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Lantern semantics

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Postby Terry_Pepper » Wed May 04, 2005 9:23 pm


I am sure that subject is going to come across as being incredibly anal, but there is something that I have been pondering for a number of years, and would appreciate input from my fellow lighthouse technology aficionados.

When referring to the glazed structure at the top of the tower in which the lens is mounted, should one use the term LANTERN, or LANTERN ROOM?

Since I have been involved in researching and writing on lighthouses, I have chosen to refer to this lighthouse feature as the LANTERN.

My reason for doing so is that in all my research, I find that this term was universally used by the Federal agencies responsible for lighthouses, and in contemporary documents when referring to this part of the structure.

A few examples:

FROM THE PLEASONTON ERA
In the 1838 Report on Lighthouse Expenditures, on page 116, in his report on the Fort Gratiot light station by Lieutenant James T. Homans:
Several of the panes of glass in the lantern of this light were broken, alleged by the keeper to have been done by gulls, or other wild fowl that abound in the neighborhood.

In the 1845 List of Light-Houses, Beacons and Floating Lights of the United States, pages 14 and 15, in the listing for the Cape Henlopen Light:
Height of lantern above the sea or highwater mark .. 180.00

FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE BOARD ERA
In the 1851 Report of the Officers Constituting the Light-House Board, page 175, in a report on the Fort Tomkpins Light:
....Dome of lantern and interior of sashes dirty and black; want painting badly; Lantern has not been painted since present keeper took charge. Plate-glass in that part if the lantern from which the light is seen, 26x10 inches. Tower damp under the lantern and next to floor….

From the same document, on page 166, in the LANTERN section of “Queries to aid in inspections:
27.. Of what material is the lantern made
32.. How is the lantern ventilated?
35.. Is the dome of the lantern painted white inside?

In the January 1869 to July 1869 issue of The Galaxy, an illustrated magazine of entertaining reading on page 247, Edward Abbot describes a tour of the Minot’s Ledge light with the station keepers, and reported the following:
Stepping out, for a moment, upon the second balcony, which opens from the floor of the lantern, we descend to the watch room, where we are able to gather a few further facts by conversation with the keepers.

I the 1880 annual report of the Light-House Board, page 55, in a report on the Mission Point Light on Lake Michigan:
The dwelling, tower, and lantern were painted inside and outside, a cellar was dug under the dwelling, and the station left in good repair.

FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE ERA
In the 1910 book “A Few Notes on Modern Lighthouse Practice” by Chance Brothers and Co., Limited, the book opens with a glossary of lighthouse terms. The following definition appears on page 13 of this volume:
The “Lantern” consists of the ventilating pedestal, plates, glazing, roof and ventilator, and forms a chamber for protecting the Optical Apparatus.”

In the 1912 Report of the Commissioner of Lighthouses, page 633 in a report on the Rock of Ages light station:
The lighthouse supports a cast-iron gallery, watch room, and first-order straight bar lantern, whose focal plane is 87 feet above the deck of the pier.

In the 1919 Annual Report of the Lake Carriers Association, pages 105 and 106, on a report on the Sand Hills light station:
Illuminating apparatus consists of a 35 mm oil vapor lamp burned in a revolving 4th order flashing lens, located in a 4th order helical bar lantern on top of the main tower.

From the 1937 “Light List Great Lakes – United States and Canada”, pages 198 & 1999, in the entry for the Milwaukee Breakwater Light:
Top of lantern above ground: 53
Structure, vessel or buoy: Black lantern on red square structure.

FROM THE COAST GUARD ERA
In the Light Station Log for the Marquette Harbor light on August 21, 1943, Civilian Keeper J. F. Soldenski recorded the following:
Partly cloudy with light Southerly winds. Light showers in AM. Field Day general cleanup in fog signal and tower. Cleaning and oiling in Breakwater lantern and routine duties. Kowalczyk going on liberty

In the Light Station Log for the Cheboygan River Range Light station on Tuesday June 4, 1957, Civilian keeper Clarence R. Land made the following entry on work performed at the Cheboygan Crib light, for which the station was also responsible:
Hauled two 50 lb. cylinders of C02 gas out to Cheboygan Crib Light for use on the Bell Striker. Also checked the bell striker for amount of gas left on the line. Also adjusted the time between strikes. Also checked the amount of AGA gas left on the line to the light. Also swept down the lantern and stairways and decks, etc. Returned to Station at 1130

In the 1960 List of Lights and Other Marine Aids – Great Lakes – United States and Canada, on page 189, in the listing for the Grand Haven South pierhead Entrance Light:
Top of lantern above ground in feet ..36
Structure, vessel, or buoy.. Lantern on gable end of red fog signal building.

SUMMING UP
As can be seen, all references in the indicated documents use the term Lantern. In none of these documents could I find the term lantern room used.

Any feedback relative to the historical context for the use of the term "Lantern Room" would be greatly appreciated.
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Postby Hersh » Wed May 04, 2005 10:24 pm


I don't have any fancy pants knowledge to share, but when you think of a Coleman lantern, the whole thing is a lantern, not just the mantels. The lantern is the base, the glass windows, and the roof, so I think lantern would be appropriate. Guess I need to change my way of speaking, as I've always said lantern room.
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Postby Optics » Thu May 05, 2005 5:28 am


I have used both "Lantern" and "Lantern Room" to identify this feature of a lighthouse. However, the term "Lantern" is the correct usage in my view. The French call this the "Fanal" which means lantern when used in a nautical sense.
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Postby island » Thu May 05, 2005 6:26 am


As Tom has stated, both lantern and lantern room are commonly used. However, if you look at the definition of lantern you will find:

1. A case that has transparent or translucent sides for holding and protecting a light.
2. A room at the top of a lighthouse where the light is located.
3. A structure built on top of a roof with open or windowed walls.

If by definition a lantern is a room at the top of a lighthouse and it is a glass walled metal roofed structure containing the lamp and lens it is not then a room containing the lantern. The room is the lantern. The term "lantern room" with respect to a lighthouse is redundant.
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Postby Lampist » Thu May 05, 2005 6:53 am


GEntlemen:

I might as well jump into the frying pan, as well, although I think this one is pretty straight forward.

As was already pointed out, the professionals from Pleasonton to the Coast Guard all agree that the lantern is the physical structure at the top of the lighthouse that encloses the illuminating apparatus. It is simply the structure with it's walls, windows and roof, as well as, some associated pieces such as vents, etc.

The lantern room is the "space" inside of that structure. You will occasionally called the lens room in some texts. Just like a living room is inside the walls of a one room cabin, the lantern room is what is inside the walls of the lantern.

Some folks may think I'm way too picky about such a fine point but I think that it is an important distinction to be kept in mind because one refers to the physical structure of the lighthosue and the other refers to a space within it.
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Postby island » Thu May 05, 2005 7:58 am


Jim,

This leads to question. How much room within a lantern must there be for that space to become a lantern room?

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Postby vacastle » Thu May 05, 2005 8:41 am


This leads to question. How much room within a lantern must there be for that space to become a lantern room?

Enough space to move around in?

On the same token, a house is the structure, and the LR, exactly that, a room, or the space inside. If one were to properly take the square footage of that home, it should be measured from the outside walls. But to get the square footage of the room or living space, you would measure the inside space. The thicknest of the wall from inside to the outside would not be included.

So, using Woody's analogy, I would refer to that thing on top that houses the lens as a lantern if I were looking up at it, but if I were inside, it would be the lantern room. (Actually, I'll probably still call it a lantern room, regardless.)

Woody...GREAT AVATAR!

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Postby mikev » Thu May 05, 2005 8:45 am


I simply second Tom Tag on this one, which is always a safe thing to do when talking about lighthouse illumination.

Speaking as one who uses words for a living, "lantern" is the best choice but either works as long as your meaning is clear.

Technically, calling it a "lantern room" indicates it's a room to house a lantern -- and if so, exactly what would that lantern be?

Which raises yet another question: is it an optic, a lamp or a lens (or is the lamp within the lens taken together the optic) :wink: ?

Woody, it would seem you chose the wrong nickname: you're not a lampist, you're an optician!
Last edited by mikev on Thu May 05, 2005 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby island » Thu May 05, 2005 9:05 am


It you display a lighthouse lantern in a room of a museum would it be a lantern room room? :?

Is the space inside a 1st Order Fresnel a lens room? If a 4th Order it might be a lens lack of room. :)
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Postby Pharoslvr » Thu May 05, 2005 9:48 am


From an architectural point of view I would have to call it a lantern room. The lantern (lens, et al) is housed within a designated area (enclosed room, in this case) with sidewalls, floor, and roof.
Personally, I think it would be confusing to label the entire configuration as a lantern.
Here's my question to you....what would you call it if there was no lantern in that area at all, as in the case of Pt. Iroquois, where it was removed many years ago. Would you still call it a "lantern?" :)

Brent

P.S. After noting the above I pulled one of my reference books by F. Ross Holland and he does refer to it as a "lantern" when describing all aspects of the lighthouse. Interesting! :)
Last edited by Pharoslvr on Thu May 05, 2005 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ron » Thu May 05, 2005 9:54 am


in this part of the world all elevations, references to the lantern are of the focal point of the light, which is located in the "dome". thats all i've ever heard it as being
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Postby Pharoslvr » Thu May 05, 2005 10:27 am


I guess what I'm trying to understand in my own mind is this....whether a lantern exists in that area, or not.....it is still a room that "once upon a time" housed a lantern, so it should still be referred to as a "lantern room." :lol:

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Postby Terry_Pepper » Thu May 05, 2005 10:48 am


There's nothing like an anally-retentive semantical discussion to bring out the Anorak in all of us. :lol:

Here's how I see it: The lantern contains the lens, which in turn contains the lamp.

Brent, regarding your comment:
what would you call it if there was no lantern in that area at all, as in the case of Pt. Iroquois

The lantern was never removed from Point Iroquois, it is still there, solid as the day it was erected in 1870. Only the lens and lamp (and if my memory serves me correctly the lens pedestal) have been removed. See the image below.

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Among others, Poverty and Chambers Island lights have had their lanterns removed.

Image Image
Last edited by Terry_Pepper on Sun May 08, 2005 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Pharoslvr » Thu May 05, 2005 11:12 am


To make your own case, Terry, I guess you're correct. :)

However, Webster defines a lantern as " A portable light having transparent or translucent sides." (the key word here, being portable).

It seems to me that the lantern would be considered, by Webster's definition, moveable whereas the lantern room would be considered a permanent appurtenant.

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Postby mikev » Thu May 05, 2005 11:56 am


Not quite so fast, Brent. :)

In the 1950 Webster's unabridged I sometimes consult, "lantern" is defined as a transparent enclosure for a light, sometimes portable. And in that first-listed definition the thingie atop a lighthouse is listed as an example; in the third listed definition, lantern is separately defined as the room holding the lens in a lighthouse. A later definition also says "lantern," architecturally, is a term for any open rooftop structure that admits light to the interior of a building, as in an open cupola. "Lantern room" is not listed at all in that dictionary, although there are a lot of other lantern-somethings.

If you prefer parallelism, the helmsman reports to the bridge and not to the bridge room -- although Webster's has other things to say about bridges, too.

Anoraks, indeed! :lol:
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