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St. Joseph's Island, MS  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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St. Joseph's Island Lighthouse

1837 – A light-house and keeper's house on St. Joseph's island, in Lake Borgne. Sites have not yet been obtained for the light-houses at a pass between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, and on St. Joseph's island. The collector at New Orleans, however, is pursuing his inquiries on the subject, and will soon make the result known.

1857 – No titles have been obtained as yet to the sites of the lights authorized on St. Joseph's island, Southwest cape, St. George's sound, at Proctorsville, Amite river, or at St. Andrew's bay.

1859 – The light has not yet been shown at St. Joseph's, the land on which it was built not belonging to the United States. The tower is sinking into the mud, and the island is gradually washing away.

1862 – Steps have been taken to repair damage done to the lights at Ship island, Cat island, St. Joseph's, Pleasanton head, Proctorsville, Rigolets, Bon Tonea, Port Pontchartrain, Bayou St. John, New Canal, Tchefuucti river, and Pass Manchac, and it is hoped and expected that by the 1st of January, 1863, all of these lights will be re-exhibited. The other lights and the buoys in this district will be restored as rapidly as circumstances shall warrant.

1865 – The following stations have been repaired and refitted during the year, and are now in operation: Ship shoal, Shell keys, Southwest reef, St. Joseph's, Round island, (Miss.,) Sand island, Bolivar Point and Padre island; and others are in course of refitting, and it is expected that in a few months most of those unlighted will be in full course of useful operation.

1867 – St. Joseph's island—This wooden structure rested upon nine brick columns, eight feet in height. These were founded upon timbers laid upon the surface, which, under the action of the superincumbent weight, sunk several feet. The island is very low, regularly overflowed in high tides, and the soil is soft mud, into which a pole can easily be thrust to a depth of twenty feet. The timber foundations were renewed in 1864, but have since been nearly destroyed by worms, and six of the brick supporting columns have been washed away, their places being supplied by wooden shores.

The necessary repairs had just been commenced, when the breaking out of the yellow fever put a stop to the work, and it has not yet been renewed.

The expense of securing a foundation here is so great that it may eventually become necessary to abandon the site and transfer the station to a point on the south side of the channel, about eight hundred yards south of the present position, in eight feet of water, with a hard sand bottom, where a screw pile lighthouse could easily be built. If the present station is maintained, the foundation will have to be rebuilt about once in two years, as the timbers are completely destroyed by worms in that time.

1868 – St. Joseph's island.—This island had washed away to considerable extent and it was found necessary to move the structure further back, about 25 feet from its former position. Nine piles were driven to a depth of nearly 60 feet in the positions to be occupied by the new piers. The ground around these piles was excavated as far as practicable and surrounded by brick masonry, thus completely protecting the wooden piles from the influence of the atmosphere and damage by worms. The piers are two and a half feet square and connected by diagonal tension rods of two and a half inch iron. Outside the foundation of the lighthouse a breakwater was built to protect it from the wash of the sea in southeast winds, which are the only ones capable of doing any damage. The space under the house between and around the piers was filled up with concrete. The station is now being painted and at the same time five panes of lantern glass will be put in, some of which may have been broken during the operation of moving the house back to its present position.

The work done is of the most substantial character and will probably preserve the light-house for a long time.

1869 – St. Joseph's Island, Mississippi.—The condition of this light is good, but the outhouses and wharf were destroyed by the last September gale. The necessary repairs will be made without avoidable delay.

1872 – Saint Joseph's Island, Mississippi Sound, Mississippi.—The lighthouse, a substantial wooden structure, resting on five wooden piles, situated 300 feet north of the most southerly point of the island, a low, marshy plat of land, about half a mile long, and not 400 feet wide in the broadest part, about eight acres in extent, elevated only 3 feet above low water, is in danger of destruction from the abrasion of the eastern shore of the island by the action of the waves. It had been previously attempted to preserve the lighthouse by a riprapping of 120 tons of brick from the old Cat-Island tower, and spreading thereon 54 cubic yards of concrete, but this proving insufficient, it is now proposed to build a breakwater around from the north to the south sides, about 275 feet in length, as the only economical means of protecting it. The breakwater will be of palmetto piles, (the only kind of wood which resists the attack of the sea-worm in this latitude,) bound on its inner and outer faces with string-pieces, and securely braced at intervals of 12 feet with palmetto logs, abutting against piles of the same. A contract to build the breakwater at the rate of $13 per foot has been submitted and approved by the board, and the work is to be completed not later than the 1st of February next.

1873 – Saint Joseph's Island, entrance to Lake Borgne, Louisiana.—The palmetto-pile breakwater proposed for this station has been built. It has three sides facing around from northeast to the southeast, and meeting each other at angles of 120°. It has a total length of 260 feet. No farther danger is now apprehended from the denudation of the land around the lighthouse.

1878 – Saint Joseph's Island, Mississippi Sound, Mississippi.—The foundation is in an unsafe condition, caused by the breaking up and dislodgment of the concrete which surrounds the piers supporting the structure, and the removal by the sea of a large part of the ballast placed some years ago to protect the foundation. The Palmetto Breakwater, built in 1872, is not in its present condition a sufficient protection, the opening between the piles being so large that it offers but little resistance to the sea, which beats against the foundation of the structure, and it is not of sufficient length. The building is surrounded by water and unprotected on the west side. The station is an important one, being in the track of vessels plying between the ports on the Mississippi Sound, Mobile and Pensacola Bays, and New Orleans, by the way of Pontchartrain. An appropriation of $20,000 is recommended for the erection of a fourth order screw-pile light-house to be placed on the south side of the channel between Grand island and Saint Joseph's Island.

1879 – Saint Joseph's Island, Mississippi Sound, Mississippi.—The foundation of this light-house is in an unsafe condition, rendered so by the breaking up and dislodgment of the concrete which surrounds the brick piers supporting the structure, and the removal by the sea of a greater portion of the ballast placed some years ago to protect the foundation. The palmetto breakwater, built in 1872, in its present condition (and yearly becoming less serviceable) is not considered a safe protection. The openings between the piles are so large that it offers but little resistance to the sea which beats against the foundation of the structure, and it is not of sufficient length. The building is surrounded by water and unprotected on the west side. The station is an important one, being in the track of vessels plying between the ports on the Mississippi Sound, Mobile and Pensacola Bays, and New Orleans, by way of Lake Pontchartrain. An appropriation of $20,000 is recommended for the erection of a fourth-order screw-pile light-house, to be placed on the south side of the channel, between Grand Island and Saint Josephs Island. It will be necessary to protect the present structure by repairing and extending the breakwater to insure its permanency, until an appropriation is available for the erection of a new light-house, herein recommended.

1880 – Saint Joseph's Island, Mississippi Sound, Mississippi.—The following remarks, contained in the last annual report, are repeated:

The foundation of the light-house is in an unsafe condition, rendered so by the breaking up and dislodgment of the concrete which surrounds the brick piers supporting the structure, and the removal by the sea of a greater portion of the ballast placed some years ago to protect the foundation. The palmetto breakwater, built in 1872, in its present condition (and yearly becoming less serviceable) is not considered of any protection whatever; the openings between the piles are so large as to offer but little resistance to the sea, which beats against the foundation of the structure. The building is surrounded by water, and entirely unprotected on the west side. This station is an important one, being in the track of vessels plying between the ports on the Mississippi Sound, Mobile and Pensacola Bays, and New Orleans, by way of Lake Pontchartrain.

It is thought that by building a sheet pile-dam of creosoted timbers between the dwelling and the breakwater, but entirely surrounding the light-house, and then repairing the concrete foundation of the structure, that the site can be effectually protected for many years. The estimated cost of doing this is $4,000.

1881 – Saint Joseph's Island, entrance to lake Borgne, Louisiana.—A new breakwater was built entirely around the house; the dwelling was painted throughout,a new wharf was built, a new cistern was furnished, and the boat-house and dwelling were repaired. The station is in good order.

1882 – Saint Joseph's Island, entrance to Lake Borgne, Louisiana.—Mineral-oil lamps were fitted to this station, which is in good order.

1884 – Saint Joseph's Island, on south end of Saint Joseph's Island, entrance to Lake Borgne, Mississippi.—All the braces supporting the breakwater fastened to the foundation of the light-house were removed; fifteen new 12 by 12 inch piles were driven, sixteen new braces were fastened to these piles at both ends with 1-inch iron bolts, and various minor repairs were made.

1886 – Saint Joseph's Island, entrance to Lake Borgne, Mississippi.—This island is rapidly washing away. An inspection and estimates showed that it was more economical to build a new light on Grand Island, near Saint Joseph's Island, than to renew and keep in repair the breakwater surrounding the present light. The Board recommends the erection of a new light at Grand Island as soon as funds shall be available.

1887 – St. Joseph's Island, near the south end of St. Joseph's Island, entrance to Lake Borgne, Mississippi.—This island is fast washing away, and it is impracticable to rebuild or attempt to save the station. The Board decided to take the proper steps for the establishment of a light on Lower Point Clear, on the main-land, in the place of the light now on St. Joseph's Island. It will cost about $8,000 to build the new structures, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made for that purpose.

1888 - St. Joseph's Island, entrance to Lake Borgne, Mississippi Sound, Mississippi.—This station was condemned and will be abandoned as soon as the new station at Lower Point Clear, Mississippi, is built to take its place. A new boat was supplied this station to replace one worn out.

1889 – St. Joseph's Island, entrance to Lake Borgne, Mississippi.—The illuminating apparatus and lantern were taken down and put in a storehouse and an eight-day lantern was put on top of the station. The station was pronounced unsafe and practically abandoned, the keeper living at Bay St. Louis and going to the station by boat to attend to the eight-day lantern. This station will be entirely discontinued in two months or less, upon the completion of the Lake Borgne station.

1890 — St. Joseph's Island, entrance to Lake Borgne, Mississippi.—The eight day lantern displayed from the roof of the keeper's dwelling at this station was discontinued on September 1, 1889, the new light at Lake Borgne taking its place. The keeper's dwelling remains standing as a day-mark.

Keepers:

  • Head: Asa Russ (1856), W.E. Proteus (1856 – 1861), W. C. Riding (1861 – 1865), Charles Henderson (1865), John Stroband (1865 – 1867), Samuel Whipple (1867 – 1869), Hiram Patterson (1869 – 1870), Riley Hill (1870), Harry G. Plunkett (1870 – 1880), M. B. Ross (1880 – 1888), Robert A. Dimitry (1888 – 1889).
  • Assistant: James Henderson (1865), Stephen J. Jarvis (1865 – 1867), John H. Hanson (1867 – 1868), Hiram Patterson (1869 – 1869), Lorenzo Morachi (1869), Christo Wheeler (1869), Peter Kennedy (1869 – 1870), Charles Brown (1870), James Brown (1870 – 1871), James Plunkett (1871), James Holden (1871 – 1873), Robert Butler (1873 – 1876), M.B. Ross (1876 – 1880), Paul Benoit (1881), Joseph P. Groux (1881), Charles Chadwick (1881 – 1882), George Talbot (1882), Joseph P. Groux (1882 – ).

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