Harvey and Margaret (Cook) Dolbow
by Eleanor Peak Zane
One sunny afternoon in February of 1989, I spent a memorable afternoon with Harvey and Margaret (Cook) Dolbow, in their home on Penn Street, in
Penns Grove. The purpose of my visit was to interview Harvey about fishing in the Delaware. That interview was very informative, and hopefully, I will
relate the information from Harvey at a later date. Today I want to share with you some surprise information that I received from Margaret.
Turns out that Margaret was the daughter of a lighthouse keeper. Mr. Cook had been stationed at Ship John Light, and his wife and children did not like
the cold atmosphere of the winters at the seashore. While at that post, Mr. Cook had the title of Second Assistant Lighthouse Keeper. The family was glad
when Mr. Cook was assigned to the Deepwater Range Light located in Carneys Point, N.J. where he was in charge of the home and the light there. This
was an inland light, higher than the front light which was located at Deepwater Point. Those two lights made up the Deepwater Range, a true guide for
ship captains coming up the twisting Delaware River. The property where the lighthouse stood was owned by the United States Government, but
surrounded by property owned by the DuPont Company, where they made gunpowder.
Margaret told me that a short time after they moved into the lighthouse, her father told the family that since so many things had been left in the house by
the former lighthouse keeper, that he would have to get rid of them. He took all those things outside and began to burn them. In just a short time, many of
the DuPont Plant Guards came rushing to the yard yelling and telling him to put out the fire. They asked if he didn’t know that there was gunpowder all
around him, in the many storage places close by. He did know that there was a gunpowder plant on the property, but did not realize it was so close. She
said that never happened again.
Margaret was helper to her Dad, and many times climbed the tower to do the duties needed to keep the light in working order. Many times, as a helper to
her Dad, Margaret climbed the tower to do the duties needed to keep the light in working order. The lens of the large light had to be covered in the
daytime to keep the sun off, so in the evening, someone had to climb the 103 steps, go up a ladder to the tower, and take the cover off. In the morning the
trip was made to put the cover back on. Twice a day to the tower made lots of climbing steps for Margaret. She told me that she sometimes played a
game, just to see if she could do the job quickly. She would put a record on a record player, set the needle on the record, then run to go up the steps and
do what was required. Then she raced down the steps again, to try to be down before the record was finished. She said that sometimes she could do
that, and it made her feel good.
The light in Carneys Point was made by the same company that built the Finn’s Point Light tower in Pennsville, and the one at Tinicum Island, in
Billingsport. Built in 1876, it was in operation until 1952, and demolished in 1956.
Images are from the June 1956 issue of The Carneys Pointer