The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 4 Sep 1896

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The schr. Fabiola is tied up at the foot of Princess street.

The M.T. Co. will, in all probability, have another ship built this winter.

The str. Saturn, Fort William, wheat, is in Lake Ontario, bound for this port.

The schr. Acacia will clear for Oswego this afternoon to load coal for Swift & Co.

The schr. Annie Falconer is loading coal at Charlotte. Her cargo is for Kingston.

The str. D.D. Calvin and consorts passed through the Welland canal, yesterday, bound for this port.

The str. Glengarry and consorts arrived at noon today from Fort William with 130,000 bushels of wheat.

The schr. Two Brothers arrived this morning from Consecon with 4,500 bushels of peas, consigned to the M.T. Co.

The S.S. Rosemount was floated out of the government dry-dock this morning and towed to the M.T. Co.'s wharf, where the work of fitting her out will be prosecuted.

The str. Empire State arrived in port at half past five this morning after delivering her passengers at Brockville and way ports. The crew did not get much sleep.

The S.S. Rosemount will not tow any barges on her first trip up the lakes. After that trip she will tow the Winnipeg and Dunmore, leaving the Minnedosa and Selkirk for the Bannockburn.

Capt. J. Hemans, with a steam barge and pump, is taking up a coal cargo out of the sunken schr. North Star, which, in 1888, went down near Stony Point. He will next try and secure the cargo of coal in a propeller sunk near Thousand Island Park.



St. Lawrence River Lighthouses Most Serviceable.

Of all the lighthouses the government supports along the coast of the United States, says a writer in the Syracuse Herald, in the lakes and on the St. Lawrence river, those stations on the river are probably the most serviceable to the mariner. The bed of the river is of peculiar formation, filled with deep chasms or holes, whose abrupt sides give no warning of danger to the pilot who may have become mixed in his reckoning or who is traversing the stream for the first time.

For this reason many lighthouses have been constructed by the American and Canadian governments along both shores.

Every tourist to the Thousand Islands has noticed while passing Thousand Island Park and Fine View, a tall lighthouse and its well-kept lodge surrounded by flowers and shrubs. This is what is known as Rock Island light and is located on Government Island in charge of M.J. Diepolder. Around the island are several large and dangerous reefs where vessels have struck and gone to the bottom. Since the present lighthouse has been built there have been nine wrecks, but only one life was lost. The schooner Vickery now lies in the river near a ledge of rock between the lighthouse and Thousand Island park, and on the other side is the Oconto that went down several years ago loaded with silk and general merchandise.

The position of lighthouse keeper is usually one of isolation, but on this spot the keeper is not cut off from communication with the island except on unusually rough weather. The temperature in winter is on an average from 2 1/2 to 3 degrees warmer than on the mainland. Rock Island lighthouse was built in 1842 and in September, 1886, M.J. Diepolder of Fisher's Landing took charge of the station. On his arrival he found the island in an unimproved state and a few buildings, but nothing that would compare with its present condition. The lighthouse tower, owing to some personal disagreements had been so constructed as to hide the light from Thousand Island park. The light faced the main channel on the American shore, but when traffic began to get heavy through the park channel Mr. Diepolder would each night set a lantern on the rocky point to guide to guide the pilots leaving the park, and through his efforts after six years of hard work, the lighthouse tower was raised five feet and can now be seen each evening from any point on the river from Central Park to Clayton.

There has been considerable work done on the station in the past ten years. Chimneys have been rebuilt, barn erected and various improvements necessary to keeping up the cottage itself have been made. New cement walks have been placed about the grounds, the break-water overhauled, several scow loads of earth brought, a large dock built, new platform in front of the buoy house and new break water pier at the west end of the island constructed. The buildings have to be kept in first class order and the painting is done once in five years, the material being furnished by the government and the labor by the keepers. At large stations where there are many buildings this makes it very hard for those in charge.

Government Island is recognized as one of the hardest stations in the district to keep in order. There is no water power on the island not even a windmill, and the keeper is obliged to pump by hand all the water to keep his lawn and flower beds in shape. This station is also a buoy depot and buoys from all points along the river and lakes are stored here. The government is about to make a change in its warning signals and gas buoys are to be placed in the river this week or next. They are a German invention and are warranted to burn for 124 days without reloading. It is the duty of government Tender Hayes to look after them and see that they are in order. One of the gas buoys will be placed opposite Thousand Island park, at a point where the schooner Vickery lies, one at Sister light, another at a shoal below and one at Ogdensburg.

All supplies to maintain and keep up the station are delivered once a year by the tender, Hayes, in the month of June. Keepers make out a list of supplies to last them one year and these are then delivered to them. All waste and warn-out material, no matter how small, must be preserved and returned to the tender, Hayes. The only supplies furnished by the government, except in isolated stations on the lakes, are for the use of the light and the keeper must provide himself and family with the necessaries of life. The tower is fifty feet above the water level and the light has a 12-mile range lens. The lens is of French make and is composed of a number of prisms set at an angle. The lamps used have much the appearance of a common house lamp, but have a double wick and are of twenty candle power. Only one lamp is burned at a time, but a lamp is lighted at sunset and burns until midnight. Another is then substituted, which burns until daylight, when it is extinguished and the lamps are immediately got ready for the next night. An extra lamp is always kept in readiness in case of accident. Water white mineral oil is used and is furnished by the government. It is far superior to the so-called headlight oil furnished in the grocery stores. The lamps are all tested as to the quality of oil and the amount burned. This is done every morning that the report at the end of the quarter may agree with the estimate made by the government supply officers.

The tower is built on a stone foundation, the outside being of boiler iron and the interior of brick. During the daytime the portion in which the light is located is extremely warm and visitors can stay but a few minutes at a time.

Keeper Diepolder is very fond of pets and has among others a tame raccoon, cockatoo, fox and peacock. His leisure moments are devoted to taxidermy, and among a valuable collection are several white gulls and blue herons. He also mounts large fish occasionally and his work is pronounced of the best quality. He has by hard labor, brought Government island from a bleak rock in the middle of the channel to a flowering bed, carpeted with soft and well trimmed turf. His work has been highly praised by the government inspector and it is hoped he may long remain to guard one of the most important points on the St. Lawrence



Ogdensburg, N.Y., Sept. 4th - John Walker (La March in French,) engineer at the St. Lawrence marine railway, was almost instantly killed on Wednesday. Walker was in the basement, where immense cog wheels are in motion. Superintendent Arthur Woods was in the room and asked Walker how the valves of the water pump worked. The latter replied that they worked better. He then stepped to turn the valve and shut off the water, when he pitched head foremost in among the great cogwheels. The cogs caught and carried him around, splitting open his head, breaking his limbs and crushing his body in a shocking manner. Superintendent Woods stopped the machinery and the body of the unfortunate engineer was taken from the machinery. John Walker was sixty-eight years of age, and had been employed about the marine railway for the last forty years.

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4 Sep 1896
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 4 Sep 1896