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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
Sand Key lighthouse in the distance.Sand Key Lighthouse
Sand Key lighthouse in the distance.
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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.

April 25, 2017

As early as 1723, the Annisquam River was considered an important harbor of refuge for vessels traveling along the east coast. To mark the inlet, Congress appropriated $2,000 in 1800, and the following year, the Annisquam Harbor Lighthouse was built. Read more of the history of the Annisquam Lighthouse now.

April 21, 2017

By the late 1700s, Gloucester was fast becoming a major fishing port and shipbuilding center. To help mariners safely reach the inner harbor, the U.S. Government built the Ten Pound Island Lighthouse. Read the history of the Ten Pound Island Lighthouse now.

April 6, 2017

To protect Gloucester Harbor from the fury of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as mark the Dog Bar Reef, the Army Corps of Engineers built the 2,250-foot Dog Bar Breakwater. The Dog Bar Breakwater Light was established in 1905 to mark its end. Read the history of the Dog Bar Breakwater Light now.

April 3, 2017

By the 1700s, Gloucester was an important shipbuilding center and due its proximity to many fishing banks in the Atlantic, including the Georges Bank and others off the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, it quickly developed into a major fishing port. To mark the port of Gloucester, the Eastern Point Lighthouse was established in 1832.

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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.