US Lighthouse tender MARIGOLD Seeing The Light

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The vessel

Click to view enlarged image In the late 1880's, the tender WARRINGTON was serving both the Engineer and the Inspector of the Eleventh District, however with a dramatic increase in the number of aids to navigation in the district, by 1889 a single vessel was insufficient to keep up with the workload. To this end, Congress authorized the construction of a new Inspector's tender in 1889. Bids were advertised for construction, with the contract awarded to the Detroit Dry dock Company in Wyandotte, Michigan.

Work began on the 159-foot 6 inch long iron-hulled vessel, with launching on November 15, 1890. The vessel was stood 27 feet in the beam and drew 11 feet 7 inches. Displacing 587 tons, her single screw was powered by a 520 horsepower triple expansion steam engine fired by 2 Scotch-type coal-fired boilers.

Click to view enlarged imageShe was delivered to the Detroit depot in early 1891, and Eleventh District Inspector, Commander Horace Elmer immediately took her on two trips, the first setting buoys, and the second supplying and inspecting lighthouse in the district. On his return, he commented that he "found her suitable for her work, and satisfactory as to speed and accommodations." By the close of the 1891 season of navigation, she had steamed 11,058 miles and consumed 602 tons of coal while delivering 18 cords of wood, 402 tons of coal, 18 cords of wood, 10,010 gallons of mineral oil, and removed 123 buoys.

I Click to view enlarged imagen April 1894, she was placed in dry dock for an examination of her stern bearings, her bottom was cleaned and painted and some repairs were made to her rudder. In March 1897, as a result of a run-in with a rock, she returned to dry dock for the installation of a new propeller and electric lights powered by a steam-powered electric generator.

With the use of Pintsch gas illuminated buoys, 1900 saw the installation of a 15,000 cubic foot capacity gas carrying plant on her main deck, which was not only deemed as being a satisfactory installation, but an improvement to her weight distribution and seagoing qualities. In 1905 she steamed her season high 15,929 miles, and consumed 1,137 tons of coal while delivering supplies to 358 lights, 34 steam powered fog-signals, and charging 37 gas buoys.

Click to view enlarged imageWhen the Coast Guard assumed responsibility for the nation's aids to navigation in 1939, Marigold changed her identity to WAGL-235, and became the oldest active tender in the nation. After fifty years of faithful service, she was decommissioned in 1945 and sold into private ownership the following year.

With her superstructure removed, and her hull extensively modified, she was rebuilt as a 106 foot long dredge. Renamed MISS MUDHEN II, she operated out of Bay City Michigan and worked the Saginaw River until the 1980's. Outliving her usefulness, everything of use was removed from her hull and she was scuttled in Lake Huron in the 1960's.

Crew members of this vessel

Click here to see a complete listing of all crew members assigned to the MARIGOLD  compiled by Phyllis L. Tag of Great Lakes Lighthouse Research.


Annual reports of the Lighthouse Board, 1891-1903
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. 1, Part A
Crew member listings for this vessel appear courtesy of Great Lakes Lighthouse Research

Terry Pepper. This page updated 12/02/2007