Our country’s history of helping sailors navigate North American waters dates all the way back to 1673, when, according to the United States Lighthouse Society, a beacon was hoisted in Nantasket (now Hull), Massachusetts, fueled by “fier-bales of pitch and ocum” in an iron basket at its base.
Fast forward nearly half-a-century to when the first lighthouse was built on Boston’s Little Brewster Island in 1716. But the engineers and lighthouse keepers of that era couldn’t know just how iconic these structures would become throughout the USA.
Over the next two centuries, lighthouses sprung up on coastlines around the country, from Maine to Hawaii, Florida to Alaska, and even landlocked states with massive lakes. Today, more than 400 lighthouses can be found in 31 of the 50 United States.
In celebration of National Lighthouse Day on August 7, we took a look at some of the 400-plus lighthouses around the country. Browse through the gallery above and see if your favorite’s included.
Fun Lighthouse Facts from LighthouseFriends.com:
Oldest lighthouse site: Boston Light on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor was built in 1716, but destroyed in the Revolutionary War. Today’s tower dates from 1783.
Oldest lighthouse:Sandy Hook Lighthouse in Highlands, New Jersey, June 11, 1764.
The first female lighthouse keeper was Hannah Thomas, who took over the (Plymouth) Gurnet Lighthouse in Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts, in 1776 when her husband went to serve in the Revolutionary War.
The first two lighthouses on the Great Lakes were built in 1818.
The first Fresnel lens was installed in the Twin Lights Lighthouse (aka the Navesink Light Station) in Highlands, New Jersey in 1841.
The first screwpile lighthouse, the Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse was completed in 1850 in Brandywine Shoal, New Jersey.
The first lighthouse on the West Coast was California’s Alcatraz Island Lighthouse, which first shown its Fresnel lens in 1854; it was demolished in 1909.
The oldest lighthouse on the West Coast is the Point Pinos Lighthouse, which began operation on February 1, 1855.
The state with the most…