NATIONAL LIGHTHOUSE DAY
Observed annually on August 7th, National Lighthouse Day honors the beacon of light that for hundreds of years symbolized safety and security for ships and boats at sea. At one time, the beacon of light could be found across almost all of America’s shorelines.
A lighthouse is described as a tower, building or any other type of structure that is designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses and used as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways.
A lighthouse serves multiple purposes such as marking dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals, and reefs providing safe entry to harbors. They also provide aerial guidance. Once lit by open fire and candles, they’re now brightly lit by electric or oil-fueled lamps. However, the number of lighthouses are declining. Maintenance is expensive and modern electrical navigation systems are replacing them.
- Their style may differ depending on the location and purpose but they have standard components.
- The lantern room is a glassed-in housing at the top of a lighthouse tower
- Beneath the lantern room is the Watch Room or Service Room
- Next to the Watch room is an open gallery.
- Development accelerated in the 17th century with Britain’s Trinity House constructing its first in 1609.
- In North America, St. Augustine, Florida built the first lighthouse. Printed on a 1791 map, it had been built by Menendez after his landing in 1586.
- Boston Light built on little Brewster Island next in 1716.
- The oldest existing lighthouse in the United States is the Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey. Built in 1764, this lighthouse is still in operation.
- At the end of the 19th century, the United States had the most lighthouses of any nation.
- The 9th Act of the first Congress created the US Bureau of Lighthouses in 1789, which placed lighthouses under federal control.
- The United States Coast Guard took over on July 7, 1939.
- Hobbyists enjoy visiting and photographing lighthouses. They also collect ceramic replicas.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalLighthouseDay
Tour lighthouses near you. Take a road trip. With lighthouses on every coast and the great lakes, one or more is surely worth the trip! As you celebrate, you can learn more about lighthouses, too.
- Read Lighthouses of North America: Beacons from Coast to Coast by Sylke Jackson.
- Watch a documentary about lighthouses. Give A Day in the Life of a Lighthouse Keeper a view from National Geographic. Or perhaps, Behind The Light: Lighthouse Keepers will interest you.
- Share your experiences visiting lighthouses including visits to lighthouse museums around the country.
Share your photos of lighthouses and use #NationalLighthouseDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL LIGHTHOUSE DAY HISTORY
On August 7, 1789, the United States Congress approved an act for the “establishment and support of Lighthouse, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers.” It was two hundred years later that Congress designated August 7 as National Lighthouse Day.