Lighthouses: Beacons of the Sea
26 Jul 2013
Lighthouses have been used for centuries to aid in navigation, warning sailors of dangerous coastlines, shoals and reefs. They are the beacons of the sea that have, for the most part, been replaced by electronic navigational instruments. However, many lighthouses are still in operation and their lights shine bright through stormy seas and dangerous waters, their warm glow a signal of safety along the maritime path.
The lighthouses that line the coasts across the world stand tall and elicit a sense of safety, watching over the sea with a fearless strength. Many have been threatened by the eroding shorelines about which they serve to warn sailors.
One such lighthouse is the Cape Hatteras light on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Standing 208 feet all, the Cape Hatteras light is the tallest in North America.
The Cape Hatteras light was constructed in 1802 to warn sailors of one of the most dangerous coastal areas, Diamond Shoals. This is an area of shallow sandbars that extends about 14 miles out into the ocean at Cape Hatteras. This area is dotted with vessels that line the ocean floor and is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
During the Civil War, the lens and lantern of the light were destroyed. A new tower was constructed in 1870. In 1999 the 6,250-ton structure was moved to a new location, just 2,870 feet inland, to save it from tumbling into the ocean.
Lighthouses are the subject of much lore and legend. They remain a constant reminder of the treacherous seas and the sailors the lights protect. Though modern technology has taken navigation into a new realm, the lighthouse remains a prominent symbol of guardianship and as beacon of safe passage.
There is just something very special about lighthouses. The distinctive shape, reaching high into the sky; the lenses that rotate and shine out to sea for miles; the markings that grace their surfaces to distinguish them; but most of all, it is the safety they represent.
Next time you're in the area of a lighthouse, look up and take it in. These structures are landmarks to maritime history and have stories to tell.