Lighthouses serve as navigational aid systems at sea or inland waterways by emitting light from a system of lamps and optical lenses housed in strategically located structures. Their existence and use date back to the B.C. era. One of the oldest known, though no longer in existence, was the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos Lighthouse) dating back to 280 B.C. In addition to their functional significance, lighthouses have a broad universal appeal, perhaps due to their symbolic significance. Lighthouses are emotionally engaging with romantic undertones and may even be viewed as representing man's struggle against elements of nature. They are also viewed as beacons of hope and inspirational guiding lights. Photographers are among those enamored by the lighthouses. Lighthouse structures automatically become natural focus, subject in an image. I, too, became infatuated with lighthouses and started my lighthouse collection as can be seen below. Also, in couple months I will be going on a 10-day tour of lighthouses in the Brittany region of France and will be adding to my existing collection.
One of my favorite images is that of Havre de Grace, MD Concord Point lighthouse at sunrise in July. The sky colors in the background were just phenomenal. I also had an opportunity to photograph the same lighthouse on a rainy December night. The mood and feeling are totally different but the lighthouse dominates the scene in both cases. Concord Point Lighthouse, built in 1827, is a 36-foot granite structure at the entry point of the Susquehanna River into Chesapeake Bay.
Maine is known for its lighthouses. Nubble Light, Cape Neddick Lighthouse, being one of the most famous ones. It's one of the most painted and photographed lighthouses in the world and an image of this lighthouse was even aboard of Voyager II spacecraft in collection aimed to teach extraterrestrials about Earth. This brick and cast iron 41-foot structure was built in 1879 and is still in use today. Its name, Nubble, derives from it being built on a nub of land. It's situated on top of a cliff 88 feet above the sea level and its light is visible for 13 miles.
Another well known and frequently photographed lighthouse is the Pemaquid Lighthouse. It's image can be seen on Maine's official quarter and one of its prominent paintings was the 1929 work "Pemaquid Light" by Edward Hopper. The original structure was built in 1827 but it had to be replaced in 1835 because poor workmanship and use of salt water in the mortar led to its deterioration. It sits on top of ancient (more than 400 million year old) geological metamorphic and igneous rock formation with intricate patterns. The first image was taken from the bottom of rock formation leading to the lighthouse a day after the storm and shows the lighthouse and its reflection in a pool of water. The second image represents another view at the same level as the lighthouse.
Portland Head Lighthouse is another prominent historic Maine lighthouse. It was commissioned by George Washington and completed in 1791 with subsequent modifications. It is the state's oldest lighthouse. It sits on top of Cushing Formation bedrock, dated back about 470 million years and resulting from volcanic eruptions even preceding formation of Himalayas or Alps. The image was taken as an evening storm was approaching.
Another U.S. coastal area with many lighthouses is along the Carolinas. Morris Island Light was constructed in 1876 at the entrance of Charleston Harbor. Altered ocean currents over time resulted it winding up several hundred feet of shore. Consequently it was decommissioned and replaced by a new light at the other end of the harbor. The image here was taken from the Folly Beach clearly showing its offshore location.
Historic Hunting Island Lighthouse in South Carolina was constructed in 1859, destroyed by Confederate forces during the Civil War and rebuilt in 1875. The 132-foot brick and cast iron structure was built to allow disassembly and relocation which actually took place 14 years later. The lighthouse was moved 1.25 miles due to beach erosion. It has been decommissioned and is open to visitors via a 167 step spiral staircase to provide a phenomenal view of the Atlantic and nearby area.
The Bodie Island lighthouse on North Carolina's Outer Banks was constructed in 1859, replacing an earlier unsuccessful, poorly designed structure. However, this structure didn't fare much better as it was blown up by Confederate forces two years later. The present 170-foot brick lighthouse was built in 1872 at the other end of the Oregon Inlet between freshwater marshland and pine trees.
Cape Hatteras lighthouse on the Hatteras Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks was initially built in 1803 with a 60-foot extension in 1853. However, disrepair led to its abandonment and the current lighthouse was constructed in 1870 with its distinctive paint and light sequence for easy identification. This 199-foot, 269 step brick and granite base structure is the tallest brick lighthouse in the state. Beach erosion necessitated for this lighthouse to be moved 2900 feet to its current location. Its distinctive identifying patterns can be seen in the image below.
Kilauea Lighthouse (renamed Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse in honor of Senator Inouye who championed its restoration) is a 52-foot structure 180 feet above Pacific Ocean on a lava peninsula in Kauai, HI . The Classical Revival Architecture style reinforced concrete structure was constructed in 1913 and is presently part of Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. It was featured in couple Disney animated Stitch films. Its painterly image is shown below.
Howth Lighthouse constructed in 1818 at the entrance to Dublin Bay Howth Harbor in an outer suburb of Dublin. It has historic roots going back to the Irish Independence struggle and the Irish Civil War.
Chicago Harbor Light, cast iron atop of concrete base lighthouse in Chicago harbor east of the Navy Pier, was constructed for the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition and was considered an engineering wonder. It was moved to its current location in 1919. It is on the National Registry of Historic Places and a Chicago Landmark.
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