The first navigational lights in the New World were probably lanterns hung at harbor entrances. The first lighthouse was put up by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1716 on Little Brewster Island at the entrance to Boston Harbor. Paid for and maintained by "light dues" levied on ships, the original beacon was blown up in 1776. By then there were only a dozen or so true lighthouses in the colonies. Little over a century later, there were 700 lighthouses. The first light erected on the West Coast in the 1850’s featured the same basic New England design: a Cape Cod dwelling with the tower rising from the center or standing close by. In New England and elsewhere, though, lighthouses reflected a variety of architectural styles. Since most stations in the Northeast were built on rocky eminences, enormous towers were not the rule. Some were made of stone and brick, others of wood or metal. Some stood on pilings or stilts; some were fastened to rock with iron rods. Farther south, from Maryland through the Florida Keys, the coast was low and sandy. It was often necessary to build tall towers there - massive structures like the majestic Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, lighthouse, which was lit in 1870. At 190 feet, it is the tallest brick lighthouse in the country. Notwithstanding differences in appearance and construction, most American lighthouses shared several features: a light, living quarters and sometimes a bell (or later, a foghorn).They also had something else in common: a keeper and, usually, the keeper’s family. The keeper’s essential task was trimming the lantern wick in order to maintain a steady,bright flame. The earliest keepers came from every walk of life -they were seamen,farmers, mechanics, rough mill hands - and appointments were often handed out by local customs commissioners as political plums. After the administration of lighthouses was taken over in 1852 by the United States Lighthouse Board, an agency of the Treasury Department,the keeper corps gradually became highly professional.
在新大陆上,最初的航标灯要算那些挂在港湾入口的提灯了吧。 最初的灯塔是1716 年由马萨诸塞湾殖民地在波士顿港入口一个叫小布罗斯特的岛上建起的。 这最初的灯塔是通过向船只征收"买光钱"来维持运作的,于 1776 年被炸毁。 那时,在各殖民地,真正的灯塔仅有十几个。 但过了一个世纪多一点,灯塔就增至七百多个了。 1850年,在西部沿海建起的首座灯塔基本上沿袭了新英格兰灯塔的设计方案,即那种中心或周围升起塔楼的典型的哥德角式房子。 新英格兰与其它一些地方的灯塔在建筑风格上是多样化的。 在东北部,灯塔大都建在石质的高地上,因此塔身不需要太高。 它们有砖石结构的; 也有木材或金属结构的,有的灯塔建在支架上,有的则用铁条固定在岩石上。 在更南方的地区,从马里兰到弗罗里达礁群的海岸地势低平且多为沙质,因此高大的塔身就很必要了。 例如 1870年在北卡罗来纳的哈特拉角建的宏伟的大灯塔,高达 190 英尺,是全美最高的砖结构灯塔。 虽然美国的灯塔在外观和结构上存在一些差异,但它们确有些共同之处,比如都有灯标、有住房、有时还有钟(后来改用雾角)。 此外,还有一个相同之处,那就是都有守塔人,通常是守塔人全家。 守塔人的基本工作就是修剪灯蕊,以便火焰明亮而稳定。 最早的守塔人来 自各种行业:海员、农民、技工和干粗活的。 这个职位通常是作为政治回报由地方海关官员决定任命。 但在 1852 年后,财政部下属的美国灯塔管理委员会接管了所有灯塔,守塔人这支队伍也逐渐趋向专业化了。