On a foggy day, when you hear a whale snoring,
It is probably a foghorn blaring,
Beware! you are reaching the shore,
When the fog fades away, you will get the lights galore.
What is a lighthouse? Is it a part of a light show? Or a different kind of traffic light? Well, it is like a giant signpost standing tall in the sea. It sends out signals to the nearby ships announcing that shore rocks are near, and they should get ready to dock. It also helps in the navigation.
Long time ago, more years than you can count, sailors used landmarks for navigation. Glowing volcanoes were a sailors best friend, but unfortunately they were not on every sea route. In England, tall trees were planted to warn the seafarers, but did not help at night. Then someone in ancient Alexandria, Egypt got a brilliant idea. He suggested piling up stones up on the hill until they are high enough to reach the sky. A white marble tower was built as tall as 450 ft. They lit a bright fire atop. It was like a sunrise at night. The tower had 300 rooms for the slaves and the lighthouse keepers. It was called the Pharos of Alexandria. The ships were no longer crashing into the rocks. They knew that the harbor was near, and they had to steer. This structure helped the sailors for 1500 years before an earthquake destroyed it.
Pharos is a Greek word for a lighthouse, and that is why the people who study (or are interested in) lighthouses are called pharologists.
For the light wood was burned at first. Slowly, people realized that oil lamps work better, and their light could be seen from a far distance. In 1822, a Frenchman named Augustin Fesnel invented a way to increase the light. After 19 years, the Fresnel lens was installed for the first time in a lighthouse. These days, bright electric lights, are used in a modern lighthouse.
In today’s age, the lighthouses are run by machines and remote monitoring. The automatic sensors decide if there is extra moisture in the air, and if so turn on the fog signals. Radio signals are used to communicate with the ships. But when the technology was not so advanced the lighthouses were run by their keepers. The lighthouse keepers were men and women that worked tirelessly to keep the light burning. There are many great stories about the bravery of these people.
Did you know that rivers and lakes also have lighthouses?
Some famous Lighthouses –
Tallest Lighthouse: Jeddah Light, Saudi Arabia(436ft.)
Unusual Lighthouse : Surselva region of canton Graubünden, Switzerland is an unusual lighthouse in the snow.
A beacon not just to emigrants and travelers, the Statue of Liberty was actually a lighthouse for entrance to the inner harbor of New York and warned ships away from the rocky shoals of the western harbor.