What is the difference between a lighthouse and a light station?

A lighthouse is the tower itself containing the lantern room with the lens that shines its light. A light station (which is usually onshore, but occasionally on offshore islands) is the property containing multiple outbuildings of the "station", as well as the lighthouse tower itself. There were usually separate living quarters (houses), depending on the number of lighthouse keepers and assistants living there. Besides these there would probably be an oil (or fuel) house, a barn, a boathouse, and a fog-signaling building.

Lights with no families living in them, (called "stag lights" in some areas) were usually located on offshore islands or reefs, and inhabited by men only. Their quarters for sleeping, eating, and recreation were located on the various levels of the lighthouse itself. One room was located above the other and a winding staircase connected them. It was pretty confining to have to live in that one building, especially in the days before the invention of the telephone, radio and TV.

Tenders re-supplying lighthouses

They had to stay on the island for a certain period of time before a tender (small boat) came out with supplies and other keepers to relieve them of duty and give them some shore leave. If the weather was too rough for the boat to come out, often they had to stay many extra days or weeks before being taken to shore. In later years helicopters were sometimes used for transportation.
The U.S. Lighthouse Society originally designed this packet to furnish teachers with basic information about lighthouses, their purpose, history, operation and technology in a form presentable to young students. with the society's permission the U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office is posting this modified version with additional photographs and information.

The U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office would like to thank Mr. Wayne Wheeler and the other members of The U.S. Lighthouse Society who produced and distributed the original version of this curriculum.

For more information on lighthouses, teachers and students should contact The U.S. Lighthouse Society, 244 Kearny Street, San Francisco, Ca 94108 or consult the lighthouse web pages on The U.S. Coast Guard Historian's web site.