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  • Why lighthouses?

    It all started as a Christmas gift. My stepmother had a great nautical decor, but no lighthouses. I got out the graph paper and drew designs of Cape Hatteras and Montauk. From there on, the designs took on a life of their own, soon numbering over 100. Having lived most of my life as part of the U.S. Navy, maritime history and the stories of the lighthouses were fascinating.

    The history of North American lighthouses is closely tied to the history of the United States. One of the first lighthouses standing at the time of the American Revolution was Sandy Hook Light (right) in New Jersey. Still standing, it is the earliest of the aids to navigation in America. Another early light was Boston Harbor Light (lower right), built in 1716. During the war, a tug-of-war was waged over who would control the lighthouse--the Colonials or the British. When the British left the colonies for the last time, they left a burning powder keg in the tower! Although the light had to be rebuilt after the war, it is still considered a Colonial light, and is the remaining manned lighthouse in the United States.

    One of the first acts of the new U.S. Congress was the establishment of the Lighthouse Service. Introduced on April 6, 1789 by Representative Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, the act called for the establishment and support of navigational aids. It was signed into law by President George Washington on August 7, 1789.

    There are many amusing and interesting stories concerning the lighthouses, their keepers and the land around them. There are stories of bravery, heroism, romance, and tragedy, as well as stories of hauntings. If it weren't for the lighthouses and the keepers who tended the lights night after night, the shores of America would be far more treacherous.

    "I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
    --John 8:12