By Cyndi Sellers
The 96 cast iron steps to the top of the Sabine Pass Lighthouse have rusted out and fallen away in the decades since the copper roof was stolen. Two hurricanes finished the job that rain damage had started. But now that roof has been enclosed and brick repaired it’s time to think about new stairs.
The Cameron Preservation Alliance has started a Sponsor-a-Step fundraiser to rebuild the staircase. For $1000, any person family or company can donate a step and have a plaque placed on the wall next to it stating the donor’s name. This method has been used successfully by other lighthouses.
Alliance President Andrew Tingler said he encourages anyone who wants to place a permanent stamp on history to consider purchasing a step in the lighthouse. Recent excavations of the false floor at the lighthouse revealed the remains of the original steps and pole, which may be usable, as a base for the new staircase.
The fundraiser started July 2, and already 25 steps have been spoken for. Donors can choose which step to pay for, and numbers 1 and 96 have been taken, but there are plenty left.
Cheniere LNG was the first donor, claiming step number one. The Faul family of Holly Beach donated step number 61. Willie Uriah Trahan and family donated step number 21.
The 18th step was donated by the Kile family of Sabine Pass. Texas, in memory of their ancestor Earl Kile, who was photographed on the stairs.
The Anderson family of Lake Charles donated step number 4 in memory of their ancestors, keepers Stephen Hill and William Hill of the Sabine Pass, Calcasieu Pass and Matagorda lighthouses.
Step number 10 is being donated by members of the U.S. Coast Guard who were stationed at Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur at some point. The group is up to 28 people so far, and counting. Dana White donated step number 25 “in honor of all the merchant mariners that have passed the light.”
Electronic donations may be made through PayPal, www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1983950, or checks can be mailed to the Cameron Preservation Alliance c/o Andrew Tingler, 115 Boudreaux Lane, Lake Charles LA 70607. Installment payments may be arranged.
For more information about the program or the lighthouse, see the Sabine Pass Lighthouse – Cameron Preservation Alliance Facebook page or call Andrew Tingler at 337-287-5532.