Click here to read more about the Fresnel Lens and the Ocracoke Lighthouse: http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/search?q=fresnel.
But what methods were used to illuminate American lighthouses prior to 1822? Below is a partial list, in chronological order, of various devices and mechanisms:
- Simple pole lights upon which were burned bales of pitch-soaked oakum (loose fiber obtained by untwisting old rope).
- Tallow candles set in chandeliers and enclosed in a lantern room (until the mid-1700s).
- Oil Lamps
- Simple, open reservoirs filled with oil (whale oil was most highly prized) into which several cotton-rope wicks were placed.
- Pan lamps: enclosed trays with as many as two dozen wicks. Some lighthouses suspended more than one pan lamp in the lantern room. "Compass lamps" were round.
- Bucket lamps: larger devices that could hold as much as two gallons of oil, with numerous metal spouts into which were threaded thick rope wicks.
- Argand lamps: invented by French physicist, Francois-Pierre Ami Argand, employed a much cleaner burning hollow wick encased in a metal tube, and a glass chimney.
- Reflector lamps: an Argand lamp with an added silver-coated parabolic reflector.
- Winslow Lewis lamps: an Argand lamp modified with a convex, bottle glass magnifier.
Eventually all lighthouses were electrified. The Ocracoke lighthouse was fitted with a Fresnel lens in 1854, and electrified in 1929.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.