- Education and Science
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, Block Island, RI
A lighthouse is a tower, building or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses, and to serve as a navigational aid for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways.
Our First Lighthouse
All the way back to 1673 our country has been helping sailors navigate the North American waters according to the United States Lighthouse Society. A beacon was hoisted in Nantasket, MA, fueled by "flier-bales of pitch and ocum" in an iron basket at it's base.
The First Lighthouse - Boston Light
The first lighthouse was built on Boston's Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor and was first lit on September 14, 1716. Over the next centuries, lighthouses sprung up on the coastlines around the country. Today over 400 lighthouses can be found in the 31 of 50 states.
Boston Light on Little Brewster Island 1728
Boston Light History
For maintaining the light a tonnage tax of 1 penny per ton on all vessels, except coasters, moving in or out of Boston Harbor.
George Worthylake was the very first "Lighthouse Keeper" with a salary of $50 a year. Unfortunately, in 1718 he and his wife and daughter along with two other men drowned when the lighthouse boat capsized as they were returning to the lighthouse from Boston.
In 1776 during the American Revolution, the tower was completely destroyed by British forces. In 1783 Massachusetts Legislature supplied $1,450 to erect a new lighthouse and the Lighthouse was reconstructed. The dimensions were 75 ft. (23 m) in height with walls 7 ft. 6 in.(2.29 m) thick at the base tapering to 2 ft. 6 in. (0.76 m) at the top. The octagon lantern 15 ft. (4.6 m) and 8 ft. (2.4 m) in diameter the same as the original tower. In 1856 the tower was raised to its present height of 98 ft. (30 m) and a new lantern room was installed along with a 12-sided second order Fresnel Lens.
Boston Light on Little Brewster Island 1839
Boston Light Today
In 1998 the Boston Light was automated and is also staffed by a resident Coast Guard Keeper, Sally Snowman. She is assisted by volunteer watchstanders from the Coast Guard Auxiliary. These personal are important for interpretive tour guides for visitors.
The Lighthouse was renovated in 2014 and was reopened to visitors in 2015.
Portland Head Light
The Portland Head Lighthouse is informally known as the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse located in Cape Elizabeth, ME. This Lighthouse was built in 1791.
Portland Head Lighthouse
The state of Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state with over 120 listed, however, 150 were built.
Tawas Point Lighthouse
New Jersey's Lighthouses
The Sandyhook Lighthouse is the oldest working lighthouse located in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. It was built in 1764.
This lighthouse was built to aid the mariners entering the south end of the New York Harbor.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse
The Sakonnet Lighthouse located in Little Compton, RI was built in 1884. In 1954 it was going to be destroyed after Hurricane Carol, however, it was purchased by Carl and Carolyn Haffenreffer in 1961.
Conimicut Light was built in 1883. It is currently owned by the city of Warwick, RI and it is being considered to be converted into a bed and breakfast.
Southwest Reef Lighthouse
The Southwest Reef Lighthouse was located off the end of Point Au Fer Shoal. The shipping traffic increased in early 1800's which went from New Iberia to Atchafayla Bay.
The Lighthouse was renovated several times before retiring it to the Berwick, LA area. The town of Berwick and Save Our Coast joined together and purchased the Southwest Reef in 1987. It was then moved to its current location in 1990.
Currently, it stands on the western bank of the Atchafayla River in Berwick, LA in Berwick S. Berry Lighthouse Park.
Southwest Reef Lighthouse
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built in 1802 and first lit in 1803. It is the tallest lighthouse in America. It's height is 210 ft. (64 m).
The National Park Service owns the lighthouse and The Coast Guard owns and operates the Navigational equipment. The lighthouse was moved from its original location at the edge of the ocean to safer ground 2,900 (880 m) inland, and 1,500 (460 m) from the shoreline.
Cape Hatteras Light
US Lighthouse Society - A Brief History
United States Lighthouse Society
The United States Lighthouse Society is a non-profit organization. It is dedicated to aiding restoration of American Lighthouses and educating the public about their history.
It is one of the largest and oldest lighthouse organizations in the world. It consists of four chapters and more than a dozen affiliates.
The Society was founded in San Fransico, CA and was relocated to Hansville, Washington in 2008.
In 2009, the U.S. Lighthouse Society was recognized as a "Preserve America Steward", one of the first 11 cultural and historic organizations designated to receive the Bureau of Land Management-sponsored award in recognition of "a successful use of volunteer time and commitment."
The Society raises money and organizes volunteers to preserve and restore four historic lighthouses: the Point No Point in Washington State, Hooper Island Lighthouse in Maryland, Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse in Maryland, and Lightship LV605 currently moored in Oakland, CA.
The U.S. Lighthouse Society also prints a quarterly magazine, The Keeper's Log, about the history of Lighthouses in the United States. A second quarterly publication, Lighthouse Bulletin, chronicle society activities and it is distributed in PDF format via email.
The United States Lighthouse Society
© 2017 Elizabeth J Neal