Pat Shingleton: "A Beacon in the Storm..."
Louisiana boasts 14 lighthouses having the oldest dating back to 1839. August 3rd is the anniversary in 1789 when the First Congress federalized existing lighthouses. Built by the colonists, funds were appropriated for lighthouses, beacons and buoys. As noted in a previous column, the lighthouse safely directed ships through episodes of fog and storms. Sound was used to guide ships and in colonial times, cannons, fired from shore, warned ships away from foggy coastlines. A fog bell was first used in 1852, a mechanical bell in 1869, a fog trumpet in 1872 and an air siren in 1887. Members of the Lighthouse Service maintained the lights, often performing their duties in extreme hardship. On August 7, 1939, the administration of the lighthouses was transferred to the Coast Guard.