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40th Anniversary, National Historic Preservation Act TitleImage of Gull Rock Light Station and its small island

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Preserving Our Heritage

“The lighthouse and lightship appeal to the interests and better instinct of man because they are symbolic of never-ceasing watchfulness, of steadfast endurance in every exposure, of widespread helpfulness. The building and keeping of the lights is a picturesque and humanitarian work of the nation.”

-- George Putnam, Commissioner of Lighthouses, 1910-1935

Image of Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station turret with a red roof and stone base

From the nation’s earliest days, transporting people and goods often meant undertaking long, treacherous voyages. Lighthouses helped make those trips safer, marking hazards and offering a comforting, guiding light for those who took to the sea.

Even though technology has provided other ways to enhance safety on the water, lighthouses are just as popular today as they were two centuries ago. Whether it’s the beckoning light, the winding stairs to the lantern room, the romance of the sea, or the precarious perch overlooking (or even in) the water, people love lighthouses.

Lighthouses are honored symbols of our past. Their preservation is a priority of our present.

The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act authorizes the transfer of lights to those who qualify and are committed to their preservation and protection. In addition, new owners must make the light stations available for education, park, recreation, cultural, or historic preservation uses. The National Park Service, acting on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior has identified new owners for more than two dozen historic light stations.

Learn more about two of these lights – Gull Rock Light Station in Michigan and Turkey Point Light Station in Maryland.

The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act Program was authorized in 2000 by an amendment to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

Fast Facts:

  • 300 historic light stations are expected to be made available through the lighthouse program over the next decade.
  • As of April 2006, new owners have been selected for 30 historic light stations.
  • More than 35 historic light stations are within the boundaries of national parks.
Gull Rock Light Station image
Turkey Point Light Station image

Turkey Point Light Station

Image of the Navesink Light station

Did You Know?
In 1899, Guglielmo Marconi placed an antenna and receiving station at the Navesink Light Station to demonstrate his wireless telegraph relaying information on the America's Cup yacht races being held off the tip of Sandy Hook, New Jersey.