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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
Hornby lighthouse on the Inner Head.Hornby Lighthouse
Hornby lighthouse on the Inner Head.
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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.

March 22, 2017

The Midcoast of Maine is very jagged and rocky, with its points often said to resemble rocky fingers, plunging into the Atlantic Ocean. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Pemaquid Lighthouse, near Bristol, Maine. Read the history of the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.

March 15, 2017

By the late 1700s, the village of Wiscasset, Maine began to prosper due to its deep-water harbor. This attribute helped drive its growth as a center for shipbuilding, lumbering, and fishing. To safely guide mariners into the Sheepscot River, the Hendricks Head Lighthouse was established on the westernmost point of Southport Island. Read the history of the Hendrick's Head Lighthouse now.

March 7, 2017

By the late 1800s, Boothbay Harbor was a large fishing and shipbuilding center. The western approach has been often treacherous due to a pair of islets off the southerly end of Southport Island known as "The Cuckolds." Although they were marked with a day mark in 1874, and a fog bell in 1892, the Cuckolds Lighthouse wasn't established until 1907. Read more of the history of the Cuckolds Lighthouse.

February 28, 2017

By the late 1800s, the lower segment of the Kennebec River was heavily traveled from the Atlantic Ocean to Bath, Maine. Vessels heading north for Bath, had to negotiate two treacherous right-angle turns in the Kennebec River. The Doubling Point Lighthouse was built in 1898 to mark one of the turns. Read the history of the Doubling 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.