My first exposure to lighthouses came during a day trip to the Outer Banks, taken while on an extended business trip to Research Triangle Park near Raleigh, North Carolina. Since that first visit to a lighthouse, a good portion of my vacation time (and savings) has been spent on pilgrimages to lighthouses. I initially had not planned on visiting every lighthouse in the United States, but that eventually did happen during a trip to Alaska in 2007.
Lighthouse trips are more enjoyable when shared with fellow enthusiasts, and several friends have caught the lighthouse bug and joined in the adventures over the years. This website is a chronicle of those journeys.
“What is it that draws you to lighthouses?” is a question I'm frequently asked. The answer is a complex mixture of reasons that is perhaps better understood through firsthand experience than through words. Part of the appeal lighthouses have is that they are found in some of the most beautiful settings, often on rugged coastlines dotted with conifers or on sandy beaches lined with palms. Lighthouses can also be found in the remote extremes of the country where a sunset or sunrise over a large body of water can be enjoyed in complete solitude. A perfect viewing platform for these spectacular settings is the walkway encircling the lantern room atop the lighthouse.
Perhaps lighthouses also appeal to our nostalgic and artistic senses as they are some of the most historic structures to be found in the United States, and the architectural detail found in many of them is amazing. Not only were they built to endure the ravages of the elements enhanced by their often exposed locations, but they were also built as monuments to engineering and design. With hewn rock foundations, spiral staircases, sloping conical towers, ornate water spouts, detailed window trimmings, and lantern rooms filled with giant Fresnel lenses and topped by spherical ventilator balls, lighthouses are simply beautiful structures. Witnessing a 1st-order Fresnel lens take the light of a small bulb or flame and shape it into beams of light, extending for miles from the lantern room and rotating like the spokes in a giant wheel, is a breathtaking experience. With its thousands of prisms, the Fresnel lens sits like a diamond at the top of the lighthouse tower.
Yet another reason for the allure found in lighthouses is the multitude of heroic rescues associated with them. Though many lighthouse keepers viewed their position merely as an isolating, low-paying job, for others it was seen as a chance to be of true service. Their devotion to tending the light, polishing the lens, sounding the fog signal, and assisting in rescues is remarkable.
Whether warning of danger or marking safe passage into a harbor, lighthouses stand as beacons of safety and security. Perhaps it is because of this and the imagery of light that lighthouses seem to appeal to the spiritual side of people, symbolizing He who is “the Light that shineth in darkness” and reminding us that we are also to let our “lights so shine.”
The directions, locations and descriptions for the lighthouses found herein are believed to be accurate, but are provided only as a reference. Some lighthouse pages have an audio description recorded by one of the lighthouse friends. Click on the audio link to listen. Questions, comments, and corrections can be sent to the friends through the link at the bottom of each page.
Welcome! I hope your trip through these lighthouse pages will help you plan your own lighthouse adventures, relive past lighthouse experiences, and participate in the restoration and preservation of lighthouses. If you have had the privilege of living at a lighthouse, or have stories or historic pictures that you would like to share, I would like to hear from you.