Back in Week Six, I questioned the term “blog”. We’ve all heard about ship’s logs and more relative to Seguin, a lightkeeper’s log book. From the very start, this has always been one of the duties of a keeper. They were required to keep track & note all activity at the station, including maintenance, repairs, visitors, comprehensive weather details, and certainly any rescue or other mariner events nearby. In keeping with the tradition, caretakers at Seguin have always been asked to keep a log book during their stay. In our museum there are binders full of these logs – its interesting to observe how they change over the years. Some are very official and factual, some quite personal.
Very recently, in 1997, the term “web-log” came about, describing the process of keeping a log on the web. As it gained popularity as a sort of public journaling or giving voice to opinions, the term was shortened to ”blog” in 1999 by a programmer. At that time it was estimated there were 23 blogs on the internet. In 2004, Merriam-Webster declared it the new “word of the year”. By 2006, there were 50 million blogs out there!
And now here we are, writing our own blog. Would never have guessed it just a few years ago!
The museum here on Seguin has been a continual resource for information. We still have not read all the photo boards that have recently created a new look for this historical gem. Congratulations go to Chris Hall, a FOSILS board member. Bringing a background in Library Science and a 17-year career at Maine Maritime Museum (MMM), including time as Curator of Exhibits, Chris took on the project of upgrading our museum. Two years were spent researching and designing the new graphic panels. All photography and information from the original 1990s museum was scanned, allowing the various framed prints to be archived in Bath, away from the unforgiving winter weather on island. Additional material from MMM, Coast Guard families, and digitized lighthouse correspondence available from the National Archives has created a historical wonderland. It is a must visit when you come to Seguin.
One of our most important artifacts does not quite fit inside. In 1858, just a year after Seguin tower was completed, the 1,200-pound cast steel Sheffield fog bell arrived on the island accompanied by its own striking system. Unfortunately the striker kept breaking and the bell had to be rung for hours, even days on end by hand. Remember, Seguin is one of the foggiest places in North America! By 1870 an elaborate plan was devised to instead haul coal to the top of the island to run a steam engine powering a whistle. This led to another whistle installed in 1876, requiring the construction of a fog signal house and a tram car, forever changing the characteristics of Seguin Island. The upkeep and improvements to the tram has been a continuous challenge over the years to keep it safe. Unfortunately the current goal of returning the tram to full operation will not happen soon enough to carry our weekly supplies, sigh…
Anyway, back to the bell. When the USCG decommissioned Seguin Light Station in 1985, the bell was removed from the island. A year later, FOSILS was formed and leased the 64 acre island until 1995 when they reached a purchase agreement. Their task is to preserve the history of this still operating lighthouse. The existence of a bell was known, but several attempts to find it failed. The return of the bell in 2015, nearly 30 years from the time it was removed, was the culmination of a 3 year effort to first find and then prove ownership. It created quite a sight when it was airlifted by helicopter from Boothbay Harbor USCG Way Station and set down on its current perch near the house and museum, where it originally sat. Quite an accomplishment, FOSILS!
The days are flying by faster every week. The boat ride into Popham this week was quite a bit calmer than our ride to the island last Thursday, lol. It was a tough morning for us, saying farewell to our kids. We had some time in Bath for a leisurely breakfast at Mae’s Cafe & Bakery. Mmmnn – wonderful omelets and benedicts, accompanied by tasty Bellini’s to celebrate an unforgettable visit. Bummer – Mae’s is closed on Wednesday’s – we got lucky coming in on a Tuesday. Almost worth trading our days off island! ; ))
We had perfect weather for their visit – they got a sample of rain, winds, fog, clouds and plenty of sunshine. They hiked every trail, tried a little fishing and managed to swim most every day. We watched a very young seal come up on the rocks in the cove, rest overnight and head out in the morning. We weren’t sure if it was in distress, so called Maine Marine Animal and sent photos. They had us keep an eye out, but were fairly certain it was just tired. We had help overnight from a couple moored in the cove. The young pups often head out on their own early in life and wear themselves out! And that was indeed the case. Thank goodness!
Sunday was pretty hectic with close to 30 morning visitors, so they decided to prepare and serve us a delicious brunch. What a treat to be pampered on a busy day! And of course every evening finished off with a game or two of cards and a stroll outside under the light. We even tried to stay up for the August Perseid showers, but our pillows called to us while the mosquitoes chased us inside. We’re so happy that we had the chance to share this island adventure with Jamie & Michael.
I just wish their return flights were as much fun! After a smooth trip from Portland to Chicago, they ran into storms there and ended up having to stay overnight in Chicago (after being in that horrible airport game – a short delay, just a bit longer, well, maybe an hour. Let’s board! Oh, we’ll just sit out here and head out quickly, an hour later, sorry flight has been cancelled) And then after seeing more flights cancelled the next day, finally got a flight to Denver, then connected to Seattle on standby. Arrive home at midnight after 2 days! We’ve all had this experience, I know – it’s horrible! I’m exhausted just telling the story!
But we’re still thrilled they came and will remember this special visit a long time.
Catch ya next week!