History of Lighthouses
In early time people set fires at the edge of the water to warn boats of dangerous rocks and shores. The Egyptians were the first people to build lighthouses to use light to guide ships. In Egypt in 283 the Egyptians completed the tallest lighthouse ever built. It guided ships for over 1,500 years and stood 900 feet tall. Lighthouses were also constructed by the Phoenicians, Greeks, and the Romans.
The early lighthouses used wick lamps as a source of light. In the olden times the light beam could only travel a few miles. In 1822 the first modern lighthouse lens was invented by a Frenchman named Augustin Fesnel. He found out how to increase the light by using prisms. In 1841 the Fresnel lens was installed for the first time in a lighthouse.
Lighthouses warn sailors to straighten their position so they don't hit land. They are built on harbors, islands, and beaches. They act as guideposts for ships at night or in a storm. The first lighthouse in England was the Eddystone Rock Lighthouse built on a steep rock in 1698. Since then three more have been built on that location. The first lighthouse in America was the Boston Lighthouse on Brewser Island in Boston Harbor. The lighthouse was first lit in 1716, but was destroyed during the Revolutionary War.
In the past the lighthouse were run by keepers. When fog came up the lighthouse keepers warned ships by lighting the light, ringing bells every hour or shooting cannons. Today most lighthouses have lights that run automatically using electricity.
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