|The Historic New Canal Lighthouse
The first New Canal Lighthouse was built in 1839 at the entrance of the New Basin Canal at Lake
Pontchartrain. This structure was a cypress tower with a lantern on top, set on pilings, about 1,000
feet offshore, however, it wasn't long before the timbers began to rot. In 1855, a one-story wood
dwelling was built on screwpiles with a lantern on top of the roof. In 1880, the Southern Yacht Club
was moved from Biloxi, MS to New Orleans and the building blocked the lighthouse light. In 1890, a
new two-story building, 16 feet higher, on top of the original iron piles, had been constructed. By
the early 1900's, several projects had been undertaken on the lakefront, including the construction
of a peninsula, on which the lighthouse was moved. Lighthouse keepers operated the light until
the 1960's, when the U.S. Coast Guard began using the building as their home and took over the
operation of the lighthouse. The Coast Guard called the lighthouse home until 2002, when a new
facility was built not far away.
In the years before the Coast Guard took over, there were several women of note on the list of
lighthouse keepers: Elizabeth Beattie was appointed in 1847, after her husband, the station's first
keeper, died; likewise, Jane O'Driscol took over after her husband's death in 1850; Mary Campbell
was the keeper from 1870 - 1895; Caroline Riddle took over in 1895 - Caroline Riddle was
commended for heroism for keeping the light lit during a hurricane; Maggie Norvell relieved
Riddle in 1924 - she once saved 200 people by rowing them ashore during a fire on an excursion
As the pictures further down the page illustrate, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita severely damaged the
historic lighthouse in 2005. After the storms, much of the building, though damaged badly, was still
standing, until a cold front came through a few months later, at which time, the building collapsed.
Thanks to the efforts of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, a replacement lighthouse - using
salvaged material from the original when possible - has been constructed. The rebuilt lighthouse
is now a museum and education center, focusing on the ecology of the Pontchartrain Basin and the
history of the New Orleans maritime industry, as well as, the lighthouse. -- Nancy
|The New Canal Lighthouse and a portion of the
Lake Pontchartrain seawall; date unknown.
|New Canal Lighthouse is shown on the left and
the Southern Yacht Club is on the right; 1930's.
|The Lighthouse, about 1915.
|The lighthouse is shown in the far distance, Southern
Yacht Club to its right, along a section of the New Basin Canal.
|Photos above and below show the deteriorating condition
of the lighthouse between August - November, 2005.
|The second lighthouse (in use from 1855 to 1890), ca. 1870's