On August 7, 1989, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the first National Lighthouse Day in commemoration of the bicentennial date of the founding of the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1789. Although only an official national holiday for that year, National Lighthouse Day continues to be celebrated on August 7 by aficionados and lighthouse organizations around the country.
It’s a great way to commemorate an important part of America’s rich maritime history and the first public works program undertaken by the newly formed United States government. Historic lighthouses—and the stalwart folks who tended and maintained them—protected our coastlines and guided our sailors to safety for centuries.
Lighthouse groups all along the coast offer public tours, museums, and presentations for those interested in learning more about this important national resource and heritage:
- Mass Audubon’s Eastern Point and Straitsmouth Island wildlife sanctuaries offer fantastic opportunities to visit historic lighthouses, though the latter is only accessible via kayak in-season.
- Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary offers guided kayak tours of Sandy Point Lighthouse and Barnstable Harbor starting in September.
- Go to Visit-Massachusetts.com to find lighthouses and upcoming programs outside the Mass Audubon network.
Even simpler to enjoy, here are five gorgeous photos of lighthouses from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Submit your own photographs of the beautiful nature and scenery of Massachusetts today!