Crossing open waters has always been a dangerous undertaking, but drawing close to the destination is the most hazardous part of the sailor's journey. Reaching the right harbor during the night and knowing how to avoid razor-sharp rocks or reefs is a task that can defeat the most experienced navigator--often with fatal results.
Since earliest times the response to these dangers has been to erect a light-bearing tower, a beacon to sailors that could guide them into port safely. Some of these early lighthouses were merely stone towers built on the shore, but others, like the Colossus of Rhodes--a 110-foot (33m) statue of the sun god Helios, built in 282 B.C. in the Mediterranean--became wonders of the ancient world.
Architecturally imposing and cloaked with an air of romance, lighthouses continue to fascinate us. Often there are tales of strange events connected to lonely lighthouses--tragic stories of keepers and ghosts at sea.
Minot's Ledge is one such place. At least forty vessels had run aground off this deadly outcrop just southeast of Boston before construction of a tower began in 1847. It didn't last very long. Four years later, the original lighthouse was toppled by a devastating hurricane that washed its two keepers into the sea. Although Minot's Ledge Light is no longer manned, tales persist of eerie sounds, slamming doors, and apparitions of a man, soaking wet, clinging to a rope outside the new tower! This is a chilling reminder that even the most valiant efforts to prevent tragedy can be in vain.
Leo Marriott's LIGHTHOUSES, illustrated with more than 100 color photographs, takes readers on a historical and international tour of these wonderful structures. It recounts tales of great courage and tragedy, as well as details of why and how the lighthouses were built.
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ashore Bakers Island beacon became began Bishop Rock Breakwater Britain British building burning caisson Canada Cape Hatteras Cape Hatteras light Cape Henry Channel cliffs coast coastlines Colossus Colossus of Rhodes completed construction Cordouan damaged dangerous Eddystone Eddystone lighthouses electric entrance erected famous Farne Islands feet fire Florida foot France Fresnel lens granite Harbor Head headland helicopter Henry installed Ireland Island tower Isle keepers Lake Ontario landing lantern missing later Lawrence River Ledge light source light tower Lighthouse Board Lighthouse of Alexandria lighthouse was built mariners maritime miles nearby nineteenth century North numerous offshore parabolic reflectors Point Lake Point tower port Porto Pisano Range Lights Reef reflectors relocated remains replaced rock lighthouse sailors ships Shoal shore South storm Strait struc structure tallest tower was built trade Trinity House U.S. Lighthouse West Winstanley Wolf Rock Yaquina