Approaching light from landing, 1996
Before boarding over windows, July 1997
Crack in tower wall, July 1997
Interior stairs, July 1997
Interior view of door, July 1997
Interior view, July 1997
Light tower, July 1997
Rubble from light keeper's house, July 1997
Exterior view, July 1997
Side view of tower, July 1997
Rear view of tower, July 1997
Top of tower, July 1997
View from inside lantern room, July 1997
Side view of tower crack, July 1997
Rescuing the Light
As the pre-restoration photos show, the tower had long been neglected and the U. S. Coast Guard had destroyed the keeper's home and all attendant outbuildings. It would have soon destroyed the tower itself had not F.N.I.L. been formed by Ed Greaves to take over its restoration and maintenance. Sturdy as she was, the tower was rapidly deteriorating, the home of birds and sheep.
Pressure washing with fresh water pumped up from well 600 feet away
Our principal pressure washer was Wesley Niebling, master stone mason and nephew of Susan Hammond.
July 18, 2014.
July 19, 2014.
Dick Miles tuck-pointing
July 19, 2014.
Dick Miles doing brick repair and tuck-pointing
More of the same
July 19, 2014.
We're using "Thin-set" mortar, which has a slight capacity to expand and contract, unlike the original mortar which, harder than the brick, can cause "spalling", or crack the tower's brick when, with absorbed moisture, they expand.
Wesley applying the KEIM.
The sharp reflection of sunlight off the fresh KEIM required eye protection.
July 25, 2014.
Wes rolling on a second coat
July 26, 2014.
July 31, 2014.
From the water she glows!
Nathan Hendrie (from his video)
From atop Pigeon Hill in Steuben, 16 miles away, one can view Nash Island Light's tower shining.
August 12, 2014.
After assuming title from the Government in '97, F.N.I.L.'s first task was to clean and restore the tower, cupola, entryway and repair or replace all windows and doors. The flashing had corroded on the roof where the entryway connects to the tower, so its interior was thickly slathered with mildew which had to be removed. The entryway itself required a new roof, and extensive cleaning and airing of the stairs and cupola were necessary. Then, after much scraping, wire-brushing and re-pointing, the masonry was re-coated three times, the deck and cupola re-painted along with windows, doors and concrete base. Front steps to the entrance were built from granite lintels and stone rubble salvaged from the keeper's dwelling, and deteriorating concrete walkways were broken up and removed.
The only significant source of fresh water on the island is from a 6' dug well near the landing about 600 feet from the tower. We ran hose and could pump about 150 gallons into 55 gallon drums before the well would run dry. It required overnight to recover, and always did. The fresh water enabled us to remove by pressure washing the years of accumulated fungus and organic growth on the surface of the tower. We videoed the entire process for the benefit of future stewards.
Because of the harsh weather conditions where the Light is situated, the tower takes an annual beating. We've found football-sized rocks on the deck. Experimenting with various products, we re-coated the tower again in '02, '06, '10 and '14, most recently with a product called KEIM with which we touch-up in a few places every summer.