Famous Lighthouses in America
Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The earliest lighthouses were merely hillside bonfires to warn ships away from the shore and were believed to have been started in Alexandria, Greece around 285 B.C. The first lighthouses in America were built in the North Atlantic to serve the brisk trade brought by clipper ships to the new world.



America's first lighthouse was Boston Lighthouse, built on Little Brewster Island in 1716, has a long and exciting history. For instance, its first keeper was responsible for piloting vessels entering the harbor but was drowned along with his family one stormy night when his boat capsized. Benjamin Franklin wrote a ballad about the sad incident, selling it on the streets of Boston to curious readers. The lighthouse was damaged by fire in 1751 so badly that only the walls remained; the British commandeered the restored lighthouse in 1774 and it was the scene of many guerilla operations and other skirmishes.

When the British finally left America in 1776 amid a hail of gunfire, they left timed charges at the lighthouse that destroyed it once again. Boston Lighthouse was rebuilt shortly afterward and still stands today on a very dangerous strip of coastline so beset by fog that one particularly dense area is called the Ghost Walk. Its light was extinguished during WWII but burns today with 1,800,000 candlepower that is visible for sixteen miles.

Just outside San Francisco, Farallon Lighthouse was built in 1855 just after the gold rush. The influx of people into California meant that the increasing number of trade ships would need protection from the coastline and so a lighthouse was built on Farallon Island. It was not without considerable difficulty that the lighthouse was finished; the cliffs of the island were so steep that for years a mule was kept on the island to help bring in supplies. Today Farallon lighthouse has a radio beacon as well as a light and a fog signal and is surrounded by seals as well as being a major nesting area for birds.

Another of America's famous lighthouses is the Cape Florida lighthouse, finished in 1825 and standing 65 feet high with a solid base of five-foot thick brick. This lighthouse helps guide mariners through the dangerous Florida Reed and into Cape Florida Channel. Like so many other lighthouses, its history is fraught with peril and adventure. In 1836, the Seminole Indians attacked the lighthouse, manned only by the keeper and his servant. During the ensuing battle, they set fire to the wooden door and windows. The keeper was forced to flee to the top with his servant, destroying the stairs so they wouldn't be pursued. Trapped at the top of the lighthouse with the oil for the lamps burning fiercely, they stepped out onto the walkway where the unfortunate servant was shot dead. Only by pretending that he, too, was dead, did the keeper escape a similar fate. As the fire was about to burn him to death, it burned through the floor and sent everything to the bottom. The lighthouse keeper was rescued by a passing ship the next day and the lighthouse was rebuilt in 1846 only to be destroyed in the civil war then rebuilt in 1867.

The loneliest lighthouse in America is probably the Spectacle Reef Lighthouse in Michigan, 1,012 miles away from the nearest land and surrounded much of the year by ice. It was built in 1870 and first lit in 1874; supplies were brought in by steamer and eleven of its 93 feet is built underwater. The ice can pile up to seven feet above the door! The alternating white and red lights can be seen seventeen miles away.

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Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ryan_Gilbert


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