A Keeper Experiments

A forum to discuss lighthouses in the US Great Lakes Region
(Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and the lake lighthouses of New York & Pennsylvania)

Postby island » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:47 pm

There is an account in the light service records about a keeper of a light in 1864 on Lake Michigan. It is said he experimented with using mineral oil (kerosene) lamp in place of the lard oil lamp. The lamp burned very well so he continued to use it for several nights. But then his venture came to an abrupt end on the last morning when he attempted put it out the usual way by blowing down inside the lamp chimney to extinguish the flame. The lamp promptly exploded scattering burning oil over the deck of the tower and on his clothes. He ran down the stairs of the tower and had scarcely reached the ground when a violent explosion was heard above, which blew off the lantern and broke the lens.

This incident was described in a report on investigation of lighthouse illuminating materials to the Lighthouse Board in 1875 by Prof. Joseph Henry. However, the fire that occurred on January 1, 1964 at Green Island Light on Lake Erie, not the Green Island Light on Lake Michigan, was subsequently reported by the lighthouse inspector to have been caused by a fire in the stove flue that "consumed the wooden kitchen and the woodshed constructed in the fall of 1862, and all the woodwork throughout the house and tower except the wooden front stairs of the dwelling house which are only partially damaged. Throughout this house only the greater portion of the walls are standing. The gable wall farthest from the tower has fallen in.” Thus the records are confusing as to what really happened and where.
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