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Biloxi Lighthouse

Nov. 12, 2019
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Biloxi Lighthouse, Biloxi, Mississippi

BILOXI LIGHT

Location: Mississippi Sound
Station Established: 1848
Year Current / Last Tower(s) First Lit: 1848
Operational: Yes
Automated: Yes, 1941?
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: Brick
Construction Materials: Brick encased by cast iron
Tower Shape: Conical
Markings/Pattern: White tower with black balustrade
Relationship to Other Structure: Separate
Original Lens: Fourth Order, 1848; Fifth Order, Fresnel, 1865
Characteristic: Fixed white.
Fog Signal: None

Historical Chronology:

  • 1847: Congress authorized $12,000 for a lighthouse at Biloxi on 3 March 1847.  The Treasury Department let a contract, dated 15 October 1847, to Murray & Hazlehurst to build and iron lighthouse for $6,347.00.  The keeper's house was contracted separately.  The Collector at Mobile purchased the site.
  • 1848: The tower was completed and placed in operation in 1848.  The tower was 45 feet from the base to the lantern room and displayed nine lamps.  The first keeper was Marcellus J. Howard.
  • Miss Mary Reynolds, with a "large family of orphan children" was appointed keeper on 11 April 1854.  She remained in service until the Civil War.  She owed her appointment to Governor Albert Gallatin Brown.
  • 1856: The light was "refitted."
  • 1860: A hurricane swept the coast and destroyed some lighthouses but not the Biloxi light.  Keeper Reynolds reported that she kept the light burning through the storm and "faithfully performed the duties of Light Keeper in storm and sunshine attending it.  I ascended the Tower at and after the last destructive storm when man stood appalled at the danger I encountered."
  • 1861: Local authorities ordered that the light be extinguished on 18 June 1861.
  • The light was repaired and returned to service by 15 November 1866.  At that time the tower was reported to have been painted with coal tar to protect it from rust, not, as has been reported, to mourn the assassination of President Abe Lincoln.
  • 1866: Perry Younghans was appointed keeper on 14 November 1866 but fell ill soon thereafter.  His wife, Maria Younghans, took over and tended the light.  Mr. Younghans died and Maria was appointed keeper on 6 December 1867.
  • 1868: The tower was painted white and almost fell during a hurricane that year.
  • 1880: The old keeper's house was razed and rebuilt.
  • 1893: The seawall was washed away and the tower threatened during a hurricane on 1 October 1893.  The New Orleans Daily Picayune of 21 October 1893 noted that "At Biloxi Mrs. Younghans, the plucky woman who was in charge of the light, kept a light going all through the storm notwithstanding the fact that there were several feet of water in the room where she lived."
  • 1898: A telephone cable was laid by Reese Hutchinson between the Biloxi and Ship Island lighthouses at the start of the Spanish-American War.
  • 1916: The light was again damaged by a hurricane and the wharf and boathouse were destroyed by a storm the following year.
  • 1918: Maria Younghans retired on 31 December 1918 and was replaced by her daughter, Miranda, who remained as keeper until 1929.  The Younghans family had maintained the light for a total of 63 years.  W. B. Thompson took over as keeper.
  • 1927: The station was electrified.
  • 1969: Keeper's house was destroyed by Hurricane Camille.
  • Tower is now owned by the City of Biloxi and is operated as a private aid to navigation.