1890: Congress Provides Funding for the Construction of a Lighthouse Tender

August 30, 1890

The U.S. Congress appropriated $75,000 for the construction of a vessel for the U.S. Lighthouse Board. This vessel was Amaranth, and she would serve for more than a half-century throughout much of the Great Lakes region as a lighthouse tender. Lighthouse tenders provide various kinds of support to the individuals serving at lighthouses or on lightvessels. Key examples of support include delivery of mail, fuel, and supplies.

With the money appropriated by Congress, Amaranth was built at the Cleveland Shipbuilding Company. Naval architect and Cleveland resident J.R. Oldham was superintendent of this project. Work on USLHT Amaranth was completed at a cost of $74,993.70. She was launched at the Cleveland Shipbuilding Company’s shipyard on December 18, 1891, and commissioned into the Lighthouse Board on April 14 of the following year. Amaranth was placed under the command of Captain Lewis M. Stoddard, who served in that role until 1905.

After being commissioned, Amaranth was immediately placed into service on behalf of the Lighthouse Board. (That agency would be replaced by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1910.) Over the next several decades, Amaranth would help maintain navigational aids on or in the vicinity of Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior. During World War I, this vessel was temporarily placed under the control of the U.S. Navy. Amaranth’s duties in the Great Lakes region throughout that time, however, stayed the same.

In 1939, the Lighthouse Service was merged into the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Amaranth was consequently redesignated as USCGC Amaranth (WAGL-201). As part of USCG’s fleet, she remained in operation as a Great Lakes lighthouse tender until being decommissioned on September 29, 1945. The following year, Amaranth was sold to a private company and renamed Southwind. She was used for commercial purposes until at least 1954.

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

For more information on USLHT/USCGC Amaranth, please check out http://www.terrypepper.com/lights/closeups/tenders/amaranth/index.htm

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