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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
The lighthouse from the harbor.Ashtabula Lighthouse
The lighthouse from the harbor.
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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.

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.

January 4, 2017

Did you know that more than 100 years before the Boon Island Lighthouse was established, survivors of the Nottingham Galley had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive on the tiny island? Read more of the history of the Boon Island Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in New England.

December 31, 2016

Did you know that the keepers assigned to the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse sometimes had to crawl the nearly 2,000 feet as there was originally no dwelling at the tower, to safely reach the lighthouse. Conditions improved by 1886 when a railing was installed along the breakwater, and a few years after that, a small two room dwelling was built. Read the history of the Portland Breakwater 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.