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Fascinating Facts about Lighthouses Scramble Squares®
For many centuries, lighthouses have aided navigation by warning mariners of coastal hazards and by guiding ships to port. Having become in the 20th Century more picturesque and romantic architectural exclamation marks to nature’s awesome beauty and power than navigational necessities, often on desolate coasts, lighthouses are now cultural symbols of solitude, the rugged seafaring life and of technological development.

The world’s first lighthouse, The Pharos of Alexandria, Egypt, was built by Sostratus for the Macedonian ruler Ptolemy in the 3rd Century BC and at 450 feet high, topped by a container of fire for light, was one of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World. After guiding mariners for more than 1,500 years, The Pharos of Alexandria was finally destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th Century. Although there is no evidence that another of the Seven Wonders, the Colossus of Rhodes, was intended as a lighthouse, myths persist that this enormous statue in Ancient Greece at the time of the Roman Empire held a cauldron of fire aloft in the palm of one hand and had fires blazing from both of its eyes.

In 1812, Winslow Lewis demonstrated his patented Argand lamp and parabolic reflector at the Boston Harbor Lighthouse for U.S. government officials, and at the urging of Boston Customs Collector Henry Dearborn and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin, Congress provided $60,000 for the purchase of Lewis’ patent, the installation of the Argand light in all U.S. lighthouses and the maintenance of these lights for seven years. Lewis installed his Argand lamp in all but nine lighthouses before the British invasion of the War of 1812 and finished the remaining installations in 1815. According to lighthouse historians and his own nephew, Lewis had, in fact, copied his “invention” from the system in use at the South Stack Lighthouse in England, a system which had been abandoned by all other British lighthouses. In 1852 the newly established United States Lighthouse Board chose the Fresnel light, developed in 1822 by Frenchman Augustin Jean Fresnel, for United States lighthouses, and the Secretary of the Treasury ordered the installation of Fresnel lenses in all U.S. lighthouses. By the outbreak of the American Civil War, these installations had been completed.

Lighthouse “keepers” have tended lighthouses for the past 2,000 years. Ida Lewis, keeper of the Lime Rock Lighthouse in Rhode Island, became a 19th Century hero for her many rescues and was celebrated with visits by Ulysses S. Grant and Admiral Dewey. Technology has finally replaced the often lonely and dangerous life of the lighthouse keeper. Most lighthouses today are fully automated, many operating self sufficiently on solar power.

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Tel: (310) 374-3000 · Fax: (310) 318-6692 · E Mail: info@b-dazzle.com
 

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