When the Europeans began colonizing Africa, they built lighthouses to aid shipping and trade. Gabon was a French colony; its denizens built the lighthouse at Cap Lopez in 1911. The company -- run by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame -- built numerous cast-iron lighthouses, but it's not known for sure whether Eiffel built the Cap Lopez lighthouse. Lighthouse expert Russ Rowlett says that people often claim any cast-iron lighthouse as an Eiffel creation.
The 98-foot (30-meter) high lighthouse is threatened by erosion. It's also severely rusted and needs paint.
Cap Lopez is at the far western tip of Equatorial Africa. The lighthouse was built to help guide ships into the harbor at Port Gentil. It has been out of use for many years, but it's become a popular tourist attraction.