National Geographic : 1913 Jan
$Ixv ~i Zalb, i:"L;* %.p ~- : : b~ltrt:rP::;t e, b"tr-8 ~r;l~: : - 1 r 6oil~rlisa~ ~ * Bbe ij8brrbr!albb~b ~sitde, LIGHTHOUSES OF ANCIENT TIMES, AS PICTURED ON ROMAN MEDALS A lighthouse is mentioned as early as 660 B. C.; the Pharos, at Alexandria, built about 260 B. C., was one of the "seven wonders" of the world, and is estimated to have been about 400 feet high. The annual maintenance cost of the entire service is close to $5,000,000, and in addition in recent years there has been expended about $I,ooo,ooo a year on new lighthouse works and vessels. This service is supported by appropriations out of the general revenues, and no spe cial light taxes are collected from ship ping, as is customary in other countries. At all important light stations there are from two to five keepers, who main tain a continuous watch of the light at night and of the approach of fog at all times. At less important stations there is but one keeper, or sometimes a single keeper cares for several neighboring lights. The average pay of keepers is less than $600 per year, but they receive also a ration allowance and usually quar ters and fuel. The maximum salary at difficult offshore stations is $1,oo8. For the care of a post light along the rivers about $Io a month is paid, but this re quires only a small amount of work each day. At the general lighthouse depot on Staten Island, New York harbor, shops are maintained for the repair and manu facture of special lighthouse apparatus. This is also a general supply station for the service, supplies and equipment being purchased and tested and experimental and designing work being carried on. Many of the lighthouse vessels are over hauled or outfitted here. There are em- ployed in this depot and offices 253 per persons (see page 2). Light stations and vessels are inspected four times a year, and the districts and offices are themselves inspected from time to time by a general inspector and a traveling auditor. An accurate cost keeping system has recently been introduced for the entire lighthouse service, so that at the end of the year the principal items of cost for each feature can readily be ascertained and compared. The following are aver age annual costs of operating various features of the service: Large lighthouse tender, $40,500; light vessel on exposed station, $15,300; important light station, with fog signal, $4,200; same without fog signal, $3,000; river-post light, $90; gas buoy, $Ioo to $300, according to size and type. FAITHFUL LIGHT-KEEPERS Although the pay is small and the life often lonely, the work attracts as a rule an excellent class of faithful men, willing to take large risks in doing their duty and also in helping those in distress. There are many cases of faithful service and bravery, of which the following are a few instances: The hurricane of September, 1906, did serious damage to lighthouse property along the Gulf coast and a number of lives were lost at Sand Island and at U * haufe, t''-e ; ''