Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
Hi-ho! I'm Inspector Collector, helping to guide ships safely into our harbors. I'm visiting a lighthouse, a tower that shines a light out to sea. There's a lighthouse on the new Maine quarter that comes out this month. Guess why it's there!
No, Maine doesn't have more lighthouses than any other state. But it does have most of the oldest ones. Of its dozens of lighthouses, most of them were first built before the Civil War. Many were rebuilt or remodeled, and most are still active, though some are no longer needed.
Since the great advances in making machinery and electricity in the 20th century, most lighthouses are "automated" now. That means they don't need to have people live in them to keep them going every night because their light goes on automatically. If a bulb burns out, a backup bulb automatically replaces it, so the bulbs only need to be replaced once a year.
America has lighthouses all over our coasts, including the coasts of the Great Lakes. And who takes care of all those lighthouses? Well, the Coast Guard took over the upkeep of our nation's lighthouses in 1937, but ownership of some of them has been turned over to towns. Most lighthouses are supported by local groups that raise money to fix them up and keep them working.
And do you know what else is special about lighthouses in Maine in the month of June? The third week in June is Lighthouse Week in Maine! Maine's governor passed this law in 2001 so that Mainers can think about the important part lighthouses have played in Maine's history and how important it is to work together to keep them going.