Having survived numerous major hurricanes, including Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina, the Biloxi Lighthouse is the most photographed landmark on the Gulf Coast.
The Biloxi Lighthouse has been shining its light over the city of Biloxi Mississippi for 162 years. It was erected in 1848, costing a little more than $6000, to help ships navigate the Mississippi Sound, and it is the last of 10 lighthouses remaining on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
It stands 65 feet high and is almost 15 feet wide at its base. It originally housed 9 lanterns for its light source, and was converted to electrical power in 1927. It is the only lighthouse in the United States that is located in the middle of a four lane highway, US Route 90, which runs along the Biloxi beachfront.
The construction of the Biloxi Lighthouse marks an engineering innovation milestone for the 1800s. The brick interior walls were encased by cast-iron exterior panels, which are believed to be what is responsible for the lighthouse’s longevity. The panels were fabricated in Baltimore, MD, shipped to Biloxi, and assembled on the site.
Civilian operated from 1848 to 1939, the Biloxi Lighthouse is also historically significant in that it has been maintained by female operators for more years than any other lighthouse in the United States.
Mary Reynolds became the lighthouse keeper in 1854 and served until the Civil War. In 1866, Maria Younghans took over the lighthouse operation from her husband when he fell ill, and remained for 53 years. When she retired, her daughter, Miranda, assumed the role for another 10 years. The US Coast Guard took over operations in 1939.
Recent Historical Facts
The Biloxi Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1973, and was officially named a Mississippi Landmark in 1987. The image of the Biloxi Lighthouse was used on Mississippi license plates in 2007 to serve as a symbol of strength and recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In July 2009, the US Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp depicting the famous Biloxi Lighthouse.
Although it stood strong in the face of Hurricane Katrina, it did suffer some major damage. Three and a half years after the storm, work began to repair and restore the Biloxi Lighthouse, which took 14 months and $400,000 funded by FEMA and MEMA to complete.
A relighting ceremony was held in February 2010, and the following day visitors were able to once again take the tour by climbing the 57 spiral steps and 8-rung ladder through the hatch into the light room, while viewing on the way up the watermarks left on the walls by the hurricanes that have occurred throughout its history.