A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses and used as a navigational aid for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways.

Lighthouses mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals, reefs, safe entries to harbors, and can also assist in aerial navigation. Once widely used, the number of operational lighthouses has declined due to the expense of maintenance and use of electronic navigational systems.

Visiting and photographing lighthouses are popular hobbies as is collecting ceramic replicas. Some lighthouses are popular travel destinations in their own right, and the buildings maintained as tourist attractions. In the U.S., National Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend is celebrated on the first weekend of August, and International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend on the third weekend. Many lighthouses are open to the public and amateur radio operators communicate between them on these days.

Lighthouses are popular icons on vehicle license plates. Barnegat Lighthouse, Tuckerton Island Lighthouse, Thomas Point Shoal Light, Saybrook Breakwater Light, White Shoal Light, and Biloxi Light are so depicted.

To recognize the role of lighthouse keepers in maritime safety, the U.S. Coast Guard named a class of 175-foot (53 m) coastal buoy tenders after famous U.S. lighthouse keepers. Fourteen ships in the class were built between 1996 and 2000.

Due to their function as beacons of safety, organizations choose lighthouses as a symbol. The lighthouse is the symbol of Lighthouse International, a U.S. organization for the blind.

Lighthouses were once regarded as an archetypal public good, because ships could benefit from the light without being forced to pay. The Confederate States Constitution explicitly allowed public funds to be spent on navigation, including lighthouses.

A widely disseminated urban legend tells of a radio conversation between a U.S. or British naval vessel and what is believed to be another ship on a collision course. The naval vessel insists the other ship change course, but the other ship continues to insist the naval vessel do so. After the captain of the naval vessel identifies himself and demands a course change, the other party responds with, "I'm a lighthouse. It's your call".

Source: Lighthouse from Wikipedia

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