Foghorn Publishing graphic
The Lighthouse News and History Magazine

Answers to frequently asked questions

Tallest Lighthouse in USA - Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Outer Banks, North Carolina. 200 feet tall)

Oldest Light Station in America- Boston Lighthouse, on Little Brewster Island, Boston Harbor, MA. This is the oldest light station, but not the oldest tower. The original tower, built in 1716, was destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The tower that stands there today was built in 1783.

Oldest Standing Lighthouse in USA - Sandy Hook Lighthouse, New Jersey at the entrance to New York Harbor. Built in 1761-64. Part of the building of the lighthouse was paid for by the sale of lottery tickets and shipping interest in New York City paid for the rest.

Only manned lighthouse - All lighthouses in the United States are automated with the exception of Boston Lighthouse. Because Boston Light is the oldest station in the United States, Congress has declared that Boston Light always be a staffed station where the keepers must still turn the light on at night and turn it off at daybreak. Boston Light is the only official lighthouse with a keeper. However, there are many other light stations around the United States that have people living at them, however they are not keepers, and the lighthouses at these locations are automated and do not require a keeper to turn them on and off. Sometimes the press or other media will refer to these people as keepers, but they are not. They are either Coast Guard families living in the old keeper's house or caretakers who live there to maintain the property and protect against vandalism.

Lighthouse Depot - Lighthouse depots were built around the country to service lighthouses. All supplies were shipped to the lighthouse depots from where the supplies were shipped to the various lighthouses. The largest lighthouse depot was on Staten Island, New York. The Staten Island location also had manufacturing plants where many items were manufactured for lighthouses such as oil cans, crates, windows, household items, and just about anything else that could be manufactured cheaper than it could be purchased. Also, experiments were made on new types of lighting apparatus and building materials for the towers.

Lightship - A lightship is actually a floating lighthouse. They were stationed in areas where it was too expensive or too dangerous to build a lighthouse. Lightship duty was considered the most dangerous duty of all in the Lighthouse Service and later in the Coast Guard. Lightships were not allowed to leave their position under any circumstances and no matter how severe the weather was. Lightships are no longer used and were replaced by modern ocean and deep water buoys. There are only a 14 lightships left in existence, with a few having been restored such as the Ambrose Lightship in New York and Huron Lightship in Michigan. Efforts are underway to save the rest of them.

Lighthouse Tenders - These are vessels that were used to bring supplies to the lighthouses. The Lighthouse Inspector would also travel on the Lighthouse Tenders to visit lighthouses and make sure the keeper and his or her family was taking good care of the lighthouse.

Most famous lighthouse ever built - Pharos of Alexandria (Egypt) was actually the first recorded seamark with a light. It was built in 285 B.C. and destroyed by an earthquake in 1302. It was referred to as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

State with the most lighthouses - Michigan with 124. (Depending on definitions, the number may be about 130.)

First lighthouse completed under the Government of the United States of America - Portland Head Light, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine was completed in 1791, making it the first lighthouse completed by the new federal government. However, construction of the lighthouse had been started by the State of Massachusetts under the orders of Gov. John Hancock. At that time, Maine was part of Massachusetts.

First Lighthouse actually built by the Government of the United States - Cape Henry Light, Virginia, completed in 1792.

Contact Us       Lighthouse Facts       Lighthouse History       Terms and Conditions       About Us