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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VOLUNTEER FOR VICTORY

A House on the Water: 1895

A House on the Water: 1895

"Minot's Ledge Lighthouse, Boston, c. 1890-1899." A good design for those vacation home owners (and lighthouse keepers) averse to weekend guests or pizza circulars on the doorstep. Detroit Publishing Co. glass negative. View full size.

 

Two sets of Texas

I should have caught this two years ago, but...

There were also six "Texas tower" lighthouses, all on the east coast. Two were run over by ships; the only survivor is Chesapeake Light at the mouth of the bay.

Texas Towers

Just a clarification: The Texas Towers were not lighthouses, but early warning radar stations built by the air force in the 50's. There were three of them, the most famous being the one off the NJ coast which was destroyed and sunk in a storm in 1961. The wreckage of Texas Tower is a fishing hotspot, attracting many species.

I love "Three Skeleton Key"!

I never read the story but I HAVE heard the radio shows. In addition to being a Zorrophile, I love old-time radio. Is there any way to connect with the people who comment on this site? like a message board or something? that one pic CGW submitted of the lighthouse with the waves crashing is simply amazing, too. Thank you, Shorpy Higginbotham, for without you, where would this world be?

[Registered users who are logged in can contact any other registered user by clicking on the person's username, then clicking the "contact" tab. - Dave]

The Lighthouse

A detailed account of this light's construction and operation. It's still standing, but has been operated automatically since the late 40's, and run on solar power since 1983.

Amazing

What intrigues me most of these pictures is the ingenuity and sheer determination it must have taken to build those structures in small rock outcrops only exposed during low tide. Must have been some really grueling working conditions, particularly because, given the place and the time, I assume the most they could have used were some steam cranes to lift the blocks, mounted on barges or something like that; must have been a very labor-intensive proposition.

And still, the value of those structures go beyond the risk and the costs of their construction. I wonder if this lighthouse still exists, and if it still operates, what it uses as energy source: its own batteries? or a gasoline-powered generator?

As always, an amazing and thought-inducing photo, thanks for sharing!

Three Skeleton Key

I love how there's a boat at the very top, probably 50 feet above the current waterline. I can't quite figure out how you'd get it down to sea level, 50 feet below--must be nervewracking!!

Anybody ever read the story "Three Skeleton Key", about a lighthouse and a ship full of rats? It was dramatized on radio several times in the 40s and 50s, on "Escape" and "Suspense", once starring Vincent Price. You'll never look at lighthouses the same way again after hearing that one ...

Try and talk the moving company...

...into hauling your king size mattress and your upright piano up THAT front steps!

Best Yet

Thanks to Bob A and CGW, and you of course, this is enough to make me give up sailing. What courage it must have taken to live and work under these conditions.

Minot's Ledge

More here.

And if you REALLY want to chase them away...

... show them this one:

This is one of the most exposed lighthouses in the US (besides the "Texas Towers", which are almost all gone now) and I believe the only one built using the interlocking open water technology used for the Eddystone Light (most such US lights used caissons).

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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