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to keep it to windward. For instance, with a southerly wind, bound to Boston, we make Cape Cod; with a northerly wind, bound to Boston, we make Cape Ann.

Foreign light-houses are generally located on commanding eminences with rocky foundations, when possible to obtain them. I have inspected personally the light-houses of Malaga, Genoa and Gibraltar; noticed nothing very peculiar in their construction as regards internal machinery. They burn olive oil, which is much cleaner and makes less smoke than sperm. Never knew a case of delinquency at home or abroad as to lighting up at evening or putting out at proper time in the morning.

The channel lights of England and France I consider to be the most brilliant and useful of any in the world: cannot give a detailed description, as I have not visited them on shore. We have no lights equal to them, or to the light of Genoa.

The best seacoast lights of the United States are Boston, Navesink and Tybee island; yet they do not compare favorably with the first class lights of Europe. By actual observation I have seen the light of Genoa fortyeight miles.

There is a want of system in the arrangement of our lights, particularly on the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts, which often embarrass strangers and timid navigators. Plymouth lights, for instance, are so near together that they appear as one light, except at a short distance, say seven miles. I have no faith in them.

Our light vessels break adrift so frequently that prudent commanders coming from sea will not run for them, except with fine weather and good observations. That of "Martin's Industry" is considered the safest to depend upon.

The light-ships of the North sea are the most secure, yet they cannot always keep their places.

Spar buoys only can be used with advantage in the icy rivers and harbors of the North. Iron can-buoys, like those of Savannah river, answer a very good purpose. I think that staffs in them would add to their utility.

Beacons and landmarks would be very useful on the low and level coasts of the United States in the gulf of Mexico and Florida, where few if any now exist. To answer for seamarks they should be high enough to overtop the brushwood that grows along shore.

General Remarks.

It cannot be denied that the light-houses of the United States are very inferior structures, compared with those of other commercial nations. One of the most important on the coast (Cape Cod) is built of miserable brick, and is already going to decay. I have known more than one light-house (contract built) that has tumbled to the ground before it was ever lighted. They are sadly deficient in altitude, strength and durability.

In my humble judgment these edifices should be built of solid stone masonry, wherever the soil will admit of such. They should have sufficient base, and an altitude of at least ninety feet, and a platform round the top, just below the lantern, (with an iron railing,) which would make it useful as a look-out station, for taking observations, and facilitate the cleaning of the outside of the lantern.

Older and wiser heads may offer more lucid information on these subjects, but none will be more happy to advance the objects of the board than

Your obedient servant,

Lieutenant T. A. JENKINS, U. S. Navy,
Secretary Light-house Board.


B-No. 66.

Letter from Captain Robert E. Little.

NEW YORK, May 21, 1852.

SIR: I had the honor to receive a communication from you relative to my observation of lights, &c.

Answer to question 4.-The French lights are the best, the English the next, and the American are the last. I never saw a West Indian light. Question 5.-The Highland lights are the best that I have seen in this country, and they are inferior to any first-class light elsewhere.

Question 6.-How do the lights on the coasts of the United States compare with those of Europe, &c., in their characteristic distinctions?


Question 7—How do the light-vessels on the coast of the United States compare with those of Great Britain as to usefulness, certainty of position, brilliancy and range of light?

Answer. Not to be depended upon.

Question 8.-How does the system of buoys, beacons and sea-marks of the United States compare with that of Great Britain?


The lights on Pedra Branca (Singapore Straits) and Cape L'Agulhas are good lights, and in very important situations, and when lighted, the one in the fourth point of Java will be of great service.

The light on Cape Frio is of little use, it being so high is often obscured; Raza Island light is a good one and of great service in making the harbor of Rio.

With much respect your obedient servant,

Lieut. T. A. JENKINS, U. S. N.,


Secretary of the Light-house Board.

B-No. 67.

Letter from Professors Peirce, Lovering and Horsford, of Harford University, Massachusetts.

CAMBRIDGE, January 9, 1850.

We have examined with some care the drawings of Mr. Wilson and Dr. Meacham, and the method which they are intended to illustrate of improv

ing upon the light-houses in the United States. It is well known that the light-house system of this country is at present very defective and compares very unfavorably with those of foreign countries, particularly France. At the same time it must be apparent that the commercial interests of the country, as well as the safety of all who navigate our waters, will be seriously affected by the character of the lights which are stationed along our coast, and in our rivers and lakes. On this account we believe that any proposition to improve upon the existing system, which combines simplicity and a great economy with that degree of efficiency which should characterize all the operations which aim to protect our large commerce, is deserving of a deliberate hearing and of a fair experimental trial. The plan of Messrs. Wilson and Meacham has impressed us favorably in this respect, and we believe that any gentlemen who have the ability to assist them in an experiment which is beyond the means of a single individual, will have done much towards furnishing the protection so much wanted, and deserve the gratitude of the community.

No portion of the country is more interested in the subject than this community, and none, probably, could be appealed to in any question of public interest with better prospects of success.


B-No. 68.

Letter from Captain William Wylie, commanding steamship City of Glasgow.

May 26, 1852.

SIR: In reply to your circular I have to inform you that our ship makes six voyages per year between Liverpool and Philadelphia.

The lights I run for are Cape Henlopen bound to Philadelphia and Cape Clear and Kinsale bound to Liverpool; both Cape Henlopen and Cape May lights are good, but cannot be seen at so great a distance as either Cape Clear or Kinsale. Cape Clear is a revolving and Kinsale fixed. The best lights I think in the South channel are Cape Clear, Kinsale, Tuskar and Holyhead. I do not know on what principle they are lighted, only that three are revolving and one is fixed.

The lights upon Cape Henlopen and Cape May I do not think could be better placed. The light-ship on five fathom bank I do not consider good; the light is not made plain enough. I consider the buoys and beacons on the coast of Great Britain to be much superior to those on the coast of the United States, and more especially in the river Delaware, which river I consider to be open to very great improvements, both for lights and for buoys.

Your obedient servant,

Lieut. T. A. JENKINS, U. S. N.,


Secretary to Light-house Board.

B-No. 69.

Letter from Captain J. Johnston, commanding the ship Isaac Bell.

MOBILE, June 1, 1852.

SIR: I am happy to find that the important subject of light-houses has at length attracted the attention of our government. In answer to the queries submitted, I give the following answers, viz:

1. For the last eighteen years I have made six passages per annum between New York and Havre, besides making two voyages to Mobile and thence to Havre.

2. I run for Scilly, Lizard, Start point, Casquets, La Hague, Barfleur and La Heve, on the coasts of Europe, Montauk, Fire island and Highland lights, Sandy Hook and Barnegat on our coast.

3. The British lights are lighted with great regularity at sunset; the French not so regularly, i. e. from half an hour to one hour frequently elapses after sunset, which is often the case with our lights.

4. The general character of our lights will not compare with either the British or French lights in brilliancy or distance seen, with the exception perhaps of the Highland lights; the difference may be particularly remarked in passing through the gulf of Florida; the British lights on Abaco, Gunkey, and Double-headed Shot-key, can be seen, I should say, double the distance of our lights on the Florida reef.

5. Highland lights and the light on Mobile point will compare well with the lights of the first magnitude abroad.

6. The European lights are exceedingly well distinguished, so as to render a mistake almost impossible. My observation of our lights being confined to Long Island, renders it impossible to answer more fully.

7. The English light-vessels I have always found at their stations, viz: the floating light on "Seven Stones," on the "Owers," the Nab light, &c. On the contrary I have frequently found the floating light off Sandy Hook removed under pretence of repairs, gales of wind, &c., so that, as a general rule, no dependance can be placed on it.

8. The buoys of Great Britain have the advantage in not being removed by the ice, which is frequently the case in New York harbor.

I think if a light could be placed on the south shoal of Nantucket many shipwrecks might be prevented, as I am convinced that many vessels are lost there, which are never heard from.

I remain, sir, your obedient servant,

Lieut. T. A. JENKINS, U. S. N.,

Secretary to Light-house Board.

B-No. 70.

Letter from Captain Samuel S. Harding, commanding ship Robert Harding, of Boston.

MOBILE, June 2, 1852.

SIR: In reply to your letter of queries on the subject of lights, I am happy to learn that this important subject has at length attracted the atten


tion of our government, and to your several queries I return you pleasure the following answers:

1. For the past twenty years I have made, as master of an American ship, two voyages (four passages) per annum between ports in the United States and Europe; principally from Mobile and New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico, and returning to Boston, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and New York, and then south to the gulf again.

2. I generally run for Scilly, Lizard, Start, Casquet, La Hague, Barfleur and La Heve lights in the English channel; Cape Clear, Kinsale, Tuskar, Bardsey and Holy Head lights in the St. George's channel, and on our own coast, Boston light, Highland (Cape Cod) light, Montauk, east end of Long Island, and Highland lights, (Navesink) New York.

3. All the British lights are lighted with the greatest regularity at sundown, and continued burning in all their greatest brilliancy until sunrise. The French and the American lights are not kept with the same regularity, as sometimes I have noticed from half to three-quarters of an hour elapse after sunset before they were lighted.

4. Our lights as a general thing will not make any sort of comparison with the British or French lights, as to brilliancy or distance to be seen. Boston light, Highland, (Cape Cod) Highlands of Navesink, are those which, according to my observations, come the nearest in brilliancy and distance to be seen, to those of the English and French lights. In sailing through the gulf this difference can be particularly noticed, as Hole-in-the Wall, Gun-key, Double-headed Shot-key, are all fine second class English lights; while those on the Florida side have been of the most miserable order. I am happy to say that the new lantern at Tortugas now exhibits a good light which will compare with the English on the other side of the "stream," and I am told (not having seen it) that the new light at Carysfort reef is a good one.

5. Boston lights, Highland lights and Mobile Point, will compare nearest to lights of first magnitude on the English and French coasts.

6. The European lights are so well managed and defined that it is next to impossible for mistakes to occur, and their light-ships are always on their stations; and the one off the Salter's island and rocks in St. Georges' channel, and Seven Stones, English channel, are the most exposed to bad weather, strong gales and heavy riding, of any I know of; and yet they are always safe to run for, while on our coast no sensible man would think of running for a light-boat in thick weather, for the chances would be equal, whether or not she would be found at her sation.

8. I am not prepared to speak of buoys, but think we are greatly deficient in buoys and beacons, in comparison with England and France.

I think we ought to have a light-ship placed off the south shoal of Nantucket, and it would no doubt save yearly many wrecks and valuable lives; we ought also to have more lights on the Florida coast along the reef between Carysfort reef and Key West, a dangerous navigation, and where ships with valuable cargoes are continually passing along; and if the gov ernment would discontinue many of the now almost useless lights on the coast from New York to Eastport and light up Florida reefs, it would certainly be a great benefit to the commercial world.

I remain, sir, yours truly,

Lieut. T. A. JENKINS,

Secretary to Light-house Board.


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