Lighthouses & Ships

Important Aspect

What is the most important aspect of the lighthouse?



Of course it is the light that shines out from the lantern room at the top which encloses and protects the lens. This lantern room is made of metal and glass that is divided into sections by pieces called astragals. Usually they are vertical (up and down), but some are diagonal.

Vertical astragals
Diagonal astragals


In this world, at every period in history, there have always been some people who did not want to work for a living, and tried to live off the sweat and toil of other people. During the last century there were men along certain of our Eastern shores who would lure ships to an isolated beach by shining lights to make the sailors think it was a safe harbor. When the ship ran aground and the cargo washed ashore, they stole it and sold the goods. They were called "mooncussers" because they operated on nights when the moon was not shining. Another name for them was "wreckers."

The false lights were called "Judas lights." At one place in North Carolina, they tied a lantern around a horse?s neck and walked him back and forth along the beach to lure ships in to their destruction. That is how the place called "Nag?s Head" got its name.
 
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.