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Iconic Delaware lighthouse becomes a postage stamp

The Harbor of Refuge lighthouse is among a handful added to the ranks of postage stamps.


The lighthouse has stood in the Delaware Bay since the 1920’s, guiding ships through the Atlantic waters to this day.


The new stamp, illustrated by famous stamp artist Howard Koslow, is meant to represent the lighthouse's turbulent history, and it’s continued use as a valuable navigation aid.


The Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation now owns and maintains the lighthouse.


Red Moulinier has been with the foundation for 19 years, previously serving as president — and says he’s learned so much about the role lighthouses still play, despite new navigation technologies.


“This lighthouse is used by commercial traffic that go up and down the Delaware Bay, huge freighters,” Moulinier said. “It’s used by the local mariners, the local mariners depend on that lighthouse, especially at night. They depend on the fog signal and the light — my brother’s a charter boat captain and he uses it all the time.”


Now the lighthouse will be memorialized as a stamp, along four other lighthouses in the Mid-Atlantic collection.

Credit Roman Battaglia / Delaware Public Media
Delaware Public Media
The Mid-Atlantic lighthouse stamp collection were the last stamps illustrated by Howard Koslow before his death in 2016. (The Harbor of Refuge lighthouse is the bottom center)

Lewes Mayor Ted Becker says the lighthouse is a significant part of city history.  A light has stood on that spot since the 1800’s, enduring violent storms and many reconstructions to continue providing a valuable service.


The current iteration of the lighthouse was built in 1926 after the previous structure was destroyed by storms. It was constructed with a strong cast-iron caisson built into the breakwater, and has managed to survive several hurricanes.


Moulinier says he’s excited to see the lighthouse get more attention.


“We want people to understand the importance of these lights, what these lights did years ago, and the importance of maintaining them into the future,” he said.


He says education is a core part of his foundation’s mission. That’s why they hold monthly tours of the lighthouse during the summer to show people why it’s such an important landmark.


Restoration and maintenance is an ongoing project for the foundation. Mouliner says they’ve had to rebuild the dock 13 times in just 7 years, before building a more durable, concrete dock in 2016.


The lighthouse has been automated since 1973, but still requires routine, twice-annual maintenance by the U.S. Coast Guard. Both the light and the fog horn are now powered by solar panels on the side.


Moulinier says he’s happy to see the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse get this recognition and hopes people continue dedicating time to protect this piece of Delaware history.


He says the foundation is working hard to recruit younger members into the foundation, many of the volunteers are in their 70’s. He says finding the next generation of lighthouse caretakers is an important goal for him, and for the lighthouse foundation.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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