampaul, Bay of, 157

  Land’s End coastline, 247

  Lard-oil as fuel, 46, 47

  Leasowe lighthouse, 16;
    fire at, 309

  Lenses, preparation, 39, 40

  Lewes, Delaware, 144

  Lewis, Isle of, 113

  Lewis, Winslow, invention of, 34, 35

  “Light-boats,” 294

  Lighthouse Board, U.S.A., 178-79

  Lighthouse dues, origin, 4, 7;
    levy of, 7, 239

  Lighthouse Literature Mission, 306

  Lighthouses, construction of, 174;
    wooden towers, 198;
    electric, of the world, 218-28;
    unattended, 267-83;
    floating, 284-300

  Lighting: candles, 33;
    Fresnel system, 28-33;
    holophotal revolving apparatus, 33;
    hyperradiants, 33-41;
    sperm-oil, 46;
    colza-oil, 46-47;
    lard-oil, 46, 47;
    petroleum, 47-48, 296-98;
    paraffin, 47-48;
    oil-gas, 48-49, 296;
    various gases, 49-50;
    electric lighting, 50-51, 148, 295-96;
    acetylene system, 69-71, 238, 291

  Light-keepers, life of the, 301-17

  Lights: wood or coal in open braziers, 28;
    tallow candles, 28;
    indentification of, 32;
    classification of, 37, 44-45;
    “divergence,” 39;
    focal point, 39;
    white and coloured, 45-46;
    candle-power, 51, 53;
    subsidiary, 53-55;
    duration of flash in revolving, 55-56

  Lightships: the Stevenson unattended, 70;
    maintenance of, 240-41;
    description, 241-42;
    the Minquiers light, 243-44;
    average crew for, 244-45;
    incidents, 244-55;
    illuminating apparatus, 255-57

  “Light valve,” the Dalén, 275-78

  Lipson’s Reef, 55

  Little Brewster Island lighthouse, 196-197

  Lizard Head, 72, 82, 94

  Lizard lighthouse, 94, 218

  Lloyd’s, signalling-station at the Fastnet, 131

  Longfellow, lines to Minot’s Ledge light, 176

  Longships light, 82, 92, 311

  Longstones lighthouse, 95, 314

  Louis XIV. and the Eddystone, 75

  Lundy Island, 92

  _Lupata_, sailing-ship, wreck, 183

  _Lusitania_, French emigrant steamer, wreck, 164

  _Ly-ce-moon_, steamer, wreck, 233


  Mackinac, Strait of, 211

  Macquarie, tower, 231

  Magellan, Straits of, 268;
    unattended lighthouses, 274-75

  Malacca Straits lighthouse, 257;
    One Fathom Bank, 259-64

  Malay Peninsula, 257

  _Malcolm Baxter Junior_, schooner, collision with the lighthouse, 308

  Man, Isle of, Chicken Rock light, 94

  Manacles, wrecks on the, 7

  Manilla, 310

  Manora breakwater, the Wigham light, 281

  Manora Point light, Karachi, 39-41

  Maria Van Diemen, Cape, lighthouse, 237, 238

  Marine and Fisheries, Department of, Canada, 171

  Marine Department, New Zealand, 233

  Matthews, Sir Thomas, 26;
    light designed by, 278-79, 299

  May, Isle of, lighthouse, 7, 218-23

  _Megantic_, White Star liner, 313

  Meldrum, Sir John, the North Foreland lighthouse, 81

  Mendocino, Cape, lighthouse, 204-5

  Ménier, Henri, 171

  Mercury float, the, 42, 43, 56

  Meriten (De), dynamos, 221, 223

  Mersey lightship, 240

  Mew Island lighthouse, 38, 41

  Mexico, Gulf of, coastline, 201

  Michigan City Harbour light, 315-16

  Michigan Lake, lighting of, 208, 211, 214, 215, 217

  Minches, the, 112, 113

  _Minnehaha_, wreck of the, 82, 83

  Minot’s Ledge light, 11, 74, 204;
    Captain Swift’s tower, 176-78;
    General Barnard’s structure, 178-82

  Minquiers lightship, 243-44

  _Mohegan_ wreck, 7

  Moko Hinou, 238

  Monach Island light, 113

  “Monolithic” method of construction, 16-19

  Montagu Island lighthouse, 30-31

  Monterey Bay, 315

  Morocco, Cape Spartel light, 207

  Moye system of lighting, 69

  Muckle Flugga, 109-112

  Mull, Isle of, 102, 115

  Mull of Kintyre, 108

  Murray, Hon. A., 260


  Nantucket Shoals lightship, 250

  Navesink lighthouse, 51, 218

  Needles light, the, 94

  New Jersey coastline, 218

  New London, Connecticut, Race Rock lighthouse, 203-4

  New South Wales, lighthouses of, 230, 231, 232-33

  New York Harbour: lighting, 218, 295;
    lightships, 251

  New Zealand: system of lighting, 33;
    lighthouses of, 229-30, 233-35;
    the lighthouse-keepers, 235;
    unattended lighthouses, 268

  Newfoundland coastline, 162, 169

  Newhaven, 303

  “No. 87” lightship, 251

  Norah Head lighthouse, 232

  Norderney lightship, 242, 249

  Nore lightship, 240, 242, 245

  _Norge_ liner, wreck, 299

  Norman Cape light, 169

  North Cape, New Zealand, lighthouse, 237, 238

  North Foreland light, 81

  North German Lloyd Atlantic liners, 132, 137

  North Island, New Zealand, coastline, 233

  North Ronaldshay lighthouse, 33

  North Unst lighthouse, 9, 109, 110-12

  Northern lighthouses, Commissioners of, 8-10, 37, 63, 64, 94, 96,
          100-02, 105, 109, 114, 219

  North-West lightship (Mersey), 240

  Nova Scotia: Sable Island lighthouse, 166;
    floating lighthouses, 285, 290

  Nuremberg, tests carried out at, 225-26


  Oil-gas, compressed, use of, 48, 296

  One Fathom Bank lighthouse, 259-64

  “One-tenth flash,” 294

  Ontario Lake, 217

  Oregon coastline, 13, 195

  Orkneys coastline, 108, 109

  Otter Rock lightship, 9, 297-99

  Ouessant, Ile d’. _See_ Ushant

  “Outer Automatic,” Halifax Harbour, 290

  Outer Diamond Shoal lightship, 147

  Outer Minot light, 177, 178


  Panama Canal, unattended lighthouses, 277

  “Panels,” system of dividing the light by, 31-32

  Paraffin, use of, 47

  Paris Exhibition of 1867, 61

  _Paris_, wreck of the, 7

  Parry sound, 216

  Patents granted for upkeep of beacons, 5-6

  Pei Yu-Shan lighthouse, 39

  Pencarrow Head lighthouse, 234

  Pentland Firth, 108

  Pentland Skerries light, 109

  Petroleum gas, use of, 47, 48, 279, 296-98

  _Phare_, the term, 3

  _Phares, Service des_, 19, 148, 219

  _Pharos_, constructional vessel, 110

  Pharos, the, Dover, 3;
    of Alexandria, 2-3

  Philippines coastline, 206

  Phœnicians, beacons erected by the, 3

  Pilgrim Fathers, the, and lighthouses, 6

  Pilotage, Board of, Sweden, experiments with acetylene, 292, 293-94

  Pino Point lighthouse, 315

  Pladda, Island of, 64

  Planier lighthouse, 219

  Platte Fougère, land-controlled station of, 269-74, 283

  Pleasanton, Stephen, 197-98

  Plenty, Bay of, 236

  Plymouth Harbour, 72

  Plymouth Hoe, 80

  Poe, General O. M., Spectacle Reef lighthouse, 211-14

  Portland Canal, 173

  Portland, Duke of, lighthouse on the Isle of Man, 7

  Portland stone, used for building Eddystone, 76

  Port of Dublin Corporation, 121

  Potomac, ice-shores of the, 200-201

  Potron, Charles Eugène, generosity of, 157, 159-60

  Prince Rupert, port of, 173, 284

  Pulsometer Engineering Company, Reading, 66

  Punta Gorda light-station, 311

  Puysegur Point, 237


  Queenstown harbour floating light, 297


  Race, Cape, lighthouse, 39, 43;
    the lens, 40-41;
    clockwork mechanism, 43;
    fog-signalling apparatus, 67;
    dangers of, 162-64;
    the first beacon, 164-65;
    the new beacon, 165

  Race Rock lighthouse, 203-4

  Ralph the Rover, 96

  Rame Head, 72

  Rathlin light, 313

  Rattray Briggs lighthouse, 9

  Ray, Cape, 164

  Red Rock lighthouse, 210, 216

  Red Sea lighthouses, 311

  Rennie, John, the Bell Rock light, 97

  Reyes Point, 205

  Reynaud, Léonce, tower on the Heaux de Bréhat, 149-53

  Rhins of Islay, 113

  Ribière, 8

  Rock Island, 124

  Rock of Ages lighthouse, 210, 214-15, 216

  Rockall, the, 299-300

  Rockets, use of, 58-59

  Rose of Mull, the, 113

  Rothersand lighthouse, 11, 218;
    the first attempt, 132-36;
    work of the Society Harkort, 136-43

  Round Island lighthouse, 39

  Royale, Isle, 214

  Rudyerd, John, the Eddystone lighthouse, 74, 75, 92-93

  Russell Channel, the, 269-70

  Russian lighthouse authorities, 18

  Rutingen lightship, 242, 249


  Sable Island, 162;
    description, 165-66;
    lighthouses and chief station, 166-67;
    the west end light, 167-68;
    the east end light, 168

  St. Agnes light, 81

  St. Catherine’s Downs, 223

  St. Catherine’s lighthouse, 55, 94, 218;
    the electric installation, 223-24

  St. Clair, Lake, 208

  St. David’s Head, 92

  St. John’s, Newfoundland, 164

  St. Kilda, 300

  St. Lawrence, Gulf of, 163;
    dangers, 171

  St. Lawrence River:
    fog-signalling apparatus, 66-68;
    entrance, 162;
    the ice, 172;
    lighting of the, 172-73

  St. Malo Harbour, 243

  St. Mary’s, 85

  St. Peter Port lighthouse, 269-70

  Sambro Island lighthouse, 162

  Samoan Islands, American, controlled by the Lighthouse Board, 206

  San Francisco: bay, 63;
    coastline, 205

  Sand, lighthouses built on, 132-47

  Sandbanks, signposts of the, 240-56

  Sandy Hook lighthouse, 199, 295

  Sarnia, 216

  _Salara_, the, wreck, 232-33

  Sault Ste. Marie, 216

  Scammon’s Harbour, 212

  _Schiller_, German packet, wreck of, 86

  Schukert, 225

  Scilly Island, 81, 82, 247

  Scotland: lighting, 50;
    sea-rock lights of, 96;
    the coastline, 108

  _Scotsman_, Dominion liner, 171

  Scott, C. W., and the Fastnet, 123-24, 129

  Scott, Sir Walter, _quoted_, 100, 101

  “Screw-pile lighthouses,” 19, 83, 200-203, 261-62

  Sea-rock lighthouses, construction, 20 _et seq._

  Serrin-Berjot lamps, 221-23

  Seven Hunters. _See_ Flannen Islands

  Seven Stones lightship, 242, 248-49

  Seven Wonders of the world, 2

  Shark-catching, 311-12

  Sherman, General, 211

  Shetlands coastline, 108-109

  Shovel, Sir Cloudesley, 82

  Sigeum lighthouse, on the Hellespont, 2

  Singapore, 257

  Siren, the, developments, 59-60, 159

  Skerries light, 94

  Skerryvore lighthouse, 11, 59, 100-107, 113, 311

  Slave-running, 312

  Slight, Mr., the modern siren, 62

  Smalls, The, 92-93

  Smeaton, John, the Eddystone lighthouse, 8, 75-78, 80

  _Smeaton_, the, 97-99

  Smith, Thomas, 9, 219

  Solent, the, 94

  Sound, aberration of, 68

  South Carolina, lighthouses of, 19-20

  South Foreland lighthouse: lighting, 38, 95;
    electricity adopted, 218-19;
    keepers of the, 314

  South Island, N.Z., coastline, 237

  South Solitary Island lighthouse, 230, 231

  South Stock light, 94

  Southey, ballad of the Bell Rock, 96

  Spain, early beacons, 3

  Spartel Cape lighthouse, 207, 300

  Spectacle Reef lighthouse, 74, 210-14, 215-16

  Sperm-oil, as luminant, 46

  “Spider-web braces,” 201

  Spurn Point lighthouse, 38-39

  Standard Oil Co., 282

  Stannard’s Rock lighthouse, 214, 216

  Start Point, 94

  Stephens Island, 233

  Stevenson, Alan: “Skerryvore,” 9, 100-107;
    improvements in lighting, 32-33;
    table of distances by, 51-52

  Stevenson, Charles, 9

  Stevenson, David, “North Unst,” 9

  Stevenson, David and Charles: the acetylene gun, 68-71;
    the unattended light, 269;
    the Platte Fougère fog-signal, 270-71;
    the Otter Rock light, 297;
    scheme for Rockall, 300

  Stevenson, David and Thomas: works carried out by, 15, 53;
    the Chicken Rock light, 94;
    building of the Dhu-Heartach, 114-20

  Stevenson, family of engineers: preeminence of, 8-10;
    systems of lighting, 36-38;
    adoption of electricity, 219-22;
    work in Japan, 258;
    characteristics, 305

  Stevenson, George, and the Fastnet, 122

  Stevenson, Robert, and the Bell Rock lighthouse, 9, 97-100;
    Skerryvore, 101

  Stevenson, Robert Louis, “A Family of Engineers,” 8-9

  Stevenson, Thomas, 9, 222

  Stewart Island, 237

  Stornoway lighthouse, lighting, 53-54

  Strain, Samuel H., 306

  Subsidiary lights, 53-55

  Suez, 312

  Sugar-Loaf Point lighthouse, 232

  Sule Skerry lighthouse, 9, 39

  Sumatra, 257

  “Sun-valve,” the Dalén, 275-78

  Superior, Lake, lighting of, 214, 216, 217

  Sweden: floating lighthouses, 291;
    unattended lighthouses, 277-82

  Swift, Captain W. H., the Minot’s Ledge light, 176-78, 182

  Sydney lighthouse. _See_ Macquarie Tower


  _Tararua_, steamship, wreck of the, 236, 237

  Tay, Firth of, 96

  Terawhiti, Cape, 238

  Thames lightships, 240-41

  Thomas, O. P., 260

  Three Kings Rock, 236

  Tierra del Fuego, 268

  Tillamook Head, 183

  Tillamook Rock lighthouse, 13-15, 183-95, 204;
    the keepers, 307-8

  Tiri-Tiri Island lighthouse, 236-38

  Torrain Rocks, 113

  Tory Island lighthouse, 39

  Trade, Board of:
    collection of light dues, 7-8;
    and the siren, 61;
    Mr. Ingrey’s scheme, 64;
    adoption of electricity, 219

  Trewavas, John R., death of, 14-15

  Triangle Island, British Columbia, light, 174

  Trinity House Brethren: purchase of patents, 6;
    maintenance of English lights, 7, 26;
    adoption of the Daboll trumpet, 60;
    and the Eddystone, 77;
    and the Wolf Rock, 88-89;
    and the Whiteside light, 93;
    and the Fastnet, 122;
    adoption of electricity, 218, 223;
    the light on the Seven Stones, 248

  Trinity House Museum: Smeaton’s clock, 76-77;
    Bishop Rock fog-bell, 85-86

  _Triumph_, steamship, wreck, 236

  Tyndall, Professor, 59

  Tyree, island of, 100, 102, 105, 107


  United States Corps of Engineers, 63, 198

  United States Lighthouse Board, 13 36, 195;
    coastline lighting, 20, 196-207;
    methods of lighting, 46-47;
    inauguration, 198;
    extent of control 206-7;
    lighting of the Great Lakes, 208-17;
    lightship service, 255;
    adoption of the Aga light, 294-95

  United States Typographical Engineers, 176

  Unst, island of, 112

  Ushant, 148, 156, 157

  Ushant Island, 158


  Vancouver, 173;
    coastline, 284

  Vancouver Island, 174

  Victoria, 173

  _Victoria_, steamer, wreck, 303-4


  Waipapapa Point lighthouse, 236, 237

  Walker, James, 8;
    Bishop Rock light, 84-5

  Wanganui, N.Z., 233

  Water-gas, 48

  Wellington, N.Z., 233-4

  Weser River estuary, 132

  West Indies lighthouses, 309

  White ant, ravages of the, 264-66

  White Shoal lighthouse, 215, 216

  Whiteside light, 92, 93

  Whistles on lighthouses, 58

  Wigham light, 279-280, 282, 296-97

  Willson, Mr. Thomas: the acetylene automatic light, 285-89, 291, 294

  _Winchelsea_, wreck of the, 72, 74

  Windward Point, Cuba, 308

  Winstanley, Henry: the Eddystone lighthouse, 73

  Wireless installation: on the Fastnet, 131;
    station, Sable Island, 167;
    Belle Ile, Southern Point, 170;
    the Eider lightship, 249

  Wirral, 16, 309

  Wolf Rock lighthouse, 14;
    blowing holes, 63, 87-92;
    relief, 311

  Women as lighthouse-keepers, 314-15

  Wrath, Cape, 112

  Wreckers of the Wolf Rock, 88;
    Chinese, 258-59


BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD



Transcriber’s Notes


Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not
changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.

Ditto marks in the Index have been replaced by the actual text.

Empty, featureless areas along the side(s) of some illustrations have
been removed by Transcriber. This allowed those illustrations to be
shown larger and with greater detail.

Page 233: “Ly-ce-moon” likely is a misprint for “Ly-ee-moon”.





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