Joseph Henry, 1880

Feb. 3, 2021

Joseph Henry, 1880

Joseph Henry (1797-1878) was a famous scientist, the first director of the Smithsonian Institution, and a member of the Lighthouse Board.  He joined that august body in 1852.  He became the chairman in 1871 and held that position, the only civilian to do so, until 1878.  He was also known for laying the groundwork for the formation of the U.S. Weather Bureau.

 Tender History:

The Joseph Henry was built by Howard & Company of Jeffersonville, Indiana as a replacement for the tender Alice.  She was a 453-ton, 180-foot side paddle wheeled steamer.  Her hull was made of white oak.  The steam launch Ivy was assigned to her for use in shallow water.  The Joseph Henry had incandescent lighting installed throughout the ship in August, 1888, powered by a steam generator.

She was first assigned to duty in the 15th Lighthouse District and was based out of Memphis.  In January, 1881, she was assigned to the newly created 16th Lighthouse District.  She was known during her Lighthouse Service career as the "Joe Henry."

She was condemned in 1900 but still served for four more years when she was sold.  Her replacement was the tender Oleander.  The Joseph Henry eventually saw service as the passenger vessel Pattona, operating until 1916.


Douglas Peterson.  United States Lighthouse Service Tenders, 1840-1939. Annapolis: Eastwind Publishing, 2000.