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Calcasieu Lighthouse

1860 – The buoyage has been well attended to. Plans and estimates are being prepared for the new light-house at the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi, and the preliminary steps have been taken for selecting the sites and procuring title thereto for the new light-houses authorized at Calcasieu and Rio Grande.

1868 – Calcasieu.—Among the few inlets on the Gulf coast west of the Mississippi, the bay of Calcasieu, some years before the war, acquired considerable importance on account of the extensive lumber trade carried on in that bay and in the river of the same name. This business has much increased since the close of the war, and bids fair to assume very large proportions. The depth of water on the bar is about six feet. The soil bordering the entrance is low salt marsh, subject to inundation during heavy gales.

1870 – Calcasieu, Louisiana.—Petitions have from time to time been received for a light to mark the entrance to this place, and in 1860 an appropriation was made, which, however, reverted to the treasury. This place, in addition to its significance as the key to the vast lumber region divided by the Calcasieu River, has within the last two years become of still further importance from the fact of the discovery of sulphur and coal oil in its vicinity, and not very remote from the salt mines which were somewhat developed and used by the insurgents during the rebellion. Although the site for this light will be on fast land, yet the great and sudden rise of the tide during equinoctial and other heavy storms on this part of the Gulf coast, which in many instances have been known to destroy nearly every building within many miles, and caused great loss of life, it is considered that nothing but a screw-pile structure can insure a proper degree of safety to life and property. An estimate has been submitted in the annual estimates for the next fiscal year for the structure.

1871 – Calcasieu Pass, intermediate between Trinity Shoal and Sabine Pass.— Inquiries have been made with a view to obtain possession of a suitable piece of land for the new Light house. There seems to be much confusion in the claims of various parties, so that the only certain mode to acquire possession is by the operation of the laws passed at the last session of the legislature of Louisiana. The new Light-house authorized at this point will be erected during the next working season.

1872 – Calcasieu, mouth of River Calcasieu, Louisiana.—A site for a new light-house has been surveyed and steps have been taken toward the purchase of the land, the matter having been placed in the hands of the United States district attorney, who has not yet been heard from. The structure is to be a fourth-order iron tower, similar to that at Southwest Reef, with focal plane of about 50 feet, supported on hollow cast-iron screw-piles, four in number, and strengthened by braces abutting against four exterior piles. The tower will be sheathed with plate-iron. It is already contracted for in the North, and will be erected on its site during the coming year.

1873 – Calcasieu, entrance to river and Lake Calcasieu, Louisiana.—Strenuous efforts were made to obtain a title to the site selected for the lighthouse, but without any definite result. The ironwork arrived in February, and for the above reason had to be stored at the depot at head of the passes, where it now remains. The old appropriation reverted to the Treasury on the 1st of July, 1873. A new appropriation of $14,000 is asked for the purchase of land for a site, and the transportation and erection of this light-house.

1874 – Calcasieu, entrance to River and Lake Calcasieu, Louisiana.—The appropriation made available by act of March 3, 1871, for the erection of this light-house, having reverted to the Treasury, the iron-work of the structure has, since its delivery, been stored at the depot at the Head of the Passes, where it now is. A new appropriation of $14,000, for the purchase of the land for a site and the erection of the light-house was made available by act of June 23,1874. Proceedings have been instituted by the United States district attorney, district of Louisiana, for the purpose of condemnation, under the laws of the State, of the lands selected and required for light house purposes. As soon as the title to the land is acquired, the erection of this light will be commenced.

1875 – Calcasieu, entrance to river and lake Calcasieu,, Louisiana.—Several attempts have been made to purchase the land required at this point for light-house purposes, but have failed, as the owners asked an exorbitant price. Information has been received that the channel across the bar has changed in such a manner as to render the establishment of a light on the east side of the river, as heretofore contemplated, of but little use. It is proposed to have an examination made of the locality for the purpose of determining the correctness of this report.

1876 – Calcasieu, entrance to river and lake Calcasieu, Louisiana.—Considerable delay has been caused by the fact that the land selected for the site could not be purchased at reasonable cost. It was found, however, upon a careful examination of the locality, that the channel had so changed its direction that a good site could be had on the west side, upon land owned by the United States. The proper steps were immediately taken to have the land reserved for light-house purposes. A survey was made of the locality and the boundaries of the reservation marked. The structure is now in process of erection.

1877 – Calcasieu, entrance to Calcasieu River Canal Lake, Louisiana.—The new light-house at this station was completed during the month of November, and the light was exhibited for the first time on the evening of December 9, 1876. Previous to the establishment of the new light, the course over the bar at the mouth of the Calcasieu River was marked by two small private range-lights. The outer one of the ranges is still used in connection with the main light, and maintained by private parties interested in the navigation of this river. As the land is low and entirely devoid of any natural objects which could be used as ranges over the bar, and as the lumber trade of the Calcasieu River is of considerable importance, giving employment to a large number of vessels and supplying the greater portion of the demand at Galveston and the vicinity, as well as points on the Texas and Mexican coasts, it is suggested that a lighted range-beacon, to be used in connection with the main light, be established, whereby vessels will be enabled to cross the bar and enter the river, which offers a good harbor for vessels of not over 7 feet draught of water at all hours of the day and night. An appropriation of $1,500 is respectfully recommended for this purpose.

1878 – Calcasieu, entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—As the land is low and the surroundings of this light-house are unmarked by any natural objects that can be used as ranges over the bar, and as the lumber trade has increased to the extent of employing a large number of vessels, it is recommended that a range-beacon be established for use in connection with the main light, to enable vessels to reach the harbor at night. For this purpose, an appropriation of $1,500 is recommended.

1879 – Calcasieu, entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana,—An appropriation is available for building a range-beacon, for use in connection with the main lights, to enable vessels to reach a harbor during the nighttime. Efforts are being made to purchase a small tract of land upon which to place the range, the owners declining to grant to the United States a perpetual right to place the beacon on their premises.

1880 – Calcasieu, entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—An appropriation is available for building a range-beacon, for use in connection with the main lights, to enable vessels to reach a harbor during the night. Efforts have been made to purchase a small tract of land, upon which to place the range, but the owner has declined to grant to the United States a perpetual right to place the beacon on these premises.

1882 – Calcasieu, entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—A small boathouse was built, the elevated plank walk and hand-rail were repaired, and the outbuildings were whitewashed.

1886 – Calcasieu, entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—The elevated walk from the inner bank to the light-house and thence by the outbuilding, a total length of 1,610 feet, was renewed, and several minor repairs were made.

1887 – Calcasieu, at the entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—A survey of the site was made, also tracings of the reservation and buildings. On October 12, 1886, all outhouses, the wooden platform and the boathouse were washed away, and the elevated plank walk from the river bank to the house was badly damaged by a storm. The zinc lining in the tower lantern was repaired; the kitchen floor was renewed; a new wooden platform, 20 feet by 20 feet in plan, 9 ½ feet high, was built; a wood-shed, 12 feet by 20 feet in plan, was erected; a walk, 2 feet wide and 80 feet long, was made; a new boat-house, 12 feet by 20 feet in plan, with boat-ways, was built and various repairs were made.

1891 – Calcasieu, entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—A new kitchen, 15 feet by 30 feet in plan, was built, and connected with the gallery of the light house by a wooden platform. The walk from the dwelling to the bank of the river was rebuilt, and minor repairs were made.

1893 – Calcasieu, on the west bank of Calcasieu Pass, at the entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—A new cistern measuring 9 feet by 10 feet in plan was put up. A fence was built around the station and other minor repairs were made.

1894 – This-light house, located at the entrance to the Calcasieu River, Louisiana, is a specimen of the type of the river and harbor structure placed on screw-pile foundations in the Southern waters where there is no danger from ice. It shows a fixed white fourth-order light 53 feet above the water which is visible about 14 ¾ miles.

It cost $14,000 to establish this structure; some 204 gallons of mineral oil are yearly consumed here; and the station is cared for by a single keeper who is paid therefor, at the rate of $680 a year.

1894 – Calcasieu, in marsh at the entrance to Calcasieu River, on the west bank of Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana.—A contract was made for building an oil house at this station. Various minor repairs were made.

1895 – Calcasieu, Gulf of Mexico, entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—An oil house was built by contract. Minor repairs were made.

1899 – Calcasieu, in marsh at entrance to Calcasieu River, on west bank of Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana.—Materials were delivered for use in repairs to this station.

1900 - 1095. Calcasieu, entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—A boathouse was built on the bank of the river. A 2-foot plank walk extends around the inside. A plank walk, 1,540 feet long and 8 feet wide, was built from the keeper's dwelling to the boathouse. A platform was built adjoining the tower, and a covered way was built between the tower and the kitchen. Excavation was made under the kitchen and 90 feet of mud sill put down. Six pine pillars were put under the foundations and braced to the sills and pillars. Various minor repairs were made. Ditches were dug to carry off water inside the premises; sand was wheeled from the river bank and the grounds inside the fence were filled up and graded so water will not stand on them.

1901 – Calcasieu, entrance to Calcasieu River, Louisiana.—An effort was made to repair this station under contract, but the bids received were considered excessive and were rejected, and the work was done by hired labor. Some 720 feet of barbed-wire fence was put up, with one double gate. Some 150 feet of wharf was built, with a pierhead 25 feet long and 6 feet wide on the outside end, and with two landing platforms 6 by 8 feet, one on each end of the pierhead. Various repairs were made.

1916 – W. Hill, keeper, maintained light and made effort to save Government property during hurricane.

1917 – On May 5, William Hill, keeper of Calcasieu Range Light Station, La., rendered good service in erecting a temporary structure after the front range light had been destroyed in a gale, and exhibiting therefrom the regular lens-lantern light which he recovered from the wreck.

1918 – William Hill, keeper, replaced range light during hurricane and cared for family in vicinity of station whose dwelling had been unroofed by the storm. Happened on Aug 6. 1918.

1918 – Material has been ordered to rebuild 1,420 feet of walk, 50-foot wharf to range light, etc.

1919 – Rebuilding walk, boathouse, and repairing station. In progress.

1919 – William Hill, keeper, rendered assistance to and cared for residents in vicinity of respective stations who has taken refuge in the station dwellings during the hurricane.

1920 – Repairing and rebuilding aids to navigation. Gulf of Mexico.—The act of February 28, 1916, appropriated $200,000 for repairing and rebuilding aids to navigation damaged or destroyed by hurricane on the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the work which had been completed, as stated in the annual reports for the fiscal years ended June 30, 1917, June 30,1918, and June 30,1919, there is given below a list of the work that has been completed during the present fiscal year and that in progress. During the fiscal year the following portions of the work have been completed: Calcasieu Range Rear Light Station, La.—Rebuilt 1,470 feet of walks, boathouse, and made numerous minor repairs to station.

1922 – The keeper of the Calcasieu Range Light on the Gulf coast of Louisiana reports on July 28 that “for the last three nights the station has been so overrun with various species of bugs and insects that is has been impossible, even with constant care, to keeper a good light. They settle on the lantern glass so thickly that it is doubtful if the light is visible 3 miles distant. The smaller kind pass through the screens and ventilators and fall in the lamp chimneys, causing smoke ups in the lantern. The lantern, which had recently been nicely painted, had to be scoured with soda and other cleansers yesterday, and will be cleaned again today. These conditions are liable to continue as long as the westerly winds prevail.”

Keepers: Charles F. Crossman (1876 – 1913), William Hill (1913 – 1929), Eli A. Malone (1929 – at least 1947).

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