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Preserving The Lights ...years of reconstruction

Lighthouses have come and gone over the years for a variety of reasons. Some have been worn away by the elements or consumed by storms, others shaken down by earthquakes, and still others have collapsed from erosion. Sadly, many have also been purposely burned to the ground to make room for modern replacements, which usually consist of automated towers that utilize the most current technological navigational aids.

The Great Point Light on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, has a long history of tragic destruction. The original wooden structure was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in stone. But because both the Great Point Light and the nearby Cross Rip lightship utilized fixed-light lenses, confusion between the two lead to frequent shipwrecks in the area during the second half of the 19th century. Red panels were then added to the Great Point Light’s lens to help remedy the shipwreck problem. The Great Point Light endured for many years until it was eventually destroyed again, this time by a storm in the 1980s. A replica of the last version now stands nearby.

Some more creative uses of lighthouses have also been employed to help support their preservation. The Point Montara Lighthouse, on the California coast just south of San Francisco, has been turned into a youth hostel, though the lighthouse is still active. Many others in the U.S. have been converted into bed and breakfast inns, as well.

Next: Learn about the relocation of lighthouses...