Many of the local myths that grow around America's lighthouses are just
that -- baseless legend and fable. A case in point is the Biloxi lighthouse on the Gulf coast of Mississippi.
In days gone by, one of the popular legends concerning the Biloxi lighthouse was that it was painted with a coat of black paint following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in April 1865. What actually happened was that the lighthouse was originally painted black but was repainted white so as to make it stand out more against the background of live oak trees. And this occurred in 1867 -- two years after the president's death.
In a beautiful town with many wonderful coastal sites to visit -- the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the Maritime Museum, the Marine Life Oceanarium -- the Biloxi lighthouse stands out.
Located about six miles west of the entrance to Biloxi Harbor, the Biloxi lighthouse was built in 1848. The 48-foot conical tower was made of cast iron, with an inner masonry wall of locally fired bricks. Mounted on top of the tower was a fourth-order Fresnel lens.
One of the unusual facts about the Biloxi lighthouse is that it has had two female lighthouse keepers. Maria Younghans, who held the job from 1867 through 1920, was succeeded by her daughter Miranda, who stayed until 1929.
The Gulf Coast is famous for its powerful hurricanes, which are born of the warm waters held between the low, humid panhandle of Florida and the Mexican tropical coast. However, the Biloxi lighthouse has withstood them all.
Today the Biloxi lighthouse is one of the easiest lighthouses to see in the United States. It is, believe it or not, located in the grassy median strip between the eastbound and westbound lanes of U.S. 90.