Hey, Lighthouse Lovers!
Not only picturesque buildings, but symbols of hope, lighthouses are beautiful towers designed to emit light great distances with the purpose of helping pilots at sea navigate their ships through dangerous waters in the blanket of night. With radio, GPS, and other means of modern communication, lighthouses are now more-or-less poetic relics of our technology preceding the digital age, but still they stand like gentle giants peering out to the distant horizon.
Today we celebrate Lighthouse Day. Trips to visit a local lighthouse are a popular family activity in the summertime—not to mention a great way to observe Lighthouse Day! I recall a handful of trips my family made to check out lighthouses in our surrounding area. It was an awesome experience each time.
To celebrate on the Blog today, let’s explore the past for a little history lesson on lighthouses. As is the case with many things, the history of the lighthouse goes back farther than you likely expect. The very first lighthouse was built around 280 B.C. in ancient Egypt. An enormous bonfire was lit each night at the very top of the tower which stood taller than 450 feet! The beacon was visible from over 30 miles away!
This Egyptian Lighthouse was so big that it was included as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was toppled by an earthquake in 1303 A.D.
Since ancient times, people have experimented with the materials to use in lighthouse construction. Early American lighthouses were short for towers and made out of wood or stone. The bulk of the towers built before 1800 have either fallen or caught fire. It was understood that lighthouses would have to be made sturdier and the 17th Century started building tall towers like they had in ancient times.
Gentle giants of the coast, they were made of brick and cut stone. It became customary for a lighthouse to include living quarters for the keeper of a lighthouse—after all, somebody had to be there day after day to light the lantern and perform all the general maintenance duties to keep the lighthouse in operation!
Eventually, lighthouse towers were constructed from iron and concrete and automated signals have done away with the need for a keeper or those quiet days they used to live along the shore.
Lots of lighthouses still remain in operation as the only tangible and reliable means of navigation—whereas radio or GPS signals can be lost—but a growing number of towers are being decommissioned and their lights are going out.
Lack of funds has led to lack of maintenance and lighthouse structures have been left to weather the elements without the help of human hands. Rough weather over time has already toppled abandoned lighthouses and these towers will continue to fall as time wears on their neglected foundations.
In short, lighthouses will certainly span your lifetime, but they won’t be around forever. Appreciate the opportunity to explore these interesting towers of our history and, as always, thanks for reading!