Tidbistories: National Lighthouse Day
Lighthouses have been around for centuries. While they are not as important to the safety of ships nowadays, they will forever remain an important reminder of our past.
Ships carrying cargo and passengers have been voyaging across open waters for centuries. In the earliest days of shipping, it was very difficult for ships and their crews to see coastlines at night or during storms. Fires were built on hillsides to help guide ships into port. But these fires were not very useful if a ship veered off course or got too close to land, rocks, or reefs.
The modern era of lighthouses began at the turn of the 18th century when transatlantic trade and travel skyrocketed. Rather than lighthouses being a beacon for ports, they became a visible warning for ships. Vessels carrying cargo or passengers would know to avoid these dangerous and treacherous areas along coastlines.
On August 7th, 1789, Congress approved An Act for the Establishment and Support of Lighthouses, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers. Our relatively new country knew of the importance of building and maintaining these structures for the present and future betterment of our nation.
It wasn’t until 200 years later when Senator John H. Chafee from Rhode Island worked hard to honor these architectural elements of the coastline. President Ronald Reagan agreed and on November 5th, 1988 he signed into public law stating August 7th would be known as National Lighthouse Day.
Lighthouses have a very strong, emotional connection with people. They are a way for today’s folks to be able to step back in time. Thanks to preservation societies, the National Park Service, and the United States Coast Guard, many lighthouses from a bygone era still stand. They may not be considered as useful to ships and their captains as they once were, but they are still very useful in terms of history and connecting with our past.
If you are fortunate enough to live near a coastline, maybe you have already ventured to a lighthouse. These tower-like structures a sight to behold! However, if you don’t live near any lighthouses, you can still take a “virtual” vacation to many of our countries finest lighthouses. You may also “travel” abroad to visit lighthouses in other countries as well!
With a quick search online or a trip to your local library, you too can embark on a new lighthouse adventure! Just think of where you can go!