There are over a thousand lights as well as light towers, ranger lights and pier lights in the United States. Majority of them were built and maintained by the Coast Guard since 1939 and its predecessors the United States Lighthouse Services. With the rising public interest in lighthouses, the Coast Guard has been handing over ownership and responsibility over running them to other parties such as the National Park Service under the National Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. Lets have a look at 10 of the most popular lighthouses in the United States.
- The Portland Head Light originally constructed over 200 years ago, is one of the oldest landmark of its kind in the US. It is located in Cape Elizabeth, Maine sitting on a land at the entrance of the primary shipping channel into Portland Harbor, which is within Casco Bay in the Gulf of Maine. The lighthouse’s first beacon was created by a lamp that burned whale oil. Over the years the structure has been altered but much of the original lighthouse remains. The light was raised 20 feet during the Civil War and parts of the exterior were repaired after storm damage in the 1970s. The light station is automated, and the towr, beacon and foghorn are maintained by the United States Coast Guard, while the former lighthouse keepers’ house is a maritime museum within the Fort Williams Park.
- Heceta Head Lighthouse in Yachats, Oregon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for engineering and architectural excellence. The lighthouse sits on a cliff 1,000 feet above sea level. Visitors cannot enter the lighthouse itself but they are free to explore the grounds, appreciate the breath-taking views and hike along the 7-plis miles of trails that cross the area. The lighthouse is backed by a flourishing forest and was named for Spaniard Bruno de Heceta who was sent by the viceroy of New Spain to explore the area in the late 18th century. For those planning to stay overnight, there is a quaint bed and breakfast on site can accommodate 14 guests.
- Pigeon Point Lighthouse Station, California is one of the most well-known beacons in the West Coast, situated 50 miles from San Francisco near California’s gorgeous Half Moon Bay. Originally named Punta de las Balenas meaning whale point, it was renamed in 1853 after the ship “Carrier Pigeon” crashed just off of Half Moon Bay. The structure of the building itself is unsafe so visitors aren’t allowed to climb inside but the Lighthouse keepers’ quarters have been fully restored and utilized as a hostel so guests can stay near the lighthouse. Whales, seals and other marine creatures can be seen from the lighthouse’s grounds.
- Cape Lookout Lighthouse is a 163-foot high lighthouse located on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was first list in 1859, it flashes every 15 seconds and is visible at least 12 miles out to sea and up to 19 miles. The lighthouse is situated on a coast where two opposing current collide and make for many hurricanes so it is surprising to The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the only such structure in the United States to bear the checkered daymark, intended not only for differentiation between similar light towers, but also to show direction. The center of the black diamonds points in a north-south direction, while the center of the white diamonds points east-west. the lighthouse withstood the forces of nature.
- The Boston Light sits on a small island in the outer section of the famous Boston Harbour. It was first illuminated in 1716 and was the first operational lighthouse in America. The Boston Light Tower is 89 feet tall and constructed from stone with brick lining. It remainds an active US Coast Guard aid to navigation and still has an official keeper though in recent years it has become overshadowed by the addition of more prominent Graves Light nearby.
Image Source: http://a013.uscgaux.info/Boston_light/boston_light.html
- Bodie Island Lighthouse is the third that has stood in the vicinity of Bodie Island on the Outer Banks in North Carolina and was built in 1872. It stands 156-feet and is often overshadowed by the nearby Cape Hattersa Lighthouse. Its renovation last year has opened the tower for climbing making it a must visit, must see in the region.
Image Source: http://www.outerbanks.org/listing/?lid=504
- Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota is a lighthouse situated southwest of Silver Bay Minnesota, USA. Designed by lighthouse engineer Ralph Russell Tinkham, it was completed in 1910 at a cost of $75,000. Every November 10, the lens in this lighthouse is illuminated in memory of the Great Lakes freighter Edmund Fitzgerald which sank in 1975 claiming the lives of 29 people.
Image Source: http://astrobob.areavoices.com/2010/07/24/whats-under-split-rock-lighthouse-might-surprise-you/
- Ponce de Leon Inlet Light is a lighthouse and museum located at Ponce de Leon Inlet in Central Florida. It stands at 175 feet and is the tallest lighthouse in the state and one of the tallest in the United States. The lighthouse became a National Historic Landmark in 1998 after its restoration by the POnce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association.
- The Saugerties Light is a lighthouse on Hudson River north of Saugerties, new York built in 1869 replacing an earlier 1863 lighthouse. Its service to the Coast Guard ended in 1954 and it is currently managed by the non-profit Saugerties Ligthouse Conservancy which bought the lighthouse and restored it. This lighthouse provides one of the most unique visitor experiences of any light in the country. It has an inn that offers overnight accomodations for those wishing to experience early morning scenery. Visitors can wander up to the lighthouse and enjoy the views of the Hudson with the Catskill Mountains in the background.
Image Source: http://www.meetup.com/hvhikers/events/222769498/
- Block Island Southeast Light is a lighthouse located on Mohegan Bluffs at the southeastern corner of Block Island, Rhose Island. It was designated a US National Historic Landmark in 1997 as one of the most architecturally sophisticated lighthouses built in the US in the 19th century. The lighthouse has a small msueum and gift shop in the base of the tower and is open during the summer season offering guided tours to the top for a small fee that helpds towards the restoration.
Image Source: http://innharborhill.com/blog/tag/block-island/
Image Source: http://www.asergeev.com/pictures/archives/compress/2004/388/10.htm