Little Bits of History

I Love You Lighthouse

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 29, 2010

Minot's Ledge lighthouse

June 29, 1860: The last stone is laid for the new Minot’s Ledge lighthouse near Scituate, Massachusetts. This was a replacement for the first lighthouse built between 1847 and 1850. The earlier structure was a beacon braced above metal framework and was the first lighthouse built in the US. Between the years 1832 and 1841, over 40 vessels were lost due to the rocky ledge hiding beneath the waves. Damages over the years totaled over $360,000.

The first lighthouse cost $39,000 and began operation on January 1, 1850. The lighthouse is 1 nautical mile offshore. The first operator quit after ten months because he felt unsafe as the waves crashed into the insubstantial base. His replacement also felt unsafe, but the architect maintained that the lighthouse was indeed safe, citing that it had weathered winters’ storms already. Three months later, in April 1851, a huge storm struck the New England coast and turned Boston into an island due to flooding. It also toppled the lighthouse, with two people perishing. All that survived were a few bent pilings.

Construction of an all stone lighthouse began on July 9, 1857. The total cost of this new construction was $300,000 – the most expensive lighthouse at the time, and still one of the costliest today. The building consists of 1,079 blocks of Quincy granite that are reinforced with iron shafts. It is 114 feet high. The light was first lit on August 22, 1860.

The lighthouse was automated in 1947. The tower has a unique pattern of light in a sequence of 1-4-3. Someone decided that must be the number of letters it stood for hence the lighthouse is sometimes given that nickname “I Love You”.

“He that will learn to pray let him go to Sea.” – George Herbert

“There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath.” – Herman Melville

“No man will be a sailor, who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.” – Samuel Johnson

“A fallen lighthouse is more dangerous than a reef.” – proverb

Also on this day, in 1888 the oldest wax cylinder recording (still in existance) was made.