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Head of Passes, LA  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Head of Passes Lighthouse

1854 – Painted iron-work of lantern; repaired foundation of cistern; repaired water conductors; put sheet-iron cap over chimney of dwelling; set four lights of glass, 10 by 12.

1855 – The iron light-house tower which formerly stood at the Head of the Passes of the Mississippi river, has been removed and rebuilt at the Pass a L'outre. Its illuminating apparatus has been received, and is now being adapted to the lantern. In all probability it can be lighted by the first of November. A new dwelling for the keeper has also been built at the Pass a L'outre, and is presumed to be finished at this date.

1855 – Only two lens lights, one of the 5th and one of the 6th order, have been brought into use in this district. At the Head of the Passes, the one lamp of the 6th order lens replaces 3 reflector lamps, and at East Pascagoula 5 reflector lamps would probably be required to give a light equal to that of the single lamp in the 5th order lens. The saving of oil effected by the use of these lens lights seems to be about 50 per cent.

1862 – The important light at South Pass has been repaired and relighted, and the no less important lights at Southwest Pass, Pass a l'Outre, and head of the passes, (mouths of the Mississippi river,) are in course of repair, preparatory to their immediate re-establishment.

1863 -The old light-house at the head of the Passes was burned at the commencement of the rebellion. A new structure has been erected, and the light shown.

1866 – On the 10th of January the light-station at the Head of Passes was somewhat injured by a fire. The necessary steps were taken to repair the damage.

1866 – The light-station at the head of the passes was found to have been much injured in consequence of the brick piers supporting the gallery having been thrown down by logs washed against them. This damage might have been prevented by the keeper shoving the logs away as they drifted against the piers. This negligence on the part of the keeper was reported to the department, who promptly authorized the appointment of another person.

1867 – Head of the passes.—Extensive repairs are necessary at this station, and a shield is required to protect the exposed portions of the foundation of the dwelling from floating logs and the combined action of the swell and current during high stages of the water. The brick piers of the dwelling have all been knocked away, and it now rests upon wooden posts.

The sills of the gallery are rotten and must be replaced. A working party was sent on the 1st of August to make the repairs, but had hardly commenced when stopped by the yellow fever. The work has since been resumed, and will soon be completed. The house was painted in May, 1867.

1868 – Head of the Passes.—The work of building a breakwater in front of this light-house, which was in progress at the date of the last annual report, has been completed, and the good effects anticipated have been fully realized. The current of the river being checked by the piles, a rapid deposition of sediment has taken place, raising the ground between one and two feet during the year. A growth of willow is springing up, which will still further increase the deposition, and it seems reasonable to expect that by these means the stability of the light-house will be assured.

1869 – Head, of the Passes, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—This station is in excellent condition. Repairs upon the light-house and kitchen were completed in March last. The space inclosed by the breakwater is rapidly filling up with solid earth, upon which a number of young willow trees and other plants are growing, which will still further tend to consolidate the soil.

1870 – Head of the passes, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—The work authorized, consisting of the construction of a wharf, protecting levee, and for a light-house and buoy depot, will be commenced as soon as the prevailing epidemic will allow it to be done. It is expected that work may be resumed in that vicinity by the 1st of October. The breakwater built in 1868 has had a very beneficial effect upon this station. The land within the inclosure has been raised from 18 to 24 inches by the deposition of sediment. Where large row-boats could navigate without difficulty there is now solid dry ground. The danger apprehended from the threatened undermining of the foundation of the light-house by washings of the current of the river seems no longer to exist, and it may be considered as permanently arrested.

1871 – Head of the Passes.—Slight repairs were made during the year to the breakwater, and the house was thoroughly painted. The station is now in excellent condition. The space inclosed by the breakwater is still filling up with solid ground; a dense growth of young willows is now spreading over it.

1872 – Head of the Passes, river Mississippi, Louisiana.—The light-house being in danger of destruction from the washing of the river bank, it has been removed 200 feet farther inland to a place of greater security, and the building is now being repaired and strengthened. A breakwater formerly protected the site, but a large portion of it was carried away in a gale, last October.

1874 – Head of the Passes, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—In the early part of 1872, this light-house was removed from its original foundation to a point 200 feet farther inland, to avoid its destruction by the washing away of the river-bank; the breakwater which formerly protected the site being carried away during a violent gale in October, 1872. As the river is still encroaching on the light-house site to such an extent that it will be necessary to shortly build some protective works, or again remove the light, an appropriation of $3,500 is respectfully recommended for the purpose of building a breakwater.

1875 – Head of the Passes, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—A fog-bell struck by machinery has been placed in a suitable tower at this station, the work having been authorized by act of June 23,1874. The dwelling house, tower, and kitchen have been painted throughout and some slight repairs made. An appropriation of $3,500 having been made available by act of March 3, 1875, for building a breakwater for the protection of this light-house, plans have been prepared and the work will be taken in hand at an early day.

1876 – Head of the Passes, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—Under an appropriation of $3,500 a breakwater for the protection of this station has been built and the station put in good order.

1878 – Head of the Passes, mouth of the Mississippi River, Louisiana.— Complete repairs have been made to the keeper's dwelling. There is a depot here for buoys, coal, and other light-house stores. By act approved May 6, 1868, an appropriation of $10,000 was made for the erection and maintenance of pier-head lights, at the entrance of the jetties, at the South Pass of the Mississippi River. During the same month a light was established near the end of each jetty.

1878 – Head of Pass, one at east jetty and one at west jetty. Lighted May 10, 1878.

1879 – South Pass and Head of the Passes, Mississippi River. Lights on the east side of the jetties changed from fixed white to fixed red, August 1,1878.

1881 – Head of the Passes, on Deer Island, at the junction of the Southwest and South Passes of Mississippi River, Louisiana.—The keeper has whitewashed the station and keeps it in fine order.

1882 – Head of the Passes, on Deer Island, at the junction of the Southwest and South Passes of the Mississippi River, Louisiana.—A new wharf was built, also a walk leading to the dwelling. The house was painted and repaired; the wooden sills under the brick foundation were cut away and replaced by brick. The station is in fine order.

1882 – Head of the Passes, east and west jetty lights, upper entrance into the South Pass, Louisiana.—The wooden pyramids are rotten and will soon be replaced by cypress piles, from which to exhibit the small lanterns.

1883 – Head of the Passes Jetties, (stake-lights,) upper entrance to the South Pass, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—Long cypress piles were driven on each side of the head of South Pass, to replace the rotten wooden pyramids from which the lights were formerly shown. The lights have since been exhibited from the piles.

1884 – Head of the Passes (east light) east jetty, upper entrance to the South Pass, Louisiana.—This lighted beacon was twice knocked down by the washing away of the bank and by drift-wood. A new beacon was put up and a platform was built to enable the keeper to land at the beacon.

1885 – Head of the Passes Jetty (west light), west jetty, upper entrance to the South Pass, Louisiana.—The beacon light, which had been knocked down by a passing steamer, was replaced by a new one at the expense of the owners of the steamer.

1885 – Head of the Passes, on Deer Island, at the junction of the Southwest and South Passes of Mississippi River, Louisiana.—The fog-signal apparatus was sent to New Orleans, where it was thoroughly repaired, after which it was placed in position.

1886 – Head of the Passes Jetty (west light), upper entrance to the South Pass, Louisiana.—The beacon light was renewed by driving a cluster of seven piles and building a platform on them 8 feet square, with steps leading to the platform, and a staff was set up.

1887 – Head of the passes on Deer Island, at the junction of the Southwest and South Passes of the Mississippi River, Louisiana.—A survey of the site was made, also tracings of the reservation and buildings. Two boundary stones to mark the reservation were set up.

1888 – Head of the Passes, on Deer Island, Mississippi River, Louisiana.— The fog-signal tower was rebuilt, a new roof was put on the dwelling, a new picket fence was built around the reservation, and the wharf and walk leading from the wharf to the dwelling were rebuilt.

1888 – Head of the Passes, East Jetty, on the East Jetty, at upper entrance to South Pass, Louisiana.—This structure was washed away by the caving of the bank and it was replaced by a new one.

1889 – Head of the Passes, west light, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—An appropriation was made to establish a higher and more powerful light on one of the jetties at the Head of the Passes. It was decided to place this light on the west jetty. Drawings are being prepared, and when completed this work will be commenced.

1890 – Head of the Passes, west jetty, upper entrance to South Pass, Mississippi River, Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana.—Under an appropriation to establish a higher and more powerful light on one of the jetties at the Head of the Passes, it was decided to replace this light by a skeleton structure, constructed entirely of iron and resting upon four iron piles the superstructure to be composed of columns, struts, and tension rods framed in the form of a frustum of a square pyramid. The architrave at the head of the skeleton is to support a gallery with railing accessible by ladders, and to support a lantern, the focal plane of which is to be about 50 feet above mean low water. Contracts for the metal-work of this structure have been made and it is to be completed about October 1,1890. The work of erection will then be commenced.

1891 – Head of the Passes West Jetty, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—A fifth-order light, April 15, 1891.

1891 – Head of the Passes West Jetty, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—A lens lantern light, April 15, 1891 - discontinued

1891 – Head of the Passes beacon, entrance to South Pass, Louisiana.— This beacon was rebuilt and consists of a brown, square, pyramidal, skeleton iron tower, surmounted by a black lantern. The focal plane is 48 feet above mean sea level.

1892 – Head of the Passes East Jetty, entrance to South Pass, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—This beacon washed out, but it was immediately restored, and without change in location or character. As it is in a situation subject to scour, it must be rebuilt in a more substantial manner. The beacon is now in good condition.

1892 – Head of the Passes West Jetty, upper entrance to South Pass, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—This beacon was run into and damaged on December 18,1891, by the Cromwell Line steamer Seneca, and on February 6, 1892, it was completely demolished by the steamer New Orleans, of the same line. A light will be shown here from a lantern hung on a pole until the beacon is rebuilt. The beacon was built at the extreme outer end of the jetty in an exposed position. The tower was not sufficiently protected, as the piling proved to be not firm enough. The current of the river is swift and the length of the piles is such as to give spring under the pressure of a heavy ship. Also the water was too deep. It is proposed to rebuild the tower in 8 feet of water in the rear of the jetty for the sake of its protection. It is estimated that this can be done for not exceeding $4,000, and it is hoped that the general appropriation for repairs of light-houses for the coming fiscal year will be sufficient to enable the Board to defray the expense of rebuilding this beacon therefrom.

1892 – Head of the Passes, Mississippi River, on Beer Island, Louisiana.—A 3,000-gallon cistern was furnished. Various minor repairs were made.

1893 – Head of the Passes, on Deer Island, at junction of Southwest and South passes, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—An oil house was built at this station and various repairs were made.

1893 – Head of the Passes West Jetty, upper entrance to South Pass, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—A new structure of pyramidal form, painted black, and intended to carry a lens lantern, was erected to replace the Head of the Passes West Jetty beacon, destroyed on February 6, 1892. The new beacon bears N. by W. ½ W. from the Head of the Passes light-house, Louisiana, distant from it 1,354 feet. It stands on the west side of the jetty. The light will be 25 feet from the water surface, at mean high water.

1893 – Head of the Passes East Jetty, upper entrance to South Pass, Louisiana.—Owing to the caving of the banks of the river this beacon was in imminent danger of being washed away. To make it secure, a more substantial foundation pile 40 feet long was put down. The light was not changed in either characteristic or position.

1894 – Head of the Passes, on Deer Island, mouth of the Mississippi River, Louisiana.—The oil house was moved, outhouses were built, and a plank walk leading from the dwelling to the boathouse was put down. Various repairs were made.

1894 – Head of the Passes West Jetty, upper entrance to South Pass, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—The lantern for this new beacon was put in place, and on October 20,1893, the light was exhibited for the first time.

1898 – Head of the Passes, west jetty, upper entrance to South Pass, Louisiana.—The beacon on the west jetty, which had been carried away, was replaced by a new structure, completed in September, 1897. The light was shown from a pole, pending the erection of the new structure.

1898 – Head of the Passes, east jetty, upper entrance to South Pass, Louisiana.—A platform was built. A seven day lens lantern was furnished. .Repairs were made.

1899 – Head of Passes, on Deer Island, at junction of Southwest and South passes, Louisiana.—The wharf was extended out 100 feet to deep water and a boathouse was built on the outer end fitted with davits for hoisting two boats at once. The walk leading from the dwelling to the wharf, 530 feet long by 8 feet wide, was rebuilt, and a walk 5 feet wide and about 1,000 feet long was built from the wharf to the west jetty beacon. A foundation was built and a new cistern with 10-foot bottom and 9-foot staves was erected on it, in the rear of the assistant keeper’s kitchen, and with proper connections. The fencing was repaired and 956 feet of new fence built. The oil house was repaired and the plank walk leading to it was repaired. A new fog-bell tower was built inside of and behind the west jetty, about 100 feet south of the west jetty beacon and about 1,200 feet NNE. from the old fog-bell tower, the site of which had proved to be unsatisfactory. It is a square, pyramidal, structure standing on piles, the lower section open and the upper section inclosed, its top is 30 feet above mean high water. The foundation is painted black and the tower white. The fog bell was removed from the old tower and a new striking machine was installed. No change was made in the characteristic of the fog bell. A plank walk 980 feet long by 5 feet wide was built from the keeper’s dwelling to the tower. The old tower was fitted with two windows and a door and changed into an addition to the keeper's dwelling. Minor repairs were made.

1900 – Head of Passes, on Deer Island, at junction of Southwest and South Passes, Louisiana.—The boathouse and wharf were damaged by the steamship Imaum in November, 1899. Complete repairs were made at a cost of about $500 and the bill thereof was paid by the owners of the steamer. Various repairs were made.

1902 – Head of Passes, on the northerly end of Deer Island, in the angle at the junction of South and Southwest Passes, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—The grounds were cleared of the debris left by the storm. About 1,260 feet of picket fence was built. A new gallery was built to the dwelling. The cistern was moved 30 feet and put on a new brick foundation. Various repairs were made.

1902 – Head of Passes East Jetty, on the easterly side of the upper entrance to South Pass, Mississippi River, Louisiana.—This beacon was carried away by the undermining of the jetty on which it stood. A temporary structure consisting of a post with a cross-arm was built a short distance away pending the repairs to the jetty, when the beacon will be rebuilt at former location.

1903 – Head of Passes, West Jetty, Louisiana.—Materials for a permanent structure were delivered, but the beacon was not built on account of high water in the Mississippi River.

1904 – Head of Passes, junction of South and Southwest passes. Mississippi River, Louisiana.—About 80 feet of plank walk 4 feet wide and another walk some 330 feet long and 2 feet wide were built. Various repairs were made.

1908 – Head of Passes, Louisiana: The keeper and assistant keeper live in one dwelling—3 rooms, kitchen, and dining room being assigned for the keeper's use, and 1 room, kitchen, and dining room for the use of the assistant keeper. There is sufficient room on the government reservation for the erection of another dwelling for the assistant keeper.

1915 – John W. St. G. Gibbon, keeper, Christian T. Thomasen, assistant, maintained light under trying conditions during hurricane.

1915 – John W. St. G. Gibbon, keeper, Christian T. Thomasen, assistant, brought man and boy to station and furnished them food and gasoline. Gasoline launch. Happened on October 9, 1915.

1917 – John W. St. G. Gibbon, keeper, and Christian T. Thomasen, assistant keeper, maintained lights and care for Government property under adverse conditions during hurricane. Happened on Sept. 28, 1917.

1918 – On March 9, Christian T. Thomasen, assistant keeper of Head of Passes Light Station, etc. La., rendered valuable assistance in helping extinguish a fire which threatened the destruction of Government property.

1919 – Keeper Albert Matulich awarded lighthouse efficiency flag for 1919.

1921 – Keeper Albert Matulich awarded efficiency flag for 1921.

1922 – Appropriation, March 28, 1918, $100,000, St. Marks Light Station, Fla.: Rebuilt 325 feet wharf; rebuilt walks and made repairs to outbuildings and dwelling. Crooked River Range Light Station, Fla.: Repaired wharf and walks and outbuildings. Head of Passes Light Station, La.: Rebuilt 705 feet wharf; repaired outbuildings and oil house. Cubits Gap Light Station, La.: Rebuilt walks and outbuildings and repaired dwelling. Barataria Bay Light Station, La.: Rebuilt 712 feet wharf; repaired roof of dwelling and outbuildings. Bayou Rigolets Entrance Lights Nos. 1 and 3, Louisiana: Rebuilt single pile structures. Harvey Cutoff Entrance Lights Nos. 2 and 4, Louisiana: Rebuilt single pile structures. Bayou Villars Light and Fog Signal Station, La.: Repaired foundation struts of fog-signal tower, also lantern post.

1923 – fog signal changed from bell operated by clockwork to air diaphone. Established diaphone fog signal, $6,127.

1929 – The fog signal tower as Head of Passes Light Station, La., was endangered on May 4 by extensive caving in the vicinity of the light station, caused by a steamer running into the bank. Griffin Sellars, foreman in charge, and the officers and crew of the lighthouse tender Aster, N. P. Jacobson, second officer, commanding, removed the fog signal apparatus from the station, working until midnight to accomplish this.

Keepers:

  • Head: A. Angel (1852 – 1853), Henry Hingle (1853 – at least 1859), James Fisher (1863 – 1864), Jessie Fisher (1864 – 1866), Charles Thompson (1866), Lawrence Larson (1886 – 1889), Louis G. Norvell (1889 – 1891), Mrgaret R. Norvell (1891 – 1896), Robert G. Miller (1896 – 1898), Patrick Karrigan (1898 – 1905), John Duffy (1905), William Wilson (1905 – 1906), Grace O'Brien (1906), Ralph Gordon (1906 – at least 1913), John W. St. G. Gibbon (at least 1915 – at least 1917), Albert Matulich (at least 1919 – at least 1921), Julius Snow (1928 – at least 1940).
  • First Assistant: Charles A. Thompson (1871 – 1875), Charles Barkman (1875 – ), Charles A. Thompson (1877 – ), Peter L. Anderson (1878 – 1879), Charles J. Anderson (1879 – 1883), Charles A. Thompson (1883 – 1884), Michael Coleman (1884), Lawrence Larson (1884 – 1886), Theodore Shields (1886), John Gondorf (1886), David B. Ahern (1886), Richard Attaway (1886 – 1887), Christian O.M. Berke (1887 – 1888), Rudolph Descovich (1888 – 1889), Hobert S. Horton (1889 – 1890), John A. Munch (1890 – 1891), Robert C. Gage (1891), Steaven F. Purgley (1892 – 1896), John Anderson (1896), George H. Arledge (1896), Willard W. Mitchell (1896 – 1898), Griffin Sellars (1898 – 1903), Annie Karrigan (1903), William J. O'Brien (1903), George Lory (1903 – 1905), William J. O'Brien (1905 – 1909), Parke J. White (1909 – 1910), Frederick A. Schrieber (1910 – 1912), Charles M. Teller (1912 – ), Thomas Zettwoch (at least 1913), Christian T. Thomassen (at least 1915 – at least 1918), Walter A. Williams (at least 1919), Steven Coludrovich (1920), Earl K. Wakefield (1924), Claude H. Stone (1928 – 1930), Richard N. Besselaar (1930 – 1931), Felix Hingle, Jr. (1931 – 1933), Clem J. Hingle (at least 1940).
  • Second Assistant: Henry Rehder (1878 – 1879), Charles J. Anderson (1879), Claude H. Stone (1928), Felix Hingle, Jr. (1930 – 1931), Willie D. Cooper (1934 – 1936), Steven Coludrovich (1936 – 1938), Carol A. Colombel (1939 – 1944).

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