The U.S. is home to many incredible lighthouses, whose beacon lights warn and guide ships at sea. There are approximately 680 remaining lighthouses in 37 states with various distinguishing features. Here is an outline of three of the top lighthouses in the country.
Portland Head Lighthouse, Maine
The Portland Head, Maine lighthouse, which sits on the rocky shore protruding into Casco Bay, will appeal to those who enjoy a strong sense of history and beautiful panoramic views. Originally constructed by the Massachusetts Colony over 200 years ago, it is one of the oldest and most visited lighthouses in the U.S. In fact, George Washington appointed its first keeper, whose residence is now a maritime museum. The lighthouse was raised 20 feet during the Civil War and succumbed to storm damage in the 1970s. However, even though it has been altered over the years, parts of the original structure still remain.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Outer Bank, NC
Located on Cape Hatteras, in a dangerous stretch of North Carolina's Outer Banks, this black and white candy-cane-striped lighthouse is well-known around the world. It is the world's tallest brick lighthouse at 208 feet tall and 257 steps. Its light has beamed 20 long miles into the ocean since December 1, 1870. By the early 1990s, beach erosion caused major problems for the lighthouse. It had to be moved 2,900 ft. inland, along with the principal keepers' quarters and double keepers' quarters for safety. The project took 23 days. Bodie Island Lighthouse, another historical lighthouse is located nearby and is worth a stop if you're making a trip to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
George Reef Lighthouse, California
St. George Reef Lighthouse, the most expensive lighthouse (adjusted to cost, sits six miles off the coast near Crescent City, California. Plans for the lighthouse were created after the coastal steamer Brother Jonathan sunk in July, 1865. It took 10 years to build the 144 ft. lighthouse, which required enormous slabs of granite to be cut in Humboldt Bay, 60 miles to the south, and transported to the site. It currently stands almost 16 stories above the sea. Five keepers lost their lives on duty, earning it a reputation as the most dangerous lighthouse. In 1996 it had to be transferred to the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society for restoration. A month after being relighted in 2012, the lighthouse received a cease-and-desist order from the California State of Transportation. Maintenance and tourism to the lighthouse by helicopter cannot continue until a suitable heliport is built. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Place in 1993.
These are just three of the amazing lighthouses in the country. The only remaining manned lighthouse is Boston Light on Little Brewster Island, the first to be built on U.S. soil. The rest of the working lighthouses are automated.
Image: Flickr/betancourt licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.