Thursday, August 4, 2011

USLSS/USCG celebrating 221 years - Guarding our waters, we pay tribute to USCG Station Fairport

Today is a special day for the United States Coast Guard. The agency is celebrating its 221st anniversary and its 40,000 service members, including the 30 members of USCG Station Fairport stand ready to serve. While working or volunteering at Fairport Lakefront Park or the Grand River lighthouse, I am in direct view of Station Fairport and witness daily the service and commitment made to every citizen.  Under the stewardship of the Department of Homeland Security, Station Fairport conducts law enforcement boardings (300 in 2010), answers calls for assistance (58 in 2010), and educates the public on needed boating skills (Spirit of America programs).  Listed below is a tribute and partial timeline of the history of the USLSS and USCG Station Fairport.

USLSS /USCG - Station Fairport
  •  1786     First organized attempt to assist those in peril of shipwreck is made by volunteers living on the Massachusetts coastline.
  • 1848     Congress appropriated monies to volunteer groups to assist in rescue attempts at sea. 
  • 1871     Congress designates $200,000 for lifesaving and rescue purposes.  Sumner I. Kimball becomes the first head of this service.  The service unites two related groups - the National Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life Saving Service.
  • 1875     Date of conveyance  for Station Fairport
  • 1876     On May 3rd at a cost of $1995, the first station opens on the site of the 1825 lighthouse   property.  George Francis Babcock is the first chief.  'Frank' Babcock serves for 22 years and assists in more than 300 rescues.
  • 1876-1877   Four new districts are approved for the Lake.  Fairport joins the 9th District.
  • 1878     Launching and ramping issues result in a move of USLSS Station Fairport to the west side of the channel.  It remains there today.  Station Fairport is currently scheduled for a major makeover in the near future.
  • 1901     Ramp improvements are made.
  • 1915     The USCG is formed as the result of a merger between the USLSS and National Revenue Cutter Services. 
  • 1921     A new station replaces the original one.
  • 1930     The USCG is enlarged to include the Lighthouse Service.
  • 1934     On Second Street in Fairport, a north side of the street brick dwelling is built.  The duplex is used as a home for the USCG chief and lighthouse keeper thru 1939.
  • 1938     Additions, channel widening, and a relocation of the station site occur.
  • 1940 era   Station Fairport is used as a training center during WWII.
George Francis Babcock (1876-1898) and Niels M. Rasmussen (1899-1915) were two local Fairport residents to serve as chief in the service.  A roster of crews appears on page 136 of the FHHS book Fairport Harbor, Ohio (1976) and may also be found in the USCG archives. The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum is open to the public and devotes an entire room to the USLSS and USCG history.  Artifacts, photos, relics, an original foghorn and lifesaving car are just a small sampling of their collection.  Today's Coast Guard may be smaller than the NY Police Department, but to the 30 who serve at Station Fairport and to all other active guardsman the message is clear -  Happy Anniversary and Thank You for your service.

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