Lighthouse

November 24, 2012 9:56 am

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Lighthouses
Lighthouses are tall buildings near seacoasts. They shine flashing lights at night or in foggy weather. These lights guide ships that sail close to the coast. Many lighthouses also have foghorns to guide ships in foggy weather.
Lighthouses are built at places on a coast that are important to ships. They warn ships of hard-to-see dangers such as rocks or strong currents. They also mark entrances to harbors or rivers. Most lighthouses are painted white so that they can be seen easily during the day.
WHEN WERE LIGHTHOUSES FIRST BUILT?
Lighthouses have been protecting sailors for thousands of years. Lighthouses were built on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea at least as long as 2,600 years ago. One of the so-called Seven Wonders of the World was an enormous lighthouse called the Pharos, built at Alexandria in Egypt. Ancient lighthouses were simple structures. Fires burned on top of them as signals to ships.
LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS
Until fairly recently, many lighthouses had lighthouse keepers living in them. The job of the lighthouse keeper was to make sure the lights were kept in working order at all times. Sometimes the lighthouse keeper’s family lived in the lighthouse, too. It was lonely living in a lighthouse in an out-of-the-way place. The lighthouse keepers might not see any other people for weeks.
These days, lighthouse keepers are no longer needed. The lighthouses work automatically.
LIGHTING A LIGHTHOUSE
Lighthouses of the past were lit by burning coal or wood. In the late 1700s and 1800s, oil lamps became popular. Many lighthouses burned whale oil, especially lighthouses in the United States. In the late 1800s, lighthouses began to burn gas in their lamps. Lighthouse keepers were needed to keep fires burning and clean up soot the fires created.
Today, most lighthouses use high-power electric lights that rotate. Reflecting mirrors and lenses make the light beam stronger. The lights work much like the lamp on top of a police car, but they are much bigger and more powerful.

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