Lights: Historic Images of American Lighthouses
Candace and Mary Louise Clifford
authors of Women Who Kept the Lights: An Illustrated History of Female
Lighthouse Keepers, J. Candace and Mary Louise Clifford, have drawn
together a unique collection of 230 photos and drawings created during
the 1800s. The 304-page book includes narratives about the featured
lighthouses as well as the evolution of lighthouses during the nineteenth
1800 the United States had 26 lighthouses. At the end of the century
that number had increased to over 650. As the country expanded, the
building of new lighthouses followed the nation's shipping interests--down
the Atlantic coast, up the Hudson River and along Lake Champlain, into
the Chesapeake Bay, along the Gulf Coast, around the Great Lakes, and
finally up the entire length of the Pacific coast.
the number of lighthouses grew, the architectural styles of the stations
and the technology that lit them changed. Rubblestone and wood were
supplemented by cut stone and brick. Tall, heavy towers sunk in the
soft sands of the Chesapeake and Gulf Coast gave way to lightweight
offshore screwpiles supporting simple wooden dwellings with a lantern
on the roof.
mid-century, sailing ships were being replaced by steamships; chandeliers
of whale and lard oil lamps in front of reflectors were replaced by
Fresnel lenses that magnified the light. Cast iron was introduced as
a light and movable building material. Fog bells previously rung by
hand were mechanized by clockworks and many later replaced with steam-operated
fog signals. In the 1880s oil lamps gave way to kerosene; oil houses
were added to light stations to protect the volatile fuel. Finally,
the introduction of electricity greatly simplified the keeper's duties.
changes are reflected in the nineteenth century photos collected here.
The tall towers of New England contrast with the screwpiles built on
the Chesapeake Bay. Ice destroyed these and led to the sinking of heavy
caisson bases. Major engineering challenges are illustrated with the
waveswept towers on Minots Ledge, Massachusetts; Spectacle Reef, Michigan;
and St.George Reef, California. Lantern shapes changed to accommodate
the Fresnel lens. Lighthouse architects housed keepers in fortresses,
Stick-style mansions, miniature boxes on offshore ledges, and a dozen
other styles pleasing to the eye.
charm and surprising diversity of lighthouses are captured in these
historic photographs, illuminating an important chapter in our rich
Nineteenth-Century Lights is available from Cypress Communications,
Alexandria, Virginia, in both softcover (ISBN 09636412-3-9, list price
$24.95) and hardcover (ISBN 09636412-2-0, list price $34.95). It is
304 pages, 8 1/2 X 11 trim size, and includes 230 illustrations, endnotes,
bibliography, and index.
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