An enjoyable Lighthouse Symposium

Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses and the American Lighthouse Foundation held an event called “Lighthouses & Keepers: A Symposium” at the Kittery (Maine) Lions Club on Saturday, June 4, and […]

Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses and the American Lighthouse Foundation held an event called “Lighthouses & Keepers: A Symposium” at the Kittery (Maine) Lions Club on Saturday, June 4, and the program was well attended with lots of positive feedback.

June 4_2016_Lighthouse Symposium_03

Russ Lane Jr. (Photo by Bob Trapani Jr.)

The first presenter was Russ Lane Jr., who introduced a documentary he produced about a dramatic rescue performed by his father, Russ Lane Sr., when he was a Coast Guard lighthouse keeper at Maine’s Whitehead Island in 1958. (A trailer for the documentary can be seen here.) Five young people were saved from a capsized sailboat that day, and Lane and lobsterman Dave Gamage received special citations from the Coast Guard for their heroism.

 

June 4_2016_Lighthouse Symposium_05

Marian Gagnon (Photo by Bob Trapani Jr.)

 

 

Next, filmmaker Marian Gagnon screened her film America’s Forgotten Heroine: Ida Lewis, Keeper of the Light, which tells the story of the legendary keeper of Lime Rock Light in Newport, Rhode Island. The Emmy-nominated documentary about the “bravest woman in America” has been shown on Rhode Island public TV and has been greeted by enthusiastic receptions everywhere it’s been shown, but this event marked its first screening in the Portsmouth/Kittery area.

June 4_2016_Lighthouse Symposium_06

Fred Mikkelsen (Photo by Bob Trapani Jr.)

 

 

 

 

Frederick Mikkelsen, a Coast Guard keeper at Conimicut Light in Warwick, Rhode Island, followed with a fascinating look back at his lighthouse experiences called Checked Main Light: Lighthouse Life in the 1950s. Fred’s colorful descriptions of the sometimes fun, sometimes scary aspects of keeping an offshore lighthouse drew gasps and laughter from the audience.

 

Former Coast Guard lighthouse keepers Jim Pope (left), Fred Mikkelsen, and Russ Lane (seated). Photo by Bob Trapani Jr.

Former Coast Guard lighthouse keepers Jim Pope (left), Fred Mikkelsen, and Russ Lane (seated). Photo by Bob Trapani Jr.

 

 

Jim Pope of Eliot, Maine, spoke about his time (1958-61) as a Coast Guard keeper at Whaleback Light in Kittery. Jim is well known in the area as a longtime tugboat captain after his lighthouse experience.

In the day’s final presentation, Bob Trapani, Jr., executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation, recounted the organization’s history and preservation successes, focusing on the restoration of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. Jeremy D’Entremont followed with an overview of the activities of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation.

Bob Trapani Jr. (Photo by Ann Trapani)

  Bob Trapani Jr. (Photo by Ann Trapani)

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to the presenters and to all who attended, also to our great staff and volunteers and everyone who donated raffle and auction prizes and refreshments. Thanks also to the Kittery Lions Club. There are plans for a similar event at some point in the future — watch this site for news.