The Outer Island Saga

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over



When work crews returned to the island at the beginning of the 1874 season, they made a shocking discovery:

When the party to carry on the work arrived at the station last May the Superintendent of Construction discovered the station had again been placed wrong and not at the point which had been staked out. This necessitated another change.

It seems that the true aim of Knight and Chapman's winter-time lobbying campaign may well have been to ratify an act that was already fait accompli.

Weitzel was not to be defeated. The hard-bitten combat veteran fired the original foreman, claiming that the latest setback resulted "entirely from weakness in [his] character." Left unsaid was whether this "weakness" was merely susceptibility to Knight and Chapman's bullying, or if Weitzel believed that money had passed under the table.

Next, despite his earlier worries about cost overruns, Weitzel ordered that all work completed so far should be torn down, and construction recommenced at the proper site. On July 1, he wrote Henry with good news:

Under a new foreman, Mr. Louis Lederle, excellent progress is being made and if the lens is set up in time will probably be ready for lighting the 1st of October.

By month's end, he was able to report,

About four acres of ground have been cleared off for the new site; 1300 linear feet of ground graded and prepared for a track; and about 700 feet of track laid for a hand car on which to move the material. It is hoped that this change will not materially delay work and that the appropriation already made will be sufficient to complete it.

Although one wonders how Weitzel managed to be so confident that this extra round of demolition and construction would not produce a budgetary disaster, his projected completion date came very close. On October 20, 1874, novice keeper O.K. Hall lit the lamp for the station's first official night of service.

Even after that, however, Knight and Chapman were not ready to give up their claim. On a summer day in 1875, the Outer Island log recorded,

Tug "Wadsworth" arrived from Bayfield with Mr. Bailey, Mr. Capt. Smith with two daughters, also an old gentleman and daughter, also two surveyors to run out the lines to see if the Light-House was not built on Col. Knight's and Chapman's land. They failed to make their point.

With that entry, we hear no more of Col. Knight and Captain Chapman's claims. Godfrey Weitzel's headaches on Outer Island may have ended, but O.K. Hall's were far from over.



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