- Fresnel lenses, with their carefully manufactured prism systems, began
to be installed in American lighthouses in the 1840s. They were equipped with
oil-burning lamps until electricity came into use. Many lights today are solar
- Thomas Point Shoal lighthouse was activated in November, 1875, and a succession
of hardy keepers kept its light burning for more than a century. The light
was automated in 1986.
- The living quarters of screwpile lighthouses were not as roomy as many
land-based keeper’s cottages, but could be fairly comfortable nonetheless.
Living space included a bedroom, a day room, a small kitchen and a privy that
originally was cantilevered over the side of the wooden cottage.
- Many screwpile lighthouses featured a hexagonal wooden keeper’s cottage
with a cantilevered deck, but other designs—such as square, rectangular
or cylindrical shapes—were also built.
- A typical screwpile lighthouse had one and a half stories of living and
mechanical space, topped by a lantern gallery that was accessed by a wooden
ship’s ladder. The second story rooms included space for water tanks,
the fog signal mechanism, and a variety of other equipment.
- Hexagonal screwpile lighthouses were built upon a central pile surrounded
by six or eight perimeter cast-iron piles. Set on this foundation were beams
to support the keeper’s quarters. Numerous girders and diagonally placed
iron “ropes” reinforced the assembly and added stability.
- Fuel, and even livestock such as cows and chickens, could be kept close
at hand on a platform below the keeper’s cottage.