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Timbalier Bay, LA  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Timbalier Bay Lighthouse

1856 – The light-house at Timbalier bay will be commenced as soon as the title to the site is approved.

1857 – The light-houses authorized to be built at the entrances to Barrataria and Timballier bays, and at the Sabine Pass, have been completed and the lights exhibited.

1858 – A fixed white light of the fourth order catadioptric of the system of Fresnel, has been exhibited from the octagonal white tower, recently erected on the west side of the Grand Pass of Timballier, at the entrance to the bay, Louisiana. The tower is built of brick, 55 feet high, and white-washed. The focal plane of the light is 60 feet above the mean level of the sea, and the light should be visible 13 nautical miles, in ordinary states of the atmosphere, from the deck of a vessel 15 feet above the water. Approximate position—Lat. 29° 04' North. Lou. 90° 16' 30" West of Greenwich. By order of the Lighthouse Board,

Inspector of Ninth L.H. District
GALVESTON, TEXAS, December 7, 1857.

1864 – Upon the occupation of the southern portion of Texas by the United States forces, application was made by the military authorities for the re-establishment of the lights at Point Isabel, Ship shoal, Point de Fer, Timballier, Aransas Pass, and Padre island. Measures were promptly inaugurated to ascertain the condition and necessities of these stations, and suitable illuminating apparatus has been sent out to be put in position when the requisite repairs shall have been completed.

1867 – Timbalier—This tower, built upon a low sand beach, near the point of Timbalier island, was encroached upon by the sea, so that in the early part of 1867 it was entirely surrounded by water. On February 9, information was received that the tower was in danger of falling, and on the 20th of the same month workmen were sent to take down the lens and establish a beacon light on top of the dwelling. The lens, a fourth-order fixed, was stored in the keeper's dwelling. On the 29th and 30th of March following, during a hurricane, the dwelling, together with the tower, and everything about the station, was levelled to the ground, and covered with from three to six feet of water. Everything belonging to the light-house, as well as the private property of the keepers, was lost. It seems but just that the keepers, who faithfully performed their duty, barely escaping with their lives, and living for some days in an iron can buoy, should be paid the actual value of their losses in clothing, &c, and an estimate therefor is submitted, with the recommendation that the requisite appropriation be made.

This station is too important to be long left without a light. A screw-pile light-house, of the third order, placed in shoal water inside the island, and sheltered by it from the sea, would be the most economical in the end, and an estimate of the cost of such a structure is herewith submitted for the action of Congress.

1868 – Timbalier bay.—In the last annual report the necessity for building a new screw-pile light-house in shoal water, inside the island, was urged. The remarks then made are again called to the attention of the Department.

1869 – Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—There is an appropriation for rebuilding the light-house (destroyed by a tornado) at this place. The work will be commenced at the earliest practicable day.

1870 – Timbalier Bay, coast of Louisiana.—The light-house at this point on the sea-coast of Louisiana was destroyed by a tornado, and Congress at its next session made an appropriation for rebuilding it, which however reverted to the treasury under the operations of the fifth and sixth sections of the act of July 12, 1870. This light is considered of so much importance to the commerce of the Gulf, and especially to that from and to Mobile, New Orleans, and the ports of Texas and Mexico, that application was made for the temporary employment of a small light-vessel until the new tower could be built, which had to be declined on account of the absence of authority to comply with the request. Although this light station is at the mouth of Timballier Bay, its importance to navigation consists in the fact that it is a sea-coast light, marking an important dark space, on that low coast off which there are dangerous shoals. A reappropriation of the money which reverted to the treasury has been asked and included in the annual estimates

1871 – Timbalier Island, intermediate between Nos. 342 and 343 of the Lighthouse List of 1871. – An iron screw-pile Light house, with focal plane one hundred and twenty-five feet above the sea, will be erected at this place. The land of the Government, upon which the old brick tower stood, has been entirely washed away. The island being uninhabited and subject to dangerous overflows, in fact a low, barren sand-reef, unfit for cultivation, no difficulty in obtaining a new site is apprehended. The new Light house will be placed in a convenient depth of water inside the island, which, in this case, will be an effectual breakwater. The location will also be at some distance from the eastern point of West Timbalier Island, (toward the west,) because the point is subject to abrasion. The bay affords secure shelter for the vessels used in construction. The plans for this Light-house are completed, and it will be soon under contract.

1872 – Timbalier, Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—A first-order iron tower, to be elevated on screw-piles, is under contract in the North. Its design is a skeleton frame-work with a spiral stairway inclosed by sheet-iron, giving access to the lantern, and provided with keeper's dwelling in the lower part of the tower. It will be placed in the water, under the lee of West Timbalier Island. As the available funds are insufficient to finish the erection of the building, it is deemed advisable to store the iron until an additional appropriation of $44,000 can be granted by Congress for its completion.

1873 – Timbalier, entrance to bay of Timbalier, Louisiana.—A small portion of the iron-work for this light-house was shipped from New York, and on its arrival at South West Pass, in June, was stored until the preparations for its erection could be completed.

The lumber and material for the construction of the platform, necessary to aid the work in its erection, was sent to the station by the light-house tenders Guthrie and Magnolia and landed on the beach convenient to the site. A working force was sent to the station early in July and the building of the platform was commenced immediately on their arrival; it is proposed to urge the work forward with all possible dispatch. It is intended that the platform shall be large enough to hold the ironwork of the tower, and give sufficient room for the quarters of the working party, thus dispensing with the necessity of keeping large vessels moored close to the work.

Previous to the definite location of the site of the light-house a thorough survey of West Timbalier Island and the surrounding waters was made, as in the absence of any correct charts the nature of the bay of Timbalier was almost unknown.

The funds at present available for the erection of the tower are inadequate for its completion, and an appropriation of $15,000 to complete it is recommended.

1874 – Timbalier, entrance to Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—The lumber and material required for the construction of the platform, to aid in the work of erecting this light house, was sent to the station early in the month of July, 1873, and work was immediately commenced. The platform was not fully completed until the month of December, 1873; operations being considerably delayed by the loss of portions of the piles and heavy timbers, which were washed away during the frequent occurrences of high water. On the completion of the platform and quarters for the working-party the light house tender Magnolia was sent to station from Southwest Pass with iron-work of the foundation and first series of the light-house. On her arrival, preparations were made for putting down the foundation-piles; this was successfully done during the month of January, 1874, and the erection of the light-house was rapidly carried on until the 19th day of February, at which date the main column and braces of the second series had been placed in position. The funds for the further prosecution of the work being exhausted, work was suspended on the above date, and the working-party discharged, a watchman being left at the station to take care of the public property. An additional appropriation of $15,000 for the completion of the light-house being made available by act of June 23, 1874, a working-party will be organized and dispatched to the station to resume operations. It is proposed to push the work forward to completion as rapidly as possible.

1875 -Timbalier, entrance to Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—An appropriation of $15,000 having been made by act of June 23, 1874, for completing this light, a working-party was dispatched to the station in July, 1874, and operations were resumed, the light-house was completely finished in January, 1875, and lighted for the first time on the evening of the 20th of that month. The structure is a screw-pile iron tower, having the keeper's dwelling in the lower part, and an inclosed stairway from the dwelling to the lantern. The focal plane is 111 feet above the sea-level. The lens apparatus is of the second order, showing a fixed white light varied by red flashes.

1881 – Timbalier, west side of Grand Pass, entrance to Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—Nine of the iron sockets were found to be cracked, and were repaired by banding them with heavy forged iron collars bolted together. The Iens was wedged up to revolve on a vertical axis. The tower is slightly out of plumb. The whole structure was coal-tarred outside and painted inside, and the wood-work was repaired. The station is in good order.

1882 – Timbalier, west side of Grand Pass, entrance to Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—New ruby glass for the flash-panels was sent to the station, which is in good order.

1883 – Timbalier, near the entrance to Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—Mineral-oil lamps were substituted for the lard-oil lamps formerly used, and various minor repairs were made. The station is in good order.

1888 – Timbalier, entrance to Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—This station was supplied with a new boat, the old one having been condemned as unseaworthy.

1894 – Timbalier, entrance to Timbalier Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana.—This light was undermined by the scouring of the channel, and on the morning of January 23, 1894, it canted over. The illuminating apparatus was saved in a damaged condition. An attempt was made to take the dismantled tower to pieces and save it, but owing to the inability of the light-house tender to approach near enough to the wreck, and the urgent need of her services elsewhere, the work was discontinued. The difficulty and expense of doing the work was such that it was decided that the wreck should be abandoned. A temporary square pyramidal structure was erected to show a fixed lantern light 30 feet above mean high water, on the north side of Timbalier Island, about 1 ½ miles west of the east end, but on the west side of Grand Pass, entrance to Timbalier Bay, Louisiana. A temporary dwelling for the keeper was also erected 30 feet from the beacon. The new beacon bears S.W. ½ W. distant one-half nautical mile from the wreck of Timbalier light-house. This light was exhibited for the first time on March 20,1894. The Board at its session May 7, 1894, decided that the requirements of navigation were not such as to justify the reestablishment of Timbalier light-station, but instead to use a lens-lantern light, similar to the one now in use at Head of the Passes, Louisiana, upon the beacon lately erected and used for the tubular lantern light now displayed, which can be done at an approximate cost of $250. Early measures will be taken for establishing such a light.

1898 – Timbalier, entrance to Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—An addition was made to the keeper's dwelling, consisting of two rooms, with gallery. A cistern was also put up on a pile foundation. A wharf 195 feet long and 8 feet wide, with a landing platform and steps leading to the water on the end, was built on 3-inch galvanized gas-pipe piles and 7-inch flanges, and cypress sills, capping, stringers, and flooring. A boathouse was built at the end. A room was built adjoining the addition for the storage of paints and oils.

1899 – Timbalier, entrance to Timbalier Bay. Louisiana.—Materials were delivered for use in repairs. The work will soon be commenced.

1900 – Timbalier, entrance to Timbalier Bay, Louisiana.—The wharf was extended out 330 feet. It is 8 feet wide and is fitted with a T at the end, 10 feet by 18 feet in plan. The boathouse was rebuilt near the end of the wharf in deeper water. The foundation of the keeper's dwelling was braced and spiked with 12-inch spikes. The oil house was braced with timber and spiked down to the foundation with 12-inch spikes. Various repairs were made.

1906 – Timbalier, northerly side of Timbalier Island, Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana.—Some 400 feet of wharf 7 ½ feet wide was built. Various repairs were made.

1915 – J.C. Gray, keeper, J.P. Anderson, assistant, keeper, maintained light under trying conditions during hurricane.

1917 – Bell operated by machinery established.

1917 – 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 hurricanes on the Gulf of Mexico. There is given below a list of the work that has been completed and that is in progress, in addition to which there is certain work that has not yet been reached, every effort having been made to restore aids to navigation before less important work was commenced. During the fiscal year the following portions of the work have been completed: Timbalier Lighthouse, La.: Built a new frame structure surmounted by tower and lantern, supported on 25 iron-cased creosoted piles, and established bell for fog signal struck by machinery.

1927 – Repairs due to hurricane damage: Five hundred tons riprap protection purchased, of which 147 tons were placed at the station by June 30.

1928 – Repairs due to hurricane damage: completed placing 475 tons additional riprap

1931 – A storm which struck the Louisiana coast on July 14 and 15 did considerable damaged at several light stations. At Pass Manchac Lighthouse the breakwater bulkhead was damaged and rock which had been placed alongside it washed out. The station launch was sunk but was later raised by the tender.

At Barataria Bay Lighthouse rock which was placed last year was washed away to some extent, and there was further caving in of the earth fill on which the tower rests.

At Timbalier Lighthouse the keeper reports that heavy rocks recently placed at this station were badly washed out by the seas, and that there is now a hole under the dwelling.

At Lake Borgne Lighthouse the wharf was slightly damaged, and at South Pass East Jetty Light there was some damage. Gulfport Channel Light Buoy No. 2, Miss., sank at its moorings but was later recovered.

1939 – Timbalier Bay Lighthouse was automated.

1985 – Hurricane Juan destroyed the 1917 Timbalier Bay Lighthouse.


  • Head: Elijah Chester (1857 – 1859), W. Taylor (1859), Jacob Lottmann (1859), Louis Alley (1859), William Douglas (1859), Thomas C. Barton (1865 – 1866), B. C. Miller (1866 – ), F. Collins (1875 – 1876), John Anderson (1876 – 1877), Richard A. Fitzgerald (1877 – 1881), William Munck (1881 – 1884), David Conners (1884 – 1885), Cornelius Canty (1885 – 1898), Fred Tredup (1898 – 1905), Joseph B. Brockenborough (1905 – 1906), William H. Oliver (1906 – 1908), John C. Gray (1908 – at least 1921), Eddie M. Authemont (at least 1935 – at least 1941).
  • First Assistant: John Smith (1857 – ), Dennis Lottmann (1859), E. Trass (1859), William E. Douglas (1859), Jacob Sheets (1865 – 1867), Frank Hilton (1867 – ), John Anderson (1875 – 1876), Richard A. Fitzgerald (1877), Charles S. Wilson (1877), Daniel Lynch (1877 – 1880), David Conners (1880 – 1881), William Munck (1881), David Conners (1881 – 1884), Cornelius Canty (1884 – 1886), John Shea (1885 – 1890), Prosper Falgout (1890 – 1895), John D. Cooper (1895 – 1898), Charles J. Keyworth (1898 – 1900), John M. Mary (1900 – 1905), Wallace Rhodes (1905), Ellis Guidry (1905), Ellis C. Guidry (1905 – 1906), William Waits (1906 – 1907), John C. Gray (1907 – 1908), F. Couvillier (1908 – 1911), William Nash (1911 – at least 1912), John P. Anderson (at least 1913 – at least 1915), Harvey H. Holdeman (1916 – 1917), Daniel Griffin (at least 1919), Forrest J. Griffin (at least 1921), John F. Ganaway (1932 – 1938).
  • Second Assistant: James Broe (1875 – 1876), John Ayena (1876), R. A. Fitzgerald (1877), J.M. Sturzenegger (1877 – 1879), Cornelius Canty (1879 – 1880), William Munck (1880 – 1881), Johnny Johnson (1881), David Conners (1881), Henry M. Mayo (1881), Cornelius Canty (1881 – 1884), William Devoe (1884 – 1885), Samuel Church (1885), John R. Belanger (1885 – 1889), Prosper Falgout (1889 – 1890), Richard L. Powers (1890 – 1891), John D. Cooper (1891 – 1895), Ursin J. Carlin (1895 – 1897), Steaven F. Purgley (1897), Gaston J. Abribat (1897).

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