Many lighthouses are tall brick or stone conical towers, such as the Little Sable tower shown on the main lighthouse page. Most folks think of this shape when they think of lighthouses. The first photo below shows another of this type – the YAQUINA HEAD lighthouse on the Oregon coast. The lower two photos are also of common types. In the first, the light is housed in a structure, called the “Lantern”, that rises out of the roof of the keeper’s house. This one, YAQUINA BAY, is also in Oregon. Another common type is seen in the second photo. This is the WHITEFISH POINT lighthouse, on Lake Superior, just west of Sault Ste. Marie. There are also lighthouses built completely offshore, on a rock ledge, or a created concrete caisson. Use the “Lighthouse Friends” link below to view Minot’s Ledge in Massachusetts, or Tillamook Rock in Oregon.
We have learned much about lighthouses, their operation, history, and lore, and would like to share it with you. So these pages will include some lighthouse information and lore, as well as photos of all of the places we’ve been, and links to some very interesting websites about lighthouses too. Then you too can claim to be a “Pharologist”, one who studies lighthouses.
Interested in lighthouses and their history? Consider subscribing to the “Lighthouse Digest,” a bi-monthly magazine chock-full of informative articles and historic photos. Visit the “Lighthouse Digest” website.
To find out about almost any lighthouse in the U.S. or Canada, use the “Lighthouse Friends” website.
For almost everything else you’ll ever want to know about lighthouses, visit the website of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, the foremost lighthouse education and preservation organization. “U.S. Lighthouse Society”
By the way, if I asked which state has the most lighthouses, most folks quickly answer, “Maine.” But that is not correct. Maine is number three. Think about it. The answer will be found somewhere below.
THE LIGHT STATION – As noted earlier, the lighthouse “TOWER” was just one of many structures that was part of the light station. The photos below show some of the more important of these. The leftmost photo is of the oil house at TAWAS POINT on Lake Huron. Prior to electricity, which didn’t come to many remote lighthouse sites until the 1950s, kerosene was the fuel of the lamp, and for household use too. It was stored in a fireproof building away from other structures. Prior to kerosene, lard oil was a primary fuel.
The center photo below is of the Fog Signal building at 40 MILE POINT, also on Lake Huron in Michigan. Most major lighthouses had a device to sound a warning when fog obscured the beam of the light. Early on bells were used; then steam-powered whistles. Steam whistles were replaced by air horns, shown here, powered by large air compressors in the building below. Light stations also had one or more boats for the use of the keepers. They were pulled up out of the water and kept in boathouses, such as the one shown on the right, located at AU SABLE Light Station. Barns for livestock, sheds, garages, and privies would also have been part of the scene at most sites.
The photo above shows two different types of “oil houses” at the Au Sable, Michigan, light station. The center one is of brick; the rightmost structure is one of the round metal (lined with brick) round ones seemingly unique to the Great Lakes. The left-most structure was perhaps the most important one at the station – the PRIVY !
MOST LIGHTHOUSES – The state that had, and still has the greatest number of lighthouses is – MICHIGAN ! Think about it. Michigan is two peninsulas, surrounded by the waters of three of the Great Lakes, lakes that were and are heavily used by commercial ships. New York is number two by the way.
Several more links to other lighthouse information appear below.