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What is a lighthouse?

A lighthouse is loosely defined as a tower or other structure used to display a light for the guidance of ships to either avoid a dangerous area (shoals, etc.) or to identify a safe harbor.

Random Lighthouse Photo
Great shot of the light and bridge.Point Bonita Lighthouse
Great shot of the light and bridge.
See a larger version of this picture

What draws people to lighthouses?

There are many factors that draw people to lighthouses. Some like the remoteness, some like the scenic locations, and others like the romance associated with lighthouses. Perhaps some are drawn to the symbolism – a helpful light reaching out in the darkness. Others might like the idea of service – helping others. There are too many reasons to list.

I think the first time I came across a lighthouse, I was around 5 years old. I was watching Pete’s Dragon and remember how cool it was seeing the lighthouse and Pete climbing the tower. I watched that movie every time it was on TV.

At some point I forgot about the movie, but then, shortly after moving to North Carolina in 1997, I came across Bodie Island on a trip to the Outer Banks. Soon thereafter, I made an effort to visit most of the lighthouses in North Carolina.

After that, my wife and I started making trips to neighboring states, visiting lighthouses in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. After moving back to New York in 1999, we started visiting lights in and around New York, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and even Ontario.

Why are a bunch of lighthouses missing from this site?

A lot of people e-mail me asking why I am missing certain lighthouses. It's not that I don't like them or anything like that. I just haven’t had an opportunity to visit and photograph it yet.

Although we have visited several hundred lighthouses over the years, and others have contributed pictures of many more, I haven’t visited every lighthouse in the United States. And I probably never will. This website is a hobby, not a job. Every expense for this site, comes out of my own pocket. So when I occasionally travel, I try to visit as many lighthouses as I can.

With that, I hope you enjoy this website. I am continually updating it, trying to make it more user friendly, update the histories of the lighthouses, and including new pictures.

Website News!

What's new in the last 30 days.

February 12, 2017

The Kennebec River was an early trade corridor to the interior of Maine from the Atlantic Coast. In order to safeguard navigation, the Lighthouse Board established several lighthouses along its banks, including the Squirrel Point Lighthouse. Read the history of the Squirrel Point Lighthouse now.

February 6, 2017

Although lighthouses had been established on Seguin Island and Pond Island, near the mouth of the Kennebec River, they did little to help vessels once they were in the river. In 1898, the Lighthouse Board erected the Perkins Island Lighthouse, to help vessels navigate the river. Read more of the history of the Perkins Island Lighthouse now.

February 1, 2017

Located at the mouth of the Kennebec River, is the pond-less Pond Island. Although the origin of the name is unknown, the Pond Island Lighthouse was established in 1821 when it was built to adequately mark the west side of the entrance of the Kennebec River. Read the history of the Pond Island Lighthouse.

January 25, 2017

Maine's Casco Bay is dotted with many islands and rocky ledges that make navigating its waters treacherous. To mark the eastern approach into Portland Harbor, the Lighthouse Board erected the Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse in 1905. When the lighthouse went to public auction in 2010, it sold for an astonishing $190,000. Read more of the history of the Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse now.

January 21, 2017

Did you know that in 1890, more than a half a million people entered Portland Harbor via steamships? To provide safe passage into the harbor, the United States erected the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse in 1897. Read more of the history of the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse now.

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All photographs and information on this site is copyright © 2016 Bryan Penberthy unless otherwise specified. No content may be used without written permission. Any questions or comments, please email me.