From ruins at the bottom of the sea signifying the planet’s first lighted structure, mystifying events such as drowning, death by snakes, and unsolved disappearances, here are 12 Illuminating Lighthouse Facts That Will Blow Your Mind!
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12. They Freeze Over
Imagine fantastic towers and staircases completely covered with ice and dripping in icicles—like something out of The Chronicles of Narnia—and you’ve got a crystal-clear idea of what happens when it gets so cold that lighthouses freeze over. Two lighthouses, separated by only a catwalk, sit on the St. Joseph North Pier on the coast of Lake Michigan and are notoriously famous for their illustrious transformations every winter.
11. They’re All Unique
The two main purposes of a lighthouse are to serve as a navigational aid and to warn boats of dangerous areas. What we bet you didn’t know, is that all towers are unique, and they are specifically given different colors and patterns such as diamonds, spirals, and stripes, with which to distinguish one from the next.
10. They are Still Used Today
Despite impressive advances in technology over the years, lighthouses are still used today. In fact, they are integral aids for navigation currently implemented by the United States Coast Guard. Due to high maintenance expenses however, as well as growing electronic navigation systems, the lighthouse is becoming less prominent.
9. Everyone wants to be a Lighthouse Keeper
Interesting enough, many enthusiasts yearn to experience the intriguing life of a lighthouse keeper. Take one Ohio woman, for example, Sheila Consaul paid 71,010 dollars for Lake Erie’s Fairport Harbor West Breakwall Lighthouse in 2011 and has dedicated her life to fixing it up ever since. Consaul is one of many who forgo careers to pursue the life of a lighthouse keeper.
8. Some Don’t Come Cheap
The most expensive lighthouse built in America is St. George Reed near Crescent City, California. The construction took ten whole years in the making and cost the county a whopping 715,000 dollars.
7. The USA— where more is more
The Good ‘ol US-of-A, a nation where less is not more, where everything is bigger. Also here is home to the most lighthouses in the world, with more than 115 lighthouses along the Great Lakes in Michigan alone— that’s far more than any other state in the country. In total, the United States had 1,902 working lighthouses at one time, all standing guard along coasts, islands, inlets, and in the middle of bustling harbors.
6. A Structure Still Standing
The world’s oldest existing lighthouse still standing is considered the Tower of Hercules and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that marks the entrance of Spain’s La Coruna harbor in the municipality of Galicia. The lighthouse is amazingly still operational despite being erected in the first century.
5. Did you know?
The first-ever lighthouse dates to the third century BC! Egypt’s own lighthouse called Pharos of Alexandria was made from a fire on a platform to signal the port entrance. Soon, a structure was put into place by the builders of the Ptolemaic Kingdom under the rule of Ptolemy II Philadelphus.
4. Female Lighthouse Keepers
Amazingly, the duty of lighthouse keeping was one of the first U.S. government jobs available to women dating back to the 19th century. At a time when women had few opportunities outside of the constricting domestic sphere, the position of a lighthouse keeper was made available to them by the government and many served their roles honorably
3. The Little Brewster Island Lighthouse Tragedy of 1718
The world’s very first lighthouse keeper in America, George Worthylake, made 50 pounds a year running the Boston Light— the nation’s first light station built in America. But with great success, comes grave tragedy, and soon the lighthouse keeper endured an untimely death. On November 3rd, 1718, Worthylake, his wife Ann, their daughter Ruth and three others drowned while returning to the island after a Sunday church service in Boston.
2. The Lighthouse of Snake Island
Far off the coast of the state of Sao Paulo, sits an island so beautiful it’s forbidden, as thousands of deadly snakes pervade the region. One of the only charming qualities of the area is the luminous lighthouse which can be found proudly gazing out to sea. Despite the snakes, someone had to man the operation and in the early 1900s, a lighthouse keeper and his family did just that.
1. The Flannan Isles Mystery
The 2019 film The Vanishing starring Gerard Butler tells this bizarre story. In December of 1900, a boat called Hesperus set sail for the island of Eilean Mor— one of seven islets of the Flannan Isles off the coast of northwestern Scotland. On a routine mission to replace new lighthouse keepers and relieve the current ones of their duties, a horrifying discovery was made upon reaching the island.