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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
Close up of the lighthouse.Muskegon South Breakwater Lighthouse
Close up of the lighthouse.
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.

May 23, 2017

After the collapse of the Umpqua River Lighthouse in 1864, rather than rebuilding the lighthouse, the Lighthouse Board chose to erect the Cape Arago Lighthouse 25 miles to the south as most of the commerce had shifted to southern Oregon ports. Read the history of the Cape Arago Lighthouse now.

May 16, 2017

To guide vessels into Newburyport Harbor, private aids to navigation were established at the mouth of the Merrimack as early as the 1790s. It would take until 1873 for the Lighthouse Board to build the government-maintained Newburyport Harbor Range Lights. Read the history of the Newburyport Harbor Range Lights now.

April 30, 2017

Although originally known as as Paul's Head or Thorndike's Point for its 17th-century owner Paul Thorndike, its name was changed to Hospital Point around 1801 when a smallpox hospital was established on the point. When a lighthouse was established on the point in 1872, it was given the name Hospital Point Lighthouse. Rad more of the history of the Hospital Point 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.