In the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge on the coast of South Carolina, two abandoned lighthouses stand on an island once known as Raccoon Key. They warned mariners about a dangerous shoal. The newer one figured in the Civil War, when Confederates put out the light so that the Yankees would have trouble navigating the waters.
The newer one, a black-and-white structure first lit in 1858, is in fairly good condition even though it hasn't been used for more than 60 years. In the 1940s, a lack of ship traffic in the area convinced officials that lighted buoys offshore would do the job instead.
The condition of the older lighthouse -- dating to 1827 -- is rapidly deteriorating. A classic, red brick, cone-shaped lighthouse, it's lost its interior staircase and other wooden parts.
Unlike most lighthouses, erosion isn't the problem here. The lighthouse doesn't need to be moved. It just needs a considerable investment of money and work before it falls apart. Unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's budget doesn't include money for lighthouse repairs.
Next, let's look north to a lighthouse in Canada.