Zip line operation recovers original lighthouse windows

window glass on zipline

The first load of original 1903 lantern glass is returned to the lighthouse by a 100-foot zip line.

The perfect weather coupled with our hearty all-volunteer team enabled us to recover the original lighthouse lantern glass.

Decades ago, when the lighthouse was being renovated, the Coast Guard thoughtfully stored the historic glass away in the oil house.

But to safely recover the heavy plate glass, we needed to build a 100 foot heavy-duty zip line over the treacherous rocks.

Fingers crossed as the first load is away!

We even recovered the rest of the original oak and brass casement windows from the tower.

Big shout out to Jack, Diana, Wes and Lonnie.

zip line from oil house to lighthouse

Moving the priceless original glass was a complete success. Decades ago, the Coast Guard had carefully stored the glass for safekeeping in the oil house.

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Our volunteer crew takes a well deserved rest on the ledge, and does a little exploring as the tide starts to rise.

The plate glass we recovered were spares to replace the huge, curved panes in the lamp room.

The plate glass we recovered were spares to replace the huge, curved panes in the lamp room.

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Try a Friday lighthouse cruise with FBHI

Boston LightFor a relaxing and informative look at the lighthouses in our beloved harbor, pack your picnic basket for an expertly narrated Boston Harbor Lighthouse Tour.

“This is the only Lighthouse Tour in Boston in 2014,” says Friends of Boston Harbor Islands (FBHI), which sponsors the lighthouse cruise in cooperation with UMass Boston Marine Operations.

“Cruise through Presidents Roads past Deer Island and Long Island Head Lights, and Nix’s Mate before heading out to Graves Light and returning past Boston Light on Little Brewster Island and Fort Warren on Georges Island,” FBHI says.

“See up close the restoration work being done on Boston Light in preparation for its 300th anniversary in 2016,” according to the FBHI promo.

Lighthouse cruise dates are on Fridays: July 18, August 8 and September 12, boarding the MV Columbia Point at 10:45 a.m. from UMass Boston Harbor Campus, Fox Point Pavilion on Dorchester Bay.

The expertly narrated lighthouse cruise does not land on any of the islands, and provides open top deck seating, indoor air-conditioned cabin seating, on a wheelchair accessible vessel. Click here for more or download a brochure: 2014 Boston Islands tour

 

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Vivid lost photos of 1938 shipwreck found

The smokestack of the SS City of Salisbury snaps off as the hull of the wrecked steamer makes its final plunge.

The smokestack of the SS City of Salisbury snaps off as the hull of the wrecked steamer makes its final plunge. The bottom photo was taken minutes earlier. The photographer was aboard a US Coast Guard vessel.

Our unstoppable archivists have recovered dramatic photos of the salvage and sinking of the SS City of Salisbury.

The famous “Zoo Ship” sank 76 years ago today.

Graves Light Station has acquired the historic Associated Press photos of the 1938 shipwreck.  

The vessel wrecked off Graves Ledge in April, its keel broken on an uncharted ledge. The big steamer sank the following month.

Most of the vessel’s cargo of exotic animals from India and Ceylon survived, and all the people on board escaped unharmed.

We have been scouring antique photo collections and old newspaper archives for images of wrecks, rescues and other events around Graves Light, and already had a number of original pictures from the SS City of Salisbury.

The earlier pictures appear on the shipwreck page on this site, and on our posting from last November.

The latest collection of eight original prints are from the Associated Press, acquired from a dealer in Tennessee.

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The smokestack of the SS City of Salisbury snaps off as the hull of the wrecked steamer makes its final plunge.

The smokestack of the SS City of Salisbury snaps off as the hull of the wrecked steamer makes its final plunge.

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Friends of Boston Harbor Islands arranges a nice debut for Graves Light family

Dave at FBHI

Dave Waller addresses the Friends of Boston Harbor Islands at FBHI’s annual event on Long Island, Boston Harbor, May 18, 2014.

The Friends of Boston Harbor Islands put on a fine event to host the new owners of Graves Light Station and help them make their first public debut to the islands community.

The May 18 event, during FBHI’s annual meeting on Long Island in Boston Harbor, featured Dave and Lynn making a presentation about the lighthouse, with Lynn managing the visuals; and Dave’s mother Carol, who had just returned from the Library of Congress in Washington with archival material.

Some of that archival material included news coverage from 100 years ago this summer of the first long-distance swimmers to Graves Light.

Extra seating was required to accommodate the packed house of interested guests.

One of those attending was Dolly Snow Bicknell, daughter of the beloved New England coastal historian and preservationist Edward Rowe Snow.

Dolly Snow Bicknell presents the Graves Light family with a first edition of her father's book, The Lighthouses of New England.

Dolly Snow Bicknell presents the Graves Light family with a first edition of her father’s book, The Lighthouses of New England (1945).

Dolly presented the Graves Light family with an autographed first edition of her father’s book, The Lighthouses of New England, published in 1945. A new edition, edited by our friend Jeremy D’Entremont, is available on Amazon.

In the accompanying photo here, Dolly is seen presenting the book with the page opened to a photo of Graves Light.

The public reception was thrilling.

Friends of Boston Harbor Islands, celebrating its 35th anniversary, served as our enthusiastic host.

Everyone who attended seemed excited to be there and hear the Graves Light family’s story.

Giles Parker, National Park Superintendent of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, sent out a Tweet promoting the event in advance, and Tweeting a picture of Carol, Dave and Lynn at the May 18 event, featuring their presentation hats and bottle of champagne.

Follow Giles on Twitter: @YourIslandPark.

Parker tweet

 

 

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Lots of harbor seal sightings this spring

Seal at Graves croppedHarbor seals are happily out this spring at Graves Ledge, with sightings being reported by our diver friends at Boston Scuba.

We got some pictures of our own this weekend, including this one at low tide of a playful baby seal, the newest seen this year at Graves Ledge.

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50-foot wall of spray breaks over The Graves

Graves storm March 2014 Richard GreenOur friend Richard Green shot this remarkable photograph of a 50-foot wall of spray crashing over The Graves.

The picture, taken with a powerful telephoto lens on March 26, 2014, shows the wall of whitewater extending up half the height of the 113-foot tall lighthouse.

Breakers crash over the granite oil house located 90 feet to the left of the lighthouse.

Graves Ledge and the lighthouse are 4 miles from the mainland, but the telephoto lens draws in the neighboring town as if it was only a few feet away.

The dramatic photo shows why it was so necessary to build the lighthouse back in 1903, to guide mariners past the dangerous stone ledge. Numerous shipwrecks, resulting in loss of life, have been recorded around The Graves.

By the way, Graves Ledge, as The Graves is also called, gets its name from British Rear Admiral Thomas Graves (1605-1653), an early settler of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Contrary to popular myth, The Graves was not named as the graveyard of doomed ships and sailors.

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Secret cave discovered at Graves Light

Secret CaveWhile surveying the masonry today at Graves Light, Mike Sylvester of CCI contracting made an exciting discovery: A secret cave.  You’re looking at the first-ever picture from inside.

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Original architectural drawings discovered at National Archives

Lamp room diagramJust discovered: Copies of the original architectural drawings of Graves Light from 1903.

We’re just going through them now. The US Coast Guard Historian recommended a professional archivist to us, who knows the Coast Guard and US Light House Service records at the National Archives in Washington better than anyone else.

The drawing pictured is of the lamp room and roof. It gives a good idea of what we’ve found so far. Other drawings literally get down to the nuts and bolts.

Almost none of the Graves Light records at the National Archives are imaged electronically. We have hired the professional archivist to digitize everything she can find, and will provide the electronic images to the Coast Guard Historian’s office and to the National Archives.

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Dug out of the archives: Dramatic news photo of Graves Light shipwreck

'Storm administers coup de grace' is the news caption on this original 1938 photo from the archives of the San Francisco Examiner. We acquired the original from the Examiner archives.

‘Storm administers coup de grace’ is the news caption on this original 1938 photo from the archives of the San Francisco Examiner. We acquired the original from the Examiner archives.

The reverse of the 1938 news photo of the 'coup de grace' sinking of the SS City of Salisbury. This International News Photo is an original print from the archives of the San Francisco Examiner.

The reverse of the 1938 news photo of the ‘coup de grace’ sinking of the SS City of Salisbury. This International News Photo is an original print from the archives of the San Francisco Examiner.

While rooting through old news archives, we found an original wire service photo of the sinking of the SS City of Salisbury, with Graves Light in the background.

We don’t mind posting pictures of this wreck, because nobody was hurt. So we’re particularly excited with our new find, which we acquired from the archives of the San Francisco Examiner.

Posted here is the original photo, and an image of the reverse, with the commentary from the International News wire service.

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Cleanup begins

Graves bucketThere’s quite a bit of cleanup work to do at Graves Light, not all of which is visible.

Among the big chores: What to do about the two 1500-gallon cisterns that occupy much of the first 40 feet of the lighthouse.

One of the cisterns held fresh water for the lighthouse keepers. The other one held compressed air for the fog horn, and was later used to store oil or kerosene.

We brought some buckets and rope up to the lighthouse to start cleanup, and found some oil at the bottom of one of the cisterns. We removed the oil in buckets, hauled it to the mainland by boat, and disposed of it safely at an oil recycling site. Now we have to scrub down the interior of the cisterns, break up the oil residue, and we’ll be done.

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