The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 316
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
manned the South Jetty light at Galveston. They lived in a frame structure
near the tower, using a kerosene range for cooking and heating. Fresh
water was supplied by a rain water storage tank. Duty at the offshore
facility entitled each man to six days a month leave in addition to the normal
thirty day furlough per year.21
Lighthouse journals reflected a life which often embraced loneliness,
war, and hurricanes. In 1836 the keeper of the Cape Florida tower in
Florida barely survived a harrowing attack by Seminole Indians. Across the
Gulf, the modest entry, "cloudy, damp, warm, Northeast gale with light
rain, and very high tide," reflected the Fort Point keeper's observation of
the devastating storm which struck Galveston Island on September 8,
After the new century began, a gradual reduction of the shore beacons
commenced, beginning with the closing of the Point Isabel tower in 1905.
Decline in commerce, regular harbor maintenance, including dredging
which often diverted channels away from lights, and automation through
electrification, eliminating the necessity for crews, were among the argu-
ments used by the government for abandoning lighthouses. The Fort Point
light at Galveston was extinguished in i909; Bolivar in 1933; and Sabine
Pass-"full of instruments and devices that were outmoded years ago"-
and Aransas Pass in 1952. The Galveston lightship was discontinued on
April 23, 1906. More recently, technological improvements, including radio
calibration signals, resulted in the closing of the "deteriorating structure on
the south jetty" at Galveston in 1972. Although the Matagorda light still
remains in active service, it is fully automated, and the skeleton tower at
the mouth of the Brazos was replaced by a smaller facility a number of
years ago. Elsewhere along the United States coastline, the Coast Guard,
which has the responsibility for operating and maintaining navigational
aids, has eliminated lighthouses for "economy reasons" and "to end one
of the service's loneliest duties." Piloting ships by use of calibration signals
has made the traditional lighthouse a pharos of the past.23
21Galveston Tribune, June 14, 1950; Conklin, Guideposts of the Sea, 81-85.
22"Lighthouse Keeping," Port of Mobile, XXXVI (November, 1963), 8-1 I; entry for
September 8, 9goo, Journal of Light Station at Fort Point, United States Light-House
Establishment" (Rosenberg Library, Galveston).
23Houston Chronicle, June 29, I952; "History of Galveston Lightship," 123; Galveston
Daily News, July 19, 1952 (first quotation), September 21, 1972 (second quotation);
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, August io, 1972 (third and fourth quotations).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/361/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.