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Architectural rendering of Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, completed in 1868 (National Archives).
Onshore Lighthouse Construction Types--Cast-Iron Plate

Cast iron was lighter than stone or brick, relatively inexpensive, capable of being shaped, watertight, and had a slow rate of deterioration. The first cast-iron lighthouse was an octagonal tower built in 1803 at Swansea, S.Wales, U.K. The first cast-iron lighthouse in the New World was designed by Alexander Gorden, built in England and erected in Jamaica in 1840. The United States was quick to follow Gorden's concept when in 1844 it built a cast-iron tower on Long Island Head, Boston Harbor (this tower was replaced by another cast-iron tower in 1881 and a brick tower in 1900).

Cast-iron plates were prefabricated offsite, numbered, and easily assembled into towers on site. The cast-iron plates were either segments of a cone or a flat surface, depending on the design chosen. The plates have flanges on all four sides which were fastened together by bolts. The interior of the tower was often lined with brick for added stability and insulation. In areas where shifting and eroding beaches were present, cast-iron-plate towers were designed so they could be disassembled and re-erected as needed. Cape Canaveral Lighthouse (1868), Florida, (at right) and Hunting Island Lighthouse (1875), South Carolina, are examples of this design; both having been successfully moved.

The following cast-iron towers survive:

JUNIPER ISLAND LIGHT (OLD), VT (1846)
BILOXI LIGHT, MS (1848)
MONOMOY POINT LIGHT, MA (1849)
MATAGORDA ISLAND LIGHT, TX (1852)
PASS A L'OUTRE LIGHT, LA (1855)
BIG SABLE POINT (GRAND POINT AU SABLE) LIGHT, MI (1867)
CAPE MENDOCINO LIGHT (OLD), CA (1868)
CAPE CANAVERAL LIGHT, FL (1868)
POINT REYES LIGHT, CA (1870)
FORT PICKERING (WINTER ISLAND) LIGHT, MA (1871)
POINT BOLIVAR LIGHT, TX (1873)
CAPE ELIZABETH LIGHTS, ME (1874)
EDGARTOWN HARBOR LIGHT, MA (1875)
HUNTING ISLAND LIGHT, SC (1875)
LITTLE RIVER LIGHT, ME (1876)
NOBSKA POINT LIGHT, MA (1876)
RACE POINT LIGHT, MA (1876)
CHATHAM LIGHT, MA (1877)
EAST CHOP (TELEGRAPH HILL) LIGHT, MA (1877)
NAUSET LIGHT, MA (1877)
PORTSMOUTH HARBOR LIGHT, NH (1877)
CAPE NEDDICK "THE NUBBLE" LIGHT, ME (1879)
STAGE HARBOR LIGHT, MA (1880)
CAPE HENRY LIGHT (SECOND TOWER) (1881)
STRATFORD POINT LIGHT, CT (1881)
TEN POUND ISLAND LIGHT, MA (1881)
ISLE LA MOTTE LIGHT (OLD), VT (1881)
ROCK ISLAND LIGHT, NY (1882)
CROSSOVER ISLAND LIGHT, NY (1882)
SUNKEN ROCK, NY (1884)
NORTH POINT (MILWAUKEE) LIGHT, WI (1888)
WARWICK LIGHT, RI (1932)



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Last Modified: Wed, Dec 4 2002 12:15:48 pm EDT
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