National Lighthouse Day Date in the current year: August 7, 2024

National Lighthouse Day National Lighthouse Day is celebrated annually on August 7. It was created by the United States Congress in 1989 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of an act that provided for the establishment and maintenance of lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers.

A lighthouse is a structure (typically a tower or a building) that has a system of lamps and lenses for emitting light. Lighthouses serve as beacons for nautical and aerial navigational aid. They mark safe entries to harbors, dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals, reefs and rocks, as well as assist in air navigation.

Lighthouses have a very long history. Before people began to build ports, they used to light fires on hilltops to guide ships into safe harbors. Lighthouses developed from these fires and originally served as entrance markers to ports. One of the first lighthouses known to man was the Lighthouse of Alexandria built by Pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Ptolemaic Egypt.

Lighthouses were used in Europe throughout the Middle Ages and early modern period, but the modern era of lighthouses didn’t begin until the 18th century. The number of lighthouses began to increase at a fast pace due to the development of transatlantic commerce, as well as advancements in structural engineering that allowed to construct large and powerful lighthouses. It was then that the main function of lighthouses changed from indicating harbors to warning navigators about shipping hazards.

Over the past few decades, the number of operational lighthouses has declined significantly due to the introduction of electronic navigational systems that are more effective, as well as much cheaper and easier to maintain. Because of this, many historic lighthouses were demolished or neglected, which has led to the formation of multiple national and international organizations that strive to restore and preserve lighthouses as historic landmarks.

As we’ve already mentioned above, National Lighthouse Day was originally established by the Congress in 1989. However, August 7 was designated as National Lighthouse Day only for that particular year. Since then, activists have been working for the observance to get permanent recognition. Meanwhile, the United States lighthouse community continues to celebrate it semi-officially every year.

National Lighthouse Day is actively promoted by the American Lighthouse Foundation, an organization committed to restoring and preserving American lighthouses and highlighting their role in the history and culture of coastal communities, and other lighthouse organizations across the nation. 

On the occasion of National Lighthouse Day many lighthouses are open to the public and offer guided tours, presentations, cruises and other fun activities that help people learn more about lighthouses and their role in American history. You can observe the holiday by attending one of these events if you can, reading a book or watching a documentary about lighthouses, donating to a lighthouse preservation organization, and spreading the word on social media with the hashtag #NationalLighthouseDay.

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National Lighthouse Day, observances in the United States, American Lighthouse Foundation, lighthouses, American lighthouses