Posted by: penpatience | September 1, 2021


WRITERS WORDS: “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” – Anne Lamont





     I love lighthouses.  The tall, majestic, lighted towers have guided mariners in the United States and world waters for many centuries.  It was a first visit to see and climb the Jupiter Lighthouse located in Jupiter, Florida that inspired me to learn about lighthouse history and the devoted Keepers who kept lighthouse lights lit through years past.

Years ago, I climbed the 100 step, circular staircase to the top of the Jupiter lighthouse. Standing there attempting to catch my breath😊, I was captivated by the spectacular views of land and sea.  My thoughts traveled to the many lighthouse keepers who climbed multiple steps, up and down, many times day and night. I had to marvel at the stamina and dedication required to keep the lights burning throughout these historic eras while often living in isolated environments with, perhaps, only immediate family and seas for companionship.

There is an abundance of historical information and data regarding lighthouses, too much to share in this Musing. My favorite and a great lighthouse resource is The Lighthouse Digest Magazine, ) but here are a few highlights I find especially interesting:

·       The most famous lighthouse ever built, the Pharos of Alexandra, (Egypt-285 B.C.) was the first recorded seamark with a light. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1302, it was considered one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World.

·       The first Lighthouse built by the United States government was Cape Henry Light, Virginia, completed in 1792.

·       The oldest lighthouse in America is the Boston Lighthouse on Little Brewster Island, Boston Harbor, MA. Because this lighthouse is the oldest and only non-automated station in the United States, Congress declared this light always be a staffed station where keepers must still turn the light on at night and turn it off at daybreak. Boston Lighthouse is the only official lighthouse with a Keeper. All others have either Coast Guard staff/families or caretakers to maintain property, etc.

·       Michigan is the State with the most lighthouses – approximately 124-130.

·       Kerosene, in 1877, was the primary fuel used to power lighthouses, but in 1841 the first Freznel lens was imported from France and installed in Navesink Lighthouse in New Jersey.

·       Originally, lighthouse keepers were male, but in the 19th century lighthouse keeping was one of the first U.S. government jobs available to women.  (I muse… and applaud this decision!)

·       The first American lighthouse to use electricity was the Statue of Liberty in 1886.


The United States has approximately 600 lighthouses – so little time to see and learn about them all! However, I recently viewed a NOVA, PBS-TV documentary about how the 160-year-old Gay Head Lighthouse in Aquinnah, Ma. originally constructed in Martha’s Vineyard in 1796, was threatened and saved by a spectacular move. In 1910, erosion had eaten away soil and clay and a funded investigation began to determine if this lighthouse could be protected in place or moved to safety.

The short story: “The Gay Head Lighthouse Committee worked in conjunction with the Town of Aquinnah and the Martha’s Vineyard Island community to raise approximately $3.5 million to relocate the lighthouse about 129 feet from its former location. The lighthouse was relocated by Expert House Movers and General Contractor, International Chimney.” (Reference: The Gay Head Lighthouse)

I watched the difficult ministrations required to move the lighthouse to its new location. I was awed by this spectacular, well-planned move. You may ask this question. Why go to all this trouble to save this and other old lighthouses? My answer. Lighthouses have guided and saved the lives of mariners and their livelihoods from the seas from the earliest centuries and continue to play valuable roles in today’s societies.

Yes, we have many high-technological advances today, but knowledgeable mariners and seamen traveling well known seas know when they see a familiar landmark beam, especially in this century’s challenging storms, they have renewed confidence in successfully completing their journeys.

I recall an older Motel Six Commercial that became their noteworthy Motto – “we’ll leave the lights on for you.”  Yes, you guessed it…

Lighthouses – “they too, will have the lights on for you!

To Everyone: Safe travels!






  1. I also love lighthouses. They are mysteriously captivating. We travelled to the Oregon coast years ago and saw one near Nietarts Bay. I will have to find pictures of it.


  2. I didn’t know you also liked lighthouses. we’ll have to visit one….. Thanks for responding.


  3. I enjoyed this article very much. One could easily tell you loved lighthouses. As do I .


  4. Hi Millard. Good to hear from you. Yes, lighthouses are special to many of us. Best wishes. stay well. Frances


  5. I really enjoyed this, Frances! I love lighthouses, too, and enjoyed learning about their fascinating history. Hope you are well! Pat


  6. Hi Pat, Glad to hear from you. Yes, lighthouses are interesting with so much history. Stay well. Happy Writing! Frances


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