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United States Life-Saving Service. Life-Saving before the USLSS. Danger Lighthouse keepers and volunteers Insufficient. Massachusetts Humane Society. Founded in 1785 Structures for shipwrecked mariners 1787- “Houses of Refuge” Small sheds First on Lovell’s Island. Dr. John Warren

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life saving before the uslss
Life-Saving before the USLSS
  • Danger
  • Lighthouse keepers and volunteers
  • Insufficient
massachusetts humane society
Massachusetts Humane Society
  • Founded in 1785
  • Structures for shipwrecked mariners
  • 1787- “Houses of Refuge”
  • Small sheds
  • First on Lovell’s Island

Dr. John Warren

One of the Founders and Initial Trustees of the Massachusetts Humane Society

  • Stations only near busy ports
  • large gaps of coastline
  • structures not manned nor maintained
  • Vulnerable to theft and vandalism
  • No Boats

House of Refuge

making improvements
Making Improvements
  • Society began looking into using small boats
  • British developed “lifeboats”
  • William Raymond
  • 30-feet long, 11 crewmen
  • First lifeboat station at Cohasset, MA



additional measures
Additional Measures
  • 1831 – Gallatin
  • First government directive
  • 1837 – Congressional authorization to search
  • Rescue on the high seas
  • Need for Responsibility and Means

USRC Gallatin

william a newell
William A. Newell
  • Congressman from New Jersey
  • Physician
  • 14 August 1848-- Congress appropriated $10,000
  • “surfboats, rockets, carronades…”
  • Limited to New Jersey

New Jersey coast

douglass ottinger
Douglass Ottinger
  • Captain in the Revenue Marine
  • Interested in lifesaving
  • Established 8 stations with equipment
  • 12 January 1850- Ayrshire rescue
problems continue
Problems Continue
  • Elizabeth wreck
  • Stations added
  • Systemic problems
    • small
    • voluntary crews
    • neglect and theft
    • no standardization
  • 1848 legislation was inadequate.
steps toward a national life saving service
Steps toward a National Life-Saving Service
  • Winter of 1870-71-- Public Outcry
  • 20 April 1871
  • Paid surfmen and new stations
  • Captain John Faunce
  • Report on the state of life-saving

Captain John Faunce

sumner increase kimball
Sumner Increase Kimball
  • Born on 2 September 1834
  • Attended Bowdoin College
  • A lawyer
  • Appointed to Treasury Department
  • 1871-- appointed to head Revenue Marine Bureau
founding of the u s life saving service
Founding of the U.S. Life-Saving Service
  • 4 June 1878-- Representative Samuel S. Cox
  • 18 June 1878--Congress passed the legislation creating the USLSS
  • President Hayes nominated Kimball
  • Congress approved

President Rutherford B. Hayes

garnering public support
Garnering Public Support
  • William D. O’Conner
    • Journalist
    • Authored rescue accounts in the annual reports
    • Vivid and Eloquent
    • Accounts disseminated to the general public
  • His reports ensured support for the USLSS

Title Page from an Annual Report

life saving equipment
Life-Saving Equipment
  • Beach Cart
  • Boats
    • Lifeboat
    • Surfboat
  • Cork Lifebelt
  • Heaving Stick and Line
  • Beach Apparatus
  • Lyle Gun & Faking Box
  • Breeches Buoy
  • Lifecar
  • Coston Flare
  • Lifeboat
  • Surfboat
launching lifeboats
Launching Lifeboats
  • Ramp-Launched
launching surfboats
Launching Surfboats
  • From the Beach
coston flare
Coston Flare
  • Benjamin Franklin Coston
  • Martha Coston
  • Adopted by the US Navy
  • Adopted by USLSS--every station equipped
  • Helped save thousands
heaving stick and line
Heaving Stick and Line
  • Short-stick with oval weight
  • Surfman threw it
  • Inadequate for shore-based rescues
  • An alternative was needed
beach apparatus
Beach Apparatus
  • Used to get rescue lines to the wrecks
  • Beach Cart

Beach Apparatus all laid out

lyle gun
Lyle Gun
  • David A. Lyle, US Army.
  • Improved design
faking box
Faking Box
  • Shotline

Completed Faking Box

Surfmen Stringing the Shotline in the Faking Box

breeches buoy
Breeches Buoy

Breeches Bouy in Action

Crewmen Training with the Breeches Buoy

  • Joseph Francis
  • Carried 2 to 4 people
  • Used until 1899
organization of the service
Organization of the Service
  • Agency within the Treasury Department
  • Headed by Sumner I. Kimball
  • Inspected by the Revenue Cutter Service
  • Districts with Superintendents
  • Each station named and numbered
life saving stations
Life-Saving Stations

Equipment Storage Area of an Unidentified Station

Surfmen entertaining themselves at their station

life saving stations in new england
Life-Saving Stations in New England

Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts

Fletcher’s Neck, Maine

life saving stations in new england31
Life-Saving Stations in New England

Different Views of the Life-Saving Station at Narragansett, Rhode Island

life saving stations in the mid atlantic
Life-Saving Stations in the Mid-Atlantic

Quogue, New York

Point of Woods, New York

life saving stations in the mid atlantic33
Life-Saving Stations in the Mid-Atlantic

Indian River, Delaware

Deal, New Jersey

life saving stations in the carolinas
Life-Saving Stations in the Carolinas

Bogue Inlet, North Carolina

Currituck, North Carolina

house of refuge in florida
House of Refuge in Florida

House of Refuge at Indian River Inlet, Florida

life saving stations on the gulf coast of texas
Life-Saving Stations on theGulf Coast of Texas

Sabine Pass, Texas

San Luis, Texas

life saving stations on the great lakes
Life-Saving Stations on the Great Lakes

Ashtabula, Ohio

Evanston, Illinois

life saving stations on the great lakes38
Life-Saving Stations on the Great Lakes

Two Rivers, Wisconsin

Racine, Wisconsin

Jackson Park, Illinois

floating life saving station
Floating Life-Saving Station

Louisville, Kentucky

life saving stations on the pacific coast
Life-Saving Stations on the Pacific Coast

Gray’s Harbor, Washington

Baaddah Point, Washington

Golden Gate Park, California

foul weather gear
Foul-Weather Gear

Gear for conducting rescues

On Beach Patrol

lifesaving medals
Lifesaving Medals
  • Gold Lifesaving Medal
  • Silver Lifesaving Medal
some heroes of the u s life saving service
Some Heroes of the U.S. Life-Saving Service
  • Joshua James
  • Rasmus S. Midgett
  • Frederick T. Hatch
  • Crew of the Pea Island (NC) Station
  • Crew of the Evanston (IL) Station
joshua james
Massachusetts Humane Society

Keeper of Point Allerton Station

Gold Lifesaving Medal

Joshua James
rasmus s midgett
Rasmus S. Midgett
  • Gull Island Life-Saving Station
  • 18 August 1899-- single-handedly rescued ten people
  • Awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal
frederick t hatch
Frederick T. Hatch
  • Two-time recipient of the Gold Lifesaving Medal
  • 31 October-1 November 1883-Sophia Minch
  • 26 October 1891-Wahnapitae
pea island crew
Pea Island crew
  • Pea Island LS was on the Outer Banks
  • All African-American crew.
  • 11 October 1896- E.S. Newman
  • 5 March 1996- Gold Lifesaving Medal awarded to the Pea Island crew
evanston crew
Evanston Crew
  • Outside of Chicago
  • Northwestern University
  • 28 November 1889- Calumet foundered in a blizzard
  • 17 October 1890- Gold Lifesaving Medal awarded
uslss the wright brothers at kitty hawk
USLSS & the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk
  • Kill Devil Hills LSS assisted Orville and Wilbur Wright
  • Surfman J.T. Daniels
  • Crew assisted with subsequent flights

Kill Devil Hills Station crewmen

First Flight of the Wright Brothers’ Flyer

end of the uslss
End of the USLSS
  • 20 January 1915 -- "Act to Create the Coast Guard"
  • Combined the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service
  • 28 January 1915 -- President Wilson signed into law
  • US Coast Guard created