57 Fun Facts About Lighthouses: Are They Still Operational? | Kidadl

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57 Fun Facts About Lighthouses: Are They Still Operational?

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Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

Have you ever wondered how lighthouses came into existence?

If you are someone who is interested in random fun facts, like that of when the lighthouses came up, what is lighthouse keeping, what is the technology behind it, what role does it play, how the lighthouse tower is built, the tallest lighthouse tower, and many more like that, then this informational piece is what you need! From history to a technicality, from lighthouse service to lighthouse keepers, you will find all the information, added to that will be some random and fun facts that will leave you fascinated about them.

You all might have seen tall red and white structures built in the middle of the sea, if not in person then maybe in movies and shows; this structure is what is called a lighthouse and is used to guide ships during night. So, without any further delay, let us have a look at all such information. Lighthouses are built in the ocean using the submerged caisson method.

The water route has always been one of the major transportation routes, whether for goods or for people. In the ancient world, one can say that this route was not very safe, yet most of the people were dependent on waterways for their regular work and voyages. If we try to make a rough estimate, then there are approximately three million ships that lay wrecked on the floor of the ocean. So, as this transportation grew and the accidents became frequent, a need for the guiding light for these ships came up.

Something which can show the direction at night while also providing some facilities to lost sailors: that’s where lighthouses came into the picture. Lighthouses were not built directly; rather they evolved from bonfires at the coast, to them being done on the top of the tower, to the present-day lighthouses. Did you know that a manned lighthouse needs one to five keepers to keep running?

Do you know why a lighthouse is equipped with a bright light? How does a steady light work as a fog signal in a lighthouse? Read on to know more about the importance of radio beacons and the Lighthouse Service. Afterward, also check St Augustine Lighthouse facts and the lighthouse at Alexandria Egypt. 

History Of Lighthouses

The towers, which we consider lighthouses, are not the earliest source of guide for a sailing ship. In the ancient world, when lighthouses were not even built, big fires on the coast of the sea used to work as the guiding light for ships.

While if we consider the first recorded lighthouse, it will bring us to Egypt. The name of the first, and the oldest lighthouse recorded from Egypt is Pharos of Alexandria which was constructed around 280 BC. Unlike the present-day lighthouses, the source of light for this lighthouse was a huge bonfire that took place at its summit, which worked as the guiding light for the ships. It was not only the first of its kind but also the tallest lighthouse with a height of about 450 ft (136 m).

This first recorded lighthouse was abandoned due to the destruction caused to it by earthquakes, somewhere in the 14th century, but after years of being abandoned, the original tower was reconstructed and renovated and is still serving its purpose, known as the Citadel of Qaitbay. Up until the 1700s, the light cast by these lighthouses was from big bonfires, candles, coal, and wood covered by glass windows to protect the fire from getting extinguished, which also helped in reflecting the light father.

During this time, a more efficient oil-based wick which was circular in shape came into use and worked as a great development in the history of lighthouses. The boom in the construction of these lighthouse structures is recorded somewhere in the 18th century when international trade became common through the route of the Atlantic Ocean. The first lighthouse that is recorded during the modern era is that named, Eddystone Lighthouse, in England, which was more durable and served a better purpose than the early lighthouses. The first lighthouse to be built in America was at Boston Harbor around 1716.

There are many similar structures being built at the coasts of the northern part of the land. Though the first lighthouses were made of wood here; the fire accidents made them build them out of stones, the more desirable material for serving this purpose. Finally giving us the most expensive St George Reef Light.

The Technology Involved In Lighthouses

The technical aspects of a lighthouse involve light, and sound signals. While we looked at how the lighthouses used big fire systems in ancient times, we will be looking at the development of light technology along with the sound sources that changed from the beginning to the present day sound waves that are being used in the lighthouses.

Lighthouse illumination source: Open fires, and candles, followed by Argand hollow wick lamps and parabolic reflectors in the 18th century. First, some whale oil was used followed by kerosene in the 1870s, replaced by electric lights and carbide in the 20th century.

The first Fresnel lens was used but was replaced by rotating aerobeacons due to high maintenance. While if we consider the modern lighthouses, then these rotating aerobeacons are finding a replacement with higher intensity omnidirectional flashes, thus, the light emitted has more to do with time than directed.

As of 2020, most lighthouses have light stations equipped with LED lights which have more hours of emission than the filament source.

Sound source: While the light was a big development in the lighthouses, sound and audible warnings were installed later after realizing that they can aid in informing the sailor better, along with visual signals. Present-day lighthouses use radio-activated signals that are equipped to help the sailors during bad weather conditions.

Portland Head Light, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine was completed in 1791 and is the oldest lighthouse in Maine.

Maintenance Of Lighthouses

In earlier times, coast guards were also asked to work as the lighthouse keeper. Contrary to popular beliefs, a lighthouse keeper was not all alone in the waste sea but was allowed to take their families and move to the nearby quarters.

The head keeper's pay in the USA was around $48,520 while the United States Coast Guard is the organization responsible for the maintenance of lighthouses.

While earlier, lighthouse keepers were responsible to provide signals, now the work is done by machines, as on finding moisture in the air, first fog signals turn on, similarly, radio signals are used for communication with the sailing ships.

Strange Stuff: Lighthouses

As strange as these lighthouses are, there are still some fun and strange facts associated with this strange stuff. Let us have a look at these interesting facts.

Lighthouses are painted with different colors for different reasons. A lighthouse that is purely white in color is to warn the sailor against the dark background. While red and white stripes on the lighthouse are to indicate the tower stands on a white background.

Lighthouses close to each other have different flash patterns to help the sailor distinguish their different locations.

The oldest lighthouse existing is La Coruna situated in Spain, constructed around 20 B.C. While a roman lighthouse was built in 40 A.D. on Dover cliffs in the UK.

America’s first lighthouse was the Boston lighthouse situated on Little Brewster Island.

The oldest and still existing lighthouse of America is Sandy Hook. It was paid for by the shipping interest in New York City and the sale of some lottery tickets.

Alcatraz Island is the first lighthouse built by America on the west coast.

Crescent City, CA is the City with the most expensive lighthouse named St George Reef. It was constructed in around 10 years which cost about $715,000 and was abandoned in 1972 by the Coast Guard.

There are about 129 lighthouses in Michigan along the Great Lake, and it is the American state with the highest number of lighthouses.

Lighthouse keeping was the first government job offered to females.

There are 65 lighthouses in Maine.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for fun facts about lighthouses, then why not take a look at historical facts about Puerto Rico, or historical facts about New York?

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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