Tag Archives: St. Augustine Lighthouse

The Lamp Changer

Did you know that the Lighthouse can change its own lightbulb? Well, it can and has been doing so for many years now. In 1936, electricity was first brought to the Lighthouse. This meant significant changes for the Lighthouse keepers since they no longer had to carry buckets of kerosene to the top of the lighthouse to burn in the lamp to create the light. Now light bulbs did the work of producing the light! But the keepers still had to stay up all night to make certain that the light bulb didn’t burn out, and that if it did, they were there to replace it.

Carlisle & Finch Lamp Changer in place in the Lighthouse lens room.

Years later, an innovative company in Cincinnati, Ohio came up with an answer to help make life easier for lighthouse keepers – a lamp changer for lighthouses! The Carlisle & Finch Company, the “Global Leader in Spotlight Technology,” specializes in the production of high quality optical products for a range of maritime uses, including within the United States Coast Guard and Navy.

Our lamp changer holds two, 1000-watt bulbs. The one in the center, or primary position (the large bulb on the left), is the operational bulb. The one to the right is in the backup position. If the primary bulb burns out, the electrical circuit is broken, releasing a switch. A spring at the base of the bulb’s housing piece then rotates the backup bulb to the primary position, where it snaps into place and completes the circuit. The backup bulb comes on automatically.

Here, I am holding the lamp (bulb) in the halfway position.

Did you notice that the bulbs look very different? The larger bulb is an historic 1000-watt GE bulb that is no longer made. The smaller bulb is the replacement that GE came out with a few years ago; it is also a 1000-watt bulb. The smaller bulb sits upon a ceramic block that serves two purposes: it dissipates heat so that the bulb lasts longer, and it places the filament at the same height as the older bulbs so that the focal plane of the light shines correctly through the lens. The old bulbs are so old (some dating to WWII) that we don’t know how long they will last, so we always put a new bulb in the backup position. If we used two old bulbs, they might both burn out on the same night, which as St. Augustine’s navigation beacon, would become a crisis situation. We only have a certain number of the old bulbs left, and once they are gone, it will be the end of an era. Our Lighthouse will then have two of the new bulbs in place, and thankfully, if the bulb changer ever wears out, the Carlisle & Finch Company is still in business to help us replace it.

Contributed by Director of Museum Services Rick Cain, edited by Student Intern Jayda Barnes

2016 LAMP Field School is in Full Swing!

The 2016 Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) Field School in Underwater Archaeology is in full swing with a great new group of students!

This is LAMP’s 10th Annual Field School, and is a big year for us, both because of the milestone season, and because we are hosting our largest group of students to date. Over the past two and a half weeks, our 12 students have completed various training exercises around the lighthouse and surrounding area. These include the usual blackout mask obstacle course, used to prepare them for St. Augustine’s low visibility diving….

obstacle course
Traversing the blackout mask obstacle course. Photo by Silvana Kreines

…to training dives in Alexander Springs, where we had the practice basic underwater archaeological methods in clear water, before asking them to perform these same tasks in the aforementioned low visibility. Continue reading

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum Hosts Volunteer Recruiting & Training Session

Volunteers interested in donating their time to preserve and present maritime history are invited to join the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum for a special recruiting and training session on Thursday, Nov. 13th.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – Volunteers are at the heart of every nonprofit organization, and at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum it is no different. Although the museum has a thriving base of more than 200 volunteers, more are always needed to assist with site shifts, visitor services, special events, academic research and a variety of other tasks.

IMG_7852On Thursday, Nov. 13th, the lighthouse will host a special recruiting and training session for new volunteers. The event begins at 2:30 p.m. with refreshments and a meet and greet with Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator Loni Wellman. At 3:00 p.m., Wellman will lead a brief training session followed by a private tour of the museum grounds at 4:00 p.m.

“Our volunteer base is so important to us as a growing museum,” said Wellman. “We have so many opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels to become part of our museum. Whether you can volunteer for an hour each week or for one day a year, you can make an impact.”

Current volunteer openings at the museum include assistance with research and collections, special events support and visitor services opportunities. In exchange for donating their time, volunteers at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum are eligible for some special perks including a free museum membership, 20% discount in the gift shop and invitations to special events. Continue reading

History of the Harn Family at the
St. Augustine Lighthouse

Who were the Harns?

In our new interactive exhibit, At Home with the Harns, you can experience life as it was for Head Keeper William Harn and his family. Harn served at the St. Augustine Light Station from 1875-1889 where he and his family were the first residents of the Victorian Keepers’ House.

But who were the Harns? How did they come to be in St. Augustine?

William & Kate’s Marriage

St. Augustine Lighthouse Keeper, Brevet Major William Harn of Philadelphia, enlisted in the United States Army in 1854 at the age of 19.

Some years later, as a private, he was sent to Fort Moultrie, S.C., where he met the daughter of Ordnance Sergeant James Skillen.  Her name was Kate.

Harn was transferred to Fort Sumter, S.C., where he was when the Confederate Bombardment occurred and the Civil War began.   He and Kate were married in Rome, New York, at the Rome Arsenal on June 2, 1863.  He was 28 and she was 19.

Harn and the Battle of Gettysburg

3rd NY BatteryAfter a 10 day furlough for this “very important personal business,” on June 5th he marched with the 3rd NY Independent Battery, as part of the VI Corps toward Gettysburg, PA.  He arrived there on the 2nd day of the battle bringing 119 men and six 10 pounder parrot rifles.  He had held command of the Battery for less than a month, having been promoted in June. Continue reading