Monday is National Lighthouse Day, which aims to recall a 300-year era of manned lighthouse stations nationwide and efforts to restore and return old lighthouses to the public domain.
The Biloxi Lighthouse has been a beacon on the Mississippi Coast for 169 years, since 1848. But how much do you really know about the lighthouse?
▪ The lighthouse is 64 feet tall. It was 45 feet from base to lantern room when it was built, and was one of the South’s first cast-iron lighthouses.
▪ It is the only lighthouse in the nation that sits between four lanes of highway traffic. It’s on U.S. 90, also known as Beach Boulevard.
▪ The lighthouse was civilian operated for 91 years, until 1939. It had several female lightkeepers, including Maria Younghans, who worked the lights for 53 years, according to the City of Biloxi. The U.S. Coast Guard later assumed light operations.
▪ The lighthouse was declared surplus property in 1968 and deeded to the City of Biloxi, which later opened the lighthouse for public tours.
▪ The lighthouse has withstood storms including Hurricanes Camille and Katrina. The latter, in August 2005, broke windows in the light cupola and destroyed its electrical system. Biloxi re-opened the lighthouse to the public for tours in March 2010 after a 14-month, $400,000 restoration project funded by FEMA and MEMA.
The Biloxi Lighthouse isn’t the only one still standing on the Mississippi Coast.
The Round Island Lighthouse, toppled for the last time by Katrina, was moved to the base of the U.S. 90 high-rise in November 2015 and opened for public tours last year.
The Jones Park Lighthouse in Gulfport is a replica of the old Ship Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in time for the park’s opening in 2012.
A lighthouse still stands at the old Broadwater Marina, across from the legendary Broadwater Hotel on land and the former location of the President Casino.