Lighthouses of Massachusetts MPS
As Lighthouses of Massachusetts a are under Multiple Property Submission (MPS) all lighthouses ( English lighthouse combined) in the state of Massachusetts of the United States in the National Register of Historic Places are registered (NRHP). Massachusetts, as a US state with a long Atlantic coast, has a large number of lighthouses spread across the counties of Essex , Suffolk , Norfolk , Plymouth , Bristol , Barnstable , Dukes and Nantucket from north to south . Of these, more than 40 were included in the NRHP, which were established in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; this also includes the Boston Light , the oldest lighthouse on the North American continent. The list began on June 15, 1987 with 39 entries and later several other lighthouses were added.
The aim of erecting a lighthouse is always to provide navigation aid to shipping traffic by emitting a light signal when visibility is poor - especially during the night, but also in fog or other bad weather. The beacon is mounted so high that it is not only visible over wave crests , but also a certain distance over the curvature of the earth . On the one hand, the light signal must be precisely positioned to mark danger spots such as reefs, rocky coasts or sandbanks on the approach to a canal or port, and on the other hand, it must be made robust enough to be functional even under the worst environmental conditions. The construction of the lighthouse is therefore just as technically demanding as the construction of the lens.
There were twelve lighthouses across the United States in 1790, most of which were in Massachusetts. The 18th century lighthouses that still exist today include the Boston Light, Brant Point Light , Plymouth Light , Great Point Light and the three lighthouses in Newburyport. It was not until the new federal government of the USA supported the construction of further lighthouses at the end of the 18th century, so that in 1820 there were already 59 and in 1850 almost 300 lighthouses.
Major innovations in lighthouse construction came from Great Britain , which are particularly reflected in the construction of the Eddystone lighthouse . After two previous structures had already fallen victim to storms and floods, in 1759 John Smeaton , the founder of civil engineering , dared to erect a new tower, for which he developed a method to anchor iron rods permanently in the rock .
In Massachusetts, the Minot's Ledge Light and The Graves Light were the first lighthouses to be erected on land to take advantage of the innovations of the Eddystone lighthouse. The lighthouses Borden Flats , Deer Island , Butler Flats , Duxbury Pier and Cleveland Ledge were constructed in a similar way - but in a caisson .
The construction of the Minot's Ledge Light was one of the greatest challenges for the engineers, because the subsoil at the selected location was always covered by water and construction work was only possible in summer when there were only slight waves. In 1849 the first tower was completed, which had an iron fire house and the lighthouse keeper's house was elevated. For its construction, nine holes, each 25.4 cm in diameter and 1.5 m deep, were drilled into which piles were driven, on which the tower was finally built. However, it was destroyed in a storm in April 1851, so that construction work began again in 1855, which could be completed in 1859. The lighthouse, which consists of large granite blocks delivered by ship, is still in active use today and represents a remarkable technological achievement for this time.
The light sources used in the United States in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were significantly less developed than the Argand lamps common in Europe . The lamps referred to as spider lamps essentially consisted of an oil pan with four wicks, which was first used in the Boston Light in 1790 . Despite their dangerous fumes attacking the lighthouse keeper's eyes, they were used as a source of light until 1812 when the first mirror lamps reached Massachusetts and were installed in the Newburyport Twin Towers in 1809. Despite their reliability and brightness, their potential was recognized late. Since the cost of re-equipping all lighthouses in the USA was simply too expensive, the Lewis lamp remained the dominant light source in lighthouses in the United States until well after the invention of the superior Fresnel lens .
The first Fresnel lens was imported to the United States in 1841 and installed in the Navesink Twin Lights in New Jersey . In 1853 there were only five lenses of this type in the entire United States, which included the Sankaty Head Light , but by 1859 almost all lighthouses in the United States were equipped with Fresnel lenses. This type of lens was so successful that it could only be improved slightly and some of it is still in use today - albeit automated and electrified; The Boston Light , for example, has a 2nd order Fresnel lens.
The history of Massachusetts has always been closely connected to the ocean, which served primarily as a trade route and source of food, but - especially near the coast - also brought various dangers in the form of storms and fog banks. Lighthouses with fog bells and fog horns were therefore the most important prerequisite for the development and maintenance of a large-scale maritime economy.
Massachusetts was the first point of arrival for ships from Europe since the early days of colonial history and on this basis developed into the largest trading center on the entire colonial east coast. An important sea route ran from the southern colonies through Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound, past Provincetown to Boston . There were only a few small harbors between the two endpoints that could be used as refuge, and ships on the water often waited for weeks for a favorable westerly wind.
To mark particularly dangerous places, wooden towers were erected on which pitch was burned as early as the 17th century . The Boston Light and Brant Point Light were the first two lighthouses officially built by the colonial government and approved by the Massachusetts General Court . Initially, the communities on whose territory the towers were erected were responsible for operation.
These first two lighthouses marked danger spots on the lucrative route to the West Indies , where goods such as fish, salt, wood and meat were mainly exchanged for molasses , which was distilled into rum in many coastal cities - including Boston and Newburyport . The American Revolutionary War interrupted this trade route, but had only a marginal impact on the general volume of ships and did not reduce the colony's dependence on the ocean. Therefore, lighthouses were still very important for the safety of shipping, so that the newly organized federal government of the United States greatly increased the number of these beacons and also had less busy sea routes marked.
After the Treasury Department had previously been responsible for the lighthouses, responsibility for the US lighthouses was reorganized in 1852 and a Lighthouse Board was established, which fulfilled this task for 58 years. It consisted of two naval officers, two US Army engineers, and two civilians, chaired by the United States Secretary of the Treasury. The committee divided the coast of the United States into twelve lighthouse districts, each with an army or naval officer assigned as inspector. The inspectors' first report on the condition of the lighthouses was 760 pages long and found, among other things, that the most successful lighthouses were equipped with a Fresnel lens. Only five of these lenses had been imported into the United States by then, and in Massachusetts only the Sankaty Head Light was equipped with them.
Over the next decade, more Fresnel lenses were installed and experiments with alternative fuels were conducted. In addition, steam-powered fog horns and bell buoys were developed and the first lighthouse was built on the Pacific coast. At this time, the industrial production of prefabricated cast iron lighthouses began, so that the number of lighthouses in the USA could be increased from 297 in 1850 to 661 in 1880. Instead of civilian lighthouse keepers, members of the armed forces were increasingly trained who were only responsible for one lighthouse for a certain period of time and were then transferred to another. In addition, an annually updated list of lighthouses and buoys was introduced to make it easier for the ship's crews to identify the navigation aids. In the early 20th century, the US system of navigational aids for ships was a world leader, but caused 1,916 maintenance of the now more than 12,000 lighthouses and buoys and 51 lightships and the salaries of nearly 1,800 lighthouse keeper expenditure of about 5 million US dollars (approximately $ 119,940,000 today).
In order to cope with the increased requirements, the Lighthouse Board was transferred from the Treasury Department to the United States Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903 and renamed the Bureau of Lighthouses ( German Office for Lighthouses ) in 1910 , which was headed by George R. Putnam. In 1924, with almost 16,900 navigation aids, the system was the largest in the world and benefited primarily from electrification and automation in terms of cost - in 1937 even the most remote lighthouses were equipped with electricity.
In 1939 the office had more than 5,000 employees (including 1,170 lighthouse keepers) and was responsible for 29,606 navigation aids. In the same year the office was closed and its responsibilities transferred to the United States Coast Guard , which continues to fulfill these duties to this day.
On June 15, 1987, 39 Massachusetts lighthouses were registered in the NRHP. The list was expanded several times in the following years, so that it currently includes 43 entries.
List of NRHP registered lighthouses in Massachusetts
Formerly NRHP registered lighthouses in Massachusetts
April 28, 1982 |
ID No. 82005272
||Removed from the register in 1986.|
- Sarah J. Zimmerman, Candice Jenkins, Anne Tait, Leslie Fox, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Boudreau: National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form. ( PDF ) National Park Service , April 30, 1987, accessed October 6, 2016 .
- cf. Zimmerman et al., P. 3.
- cf. Zimmerman et al., P. 8.
- cf. Zimmerman et al., P. 4.
- cf. Zimmerman et al., P. 5.
- cf. Zimmerman et al., P. 6.
- cf. Zimmerman et al., P. 20.
- cf. Zimmerman et al., P. 21.
- cf. Zimmerman et al., P. 23.
- cf. Zimmerman et al., P. 24.
- The numbering in this list column is based on the order of the entries presented by the National Park Service ; the colors distinguish different types of protected areas of the National Park System with national significance (e.g. National Historic Landmarks ) from the other entries in the National Register of Historic Places .
- National Register Information System . In: National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service . Retrieved November 2, 2013.