Have you noticed that most lighthouses today are just for show? Such as the ones off the coast of North Carolina like Cape Hatteras – just a relic of our past that we now pay to tour? What has happened to the lighthouse keepers?
Sparked by an article in the Awake! magazine, written by a correspondent in Canada, I have thought much about this. It seems that being a lighthouse keeper is not longer a profession for anybody, and if it is they are rare.
That magazine brought out an example of a man who left a well-paying managerial position in Canada so that he could be the keeper of a 106-year-old lighthouse. He said the job made him feel “ten years younger”, and that “there is absolutely nothing else I’d rather do.”
So if this is such a desired position, why is the position so rare?
The job certainly is no easy one. It is relentless and “real work”. It certainly is no desk job. But even so, it is an enjoyable work, one with some fulfillment. What does it entail? Lighthouse keepers must 1) Keep the lighthouse oil reservoirs full, 2) Keep the wicks lit up, 3) Keep the glass sides/panes of the lighthouse lamps free of smoke. Sometimes a lighthouse keeper would be working all night, because the beacon would have to be rotated by hand so as to guide incoming ships. And just imagine when the foghorn on the lighthouse failed! That entailed beating the fog bell by hand all night. Wow! And what did all of this mean? No snoozing!
Here’s another thing a lighthouse keeper had to contend with: Waves from the sea! Severe storms were always a major concern, because they oftentimes reach the lighthouse keeper’s living quarters and can even wash away surrounding land around the lighhouse. Not for the faint of heart!
So what have happened to these brave people who once manned the beautiful lighthouses along the coasts? Well, the lighthouses themselves have been for the most part replaced by unmanned steel towers laced with powerful flashing lights to do the guiding of these ships. These new towers are far more powerful than anything those men and women of old use to keep, but the good thing is that these new towers are also doing a far better job of piercing the fog and gloom to guide ships to safety.
But, farewell to the lighthouse keepers themselves. It is a sad and sorry state, as many old-timers will profess. So even though the people are gone from our towers, replaced by precise computers, the memories will live on!