Life Lines, August 2019

Life Lines, August 2019

U.S. Life Saving Service Heritage Association

Erie Canal at Otswego, NY Photo Credit: Otswego Web Page

Since our annual membership meeting will be in Rochester, New York, I’m continuing to seed the minds of our readers to consider meeting in September for the annual conference.  Summer is winding down on the Great Lakes and I hope you are planning your trip to join us in Rochester at the end of September. View The 2019 Annual Conference Information


Welcome to Life Lines the monthly newsletter for our members of the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association.  For those of you reading and have yet to join, please consider doing so. Your membership will get you access to the station inventory link and our new venture to create a “Surfmans’ Data Base.”   If you would like to join please go to

Other ways you can support our organization is to volunteer your time to one of the committees:  membership, research, publications, grants, station inventory, surfmens’ registry, and also offering your time to be on the board of directors.  If you are interested in any of these opportunities please contact President, Mark Perni [email protected] who can direct you to the chairman of each of these committees. 

Most jobs can be done through email, and meetings are hosted through a conferencing center 800 telephone number, so meetings are done from the comfort and convenience of your home.  Of course, we are looking for board members who will travel each year to the annual meetings, but attendance at every one is not a requirement.  Board members can call in to the meetings to participate and still cast their votes.  If being on the board sounds like an opportunity you would like to explore, please reach out to us, by contacting Mark Perni [email protected] who can give you more information.

Thank you to all who contacted Steve Marthouse to volunteer with the Surfmens’ Registry.  He has a number of researchers who are now combing through archives helping him to complete this task.  If you are interested and still have not reached out to Steve you can do so:

Steve Marthouse

Cell: (717) 552-3452

[email protected]

Publications Now Available as Print-on-Demand

The two books that the USLSSHA produced are now available by print-on-demand at  Search for either “They Had to Go Out” or “Rescue: The Stories of the U.S. Life-Saving Service” edited by John Galluzzo.  If you have not added these two books to your library here is your chance to do so.








Chronology of Coast Guard History

If you were looking for a link to a chronology of Coast Guard History here is that link.  I will leave it permanently on Life Lines for you to access each month. I found this really useful and interesting.

More Good News from Kittery, Maine and the Wood Island Station

Photo Credit: Wood Island Life Saving Station Association


The news from Wood Island Station continues to be outstanding and impressive.   The Maine Army National Guard has come and gone and built the exceptionally impressive new south sea wall and installed the new “wreck pole”.   Thank you to the Guard! 

Check out the local links to see the coverage that was given to this project.  Keep in mind that the 2020 annual meeting will be to see this site.

 Boston Globe:
Check Out The Boston Globe

News Center Maine Channel 6:

Check Out News Center Maine Channel 6

Check out the drone surveys by Dave Seavey:

Surveys all done with some fun music while you watch.

Historic Drill Re-enactment Set at Indian River Life-Saving Station, Delaware

A 19th century rescue technique known as the breeches buoy system allowed surfmen to save shipwreck victims without leaving shore.


The staff of Delaware Seashore State Park will re-enact a 19th century shipwreck rescue drill at the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum at 5:30 p.m., Thursdays, Aug. 1 and 15.

The U.S. Life-Saving Service, the precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard, was established in 1871 in response to the tremendous loss of life from shipwrecks along the Atlantic coast and on the Great Lakes. A network of life-saving stations housed surfmen who patrolled the beaches every night, responding to ships in distress.

Delaware had six stations – Lewes, Cape Henlopen, Rehoboth Beach, Indian River Inlet, Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island. The Indian River Life-Saving Station is the only station still standing in its original location; it is now managed by Delaware Seashore State Park.

State park staff and dedicated volunteers will re-enact the rescue technique known as the breeches buoy system or beach apparatus drill. This ingenious drill allowed the surfmen to save shipwreck victims without launching a surfboat into the stormy waters. The re-enactment begins with the firing of a Lyle gun, a small cannon which shoots a line out to the wreck pole, a mock ship’s mast reaching nearly 20 feet in the air. From there, lines carrying the breeches buoy are sent up to the wreck pole, and several staff are “saved” and brought safely to the ground.

“The breeches buoy re-enactment is our time to shine as an historic site and as a state park,” said Laura Scharle, site manager. “If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind event, something off the beaten path, this is it.”

The cost for this program, including a museum tour, is $6.50 for adults, $4 for ages 6-12, $5 for seniors age 62 and older, and free for children ages 5 and under. Preregistration is not necessary. The museum is located 1.5 miles north of the Indian River Inlet, and 3.5 miles south of Dewey Beach. For more information, go to or call 302-227-6991.

Rochester, New York is the Location for the 2019 Annual Conference

Photo courtesy of Fort Ontario State Historic Site

The 2019 Annual Conference and Meeting will be in Rochester, New York.  The dates are September 26-28, 2019.  We’ll travel east on the Seaway Trail to Oswego one day and west to Niagara one day. We’ll also spend one day in the Charlotte area (suburb of Rochester).

The conference hotel is the Holiday Inn Express, 850 Holt Road, Webster, NY. They are holding 20 rooms for us: 10 with double queen beds and 10 with a king bed. Dates for the reservations are Wednesday, September 25 – Saturday, September 28. The nightly rate is $119 plus tax. To make reservations, call 585-872-0900 and tell the front desk you are part of the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association. The hotel offers a free breakfast; and is located close to a pond with walking trail. This offer ends August 26, 2019. BOOK NOW!

In Oswego we’ll tour the H Lee White Maritime Museum and their 1943 tug boat. On to Fort Ontario which is on the bluff just above the site of the former 1876 Oswego Life-Saving Station. We’ll hear about the life-saving stations in that area, the USCG moving boats on the Erie Canal and the 1942 incident which took the lives of 6 Coastguardsmen.

Our tour west will begin with a 2 hour boat ride on the Erie Canal which will take us past five of the original 1800’s locks. Next will be a tour of Station Niagara, built in 1893, and still in use as a CG station. In the works is a brief stop at Niagara Falls to see the site of a dramatic breeches buoy rescue in 1918 performed by the crew of Station Niagara.

Saturday will be our business meeting followed by a presentation by Francine Glassic who has dedicated years to researching surfmen burial sites.  We’ll head north to the Coast Guard Auxiliary facility in Charlotte. Then on to Station Rochester.

The dinner and auction will be at the Rochester Yacht Club, next to the site of the original 1876 Charlotte LSS. BRING ITEMS FOR AUCTION!

Watch this site and Wreck and Rescue for more information.  Mark your calendar now.

If you have a story to submit for the next Life Lines please contact us through our website.

Also consider joining the Life Lines staff.  We are now three and more are welcome to join us.  If you wanted to have a role or contribute to the organization this is your opportunity to do so.