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April 21, 2012 11:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm a professional sound-gatherer and radio producer. I'd like to structure my next quick getaway around a functioning, active diaphone foghorn. But where the heck are they?

A Wikipedia footnote states that diaphone foghorns still operate at Low Head, Souter, Whitefish, Portland Bill, and Whitby, but:

- Low Head and Souter (Lizard Point) are on special occasions only
- Whitefish (Lake Superior) is apparently run only on a tourist basis
- Portland Bill (England) appears to be run only for 30 minutes every Sunday, regardless of weather
- Whitby (Ling Hill) was discontinued in 1987 and no longer operates at all

I've spent far too many hours on Google and YouTube trying to find evidence of an actual, honest-to-goodness, full-time, functioning diaphone foghorn, not just one they flip on when there are a few dozen tourists milling around on a sunny afternoon. And perhaps my brain has glazed over now, but ... are there any left? Anywhere?

I'm not limited by time of year or geography, so feel free to send me to the most remote, rocky, and inhospitable place if it'll get me a true foghorn. Please also recommend best times of year for the worst weather so I can get lots of footage. Thanks!
posted by mykescipark to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This source says that the Mississagi Strait Lighthouse is operational and has a diaphone. There's contact info here to see if they're still operating the Diaphone.

The same source indicates that this lighthouse in England has both a diaphone installation and an operating signal, but it is not clear whether the diaphone horn itself is in operation.

Similarly, it appears that the Tonin Lighthouse in Sakhalinsk has a diaphone and is operational, but it is also unclear whether the Diaphone itself is still used as a signal.
posted by eschatfische at 1:14 PM on April 21, 2012

According to this page, the Golden Gate Bridge has a diaphone foghorn; this guy even tells you where he collected his sound from. I can confirm that they do indeed run (I could hear them at night from both the Inner & Outer Sunset).
posted by smirkette at 1:15 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Google Books has many hits for "diaphone foghorn" including some from modern travelogues like this one where the authors claim to have encountered one in their journey.
posted by XMLicious at 1:17 PM on April 21, 2012

Seems like you want to talk to Jeff Laser who lives in Bellville Ohio and was part of the group the restored the DeTour Reef Light horn [which is now in a historical society but I guess they drag it out for ceremonial purposes]. He's a foghorn recorder type guy and could probably direct you appropriately. I don't see a website for him per se, but it looks like he would not be that tough to track down.
posted by jessamyn at 1:53 PM on April 21, 2012

Perhaps this group will be helpful?
posted by gjc at 5:33 PM on April 21, 2012

Response by poster: Great suggestions and information so far, folks.

eschatfische: fine ideas as usual, but sadly dry. Missisagi's whole foghorn tower was converted into a restaurant. The old horn still sits atop it, but is silent. The Pendeen horn has been out of commission for a while. And Tonin doesn't look like it's in such great shape…!

The Cape Flattery lighthouse described in your travelogue link, XML, has been decommissioned. Filtering by books published in the 21st century, I find no diaphone lighthouses that come up as active. (I wouldn't trust any info older than 5 years old on this.)

smirkette, I've heard that about the Golden Gate. Would love some confirm/deny from residents.

Thanks re: Jeff Laser, jessamine. He doesn't appear to have a site of his own, but I can probably chase him down.

gjc, I'll also ask the Lighthouse Society!
posted by mykescipark at 1:40 AM on April 22, 2012

Response by poster: And omg, proof that I am far too tired to be on the Internet when I misspell jessamyn's name.
posted by mykescipark at 1:41 AM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I live far enough away from Golden Gate that I only hear it rarely, but I have heard it in the last two years.
posted by Gucky at 7:05 AM on April 23, 2012

For what it's worth, I lived in SF proper for 10 years before I moved to Cambridge for a year of grad school. I lived in the Outer Sunset (i.e. close to the ocean) for 9 of those 10 years. I hesitate to make a conclusive claim on the "diaphone" aspect of the ask requirement because I lack expert knowledge in this domain. I just lived there and don't purport to understand how they built the foghorns I miss every goddamn night. I could call Golden Gate Transportation District to confirm yay or nae for sure it's what you're looking for.
posted by smirkette at 8:40 PM on April 25, 2012

(should add I moved away only late last August)
posted by smirkette at 8:41 PM on April 25, 2012

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