Harbour Lights CHEER Center Learns about the Hardships and Dedication of the Bygone Lightkeeper

February 6, 2005
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America’s lighthouses have a rich heritage associated with “sending out the light” to guide and safeguard our nation’s maritime interests. Throughout the course of American history, the lifesaving powers of a lighthouse saved our loved ones and protected invaluable cargo from the wrath of the sea, but none of this would have been possible without the presence of the steadfast keeper.

Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation
(L to R) Bob Trapani and Harry Spencer talk about how keepers were rewarded for keeping excellent light stations.

On Wednesday, January 12, 2004, the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation debuted a new program entitled, “Keepers of the Light” to senior citizens at the Harbour Lights CHEER Center in Lewes.

Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation
A gentleman listens to Bob Trapani explain how Carmanah LED beacons operate.

The presentation explored the time-honored duties of the lighthouse keeper and how mariners at sea relied on both the visual and audio warnings of coastal beacons, as well as lesser-known facts about daily life at a light station. In addition to recounting the heroics and dedication of the men, women and children who helped keep America’s lights burning bright, “lightkeeper” Bob

Trapani demonstrated how 21st century technology continues to evolve by showing Carmanah Technologies’ fascinating LED beacons. The audience was also provided an opportunity to examine the LED beacons up close and learn how light emitting diode technology is revolutionizing the world of aids to navigation.

Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation
Harry Spencer stands next to a model of Liston Range Rear Light that he constructed for DRBLHF educational programs.

“Lightkeeper” Harry Spencer closed the program by taking the seniors on a trip down memory lane as he recounted his years of growing up at Liston Range Front and Rear Lights from 1920 to 1942. From talking about how the entire family pitched in to keep the light station “spic & span,” to the unforgettable experience of using the outdoor privy in the middle of wintertime, Harry delighted the audience with his engaging, firsthand account of the bygone life of the lighthouse family.

The article and all photos were reproduced with the permission of the author, Mr. Bob Trapani, Jr. of the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation. All photos by Ann-Marie Trapani.