Round Island Lighthouse coming back to life

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Modern tools are being used to recreate history. Inside Precision Products, a portion of the lantern galley is being put together, piece by piece. The other pieces sit outside, waiting their turn for a resurrection.

Restoring a lighthouse built in 1859 is not an easy job. Ken Steiner is the owner of Precision Products.

"As you can see on the sketch here, we have to be back to some machine specs, the bolt specs; we have to come up with some square bolts but pretty much all of it is attainable," Steiner said. "If we can't find it, we do build it here on site."

Workers like Chris Coleman who are involved with the project know they are taking part in something very special.

"I feel privileged to be able to work on this, a project of such historical significance, and it's very interesting and unique to get to work on something of this caliber," Coleman said.

When I asked Ken Steiner why he wanted to be involved in this project, he said the answer was an easy one. The reason, he has a personal stake.

"My great grandfather was one of the lighthouse keepers, and it's exciting to be part of a local project this large," Steiner said.

Off Highway 90 in downtown Pascagoula, the partially restored lighthouse sits, a shell of its former glory. Nearby, lighthouse bricks sit under the highway overpass. City officials are hoping a restored Round Island Lighthouse will shine a bright new light on the city.

Harry Schmidt is the community development director in Pascagoula.

"Lighthouses are an economic development tool," Schmidt said. "People travel from all over the country and all over the world to see lighthouses and tour different lighthouses, so it's going to be a great attraction for the city and bring more people in here to visit."

The estimated cost of the project is about one million dollars. Most of the money has been raised through donations and grants.

If all goes well with the restoration process, the lighthouse should be open for tours by next summer.

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