Biloxi Lighthouse Still Stands Tall - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/04/04

Biloxi Lighthouse Still Stands Tall

The Biloxi Lighthouse began guiding boats and welcoming visitors more than 156 years ago.

It's a favorite of tourists and the focus of countless picture postcards. Built in 1848, the resilient structure has withstood the fury of more than two dozen hurricanes. The Biloxi Lighthouse beacon still directs boaters and fishermen.

"I think it's an icon. It tells a lot about our history as a maritime community, bringing the boats to safe harbor. And you know people across the country just love lighthouses. They're very unique buildings. Very different," said Lolly Barnes, the historical administrator for the City of Biloxi .

It's the only lighthouse in America located in the middle of a four lane highway. In the early days, it was much closer to the water's edge.

"At one point the waves had undermined the structure. And it leaned. Until after the Civil War, when they were able to excavate it from the other side and level the lighthouse again," Barnes explained.

A long running myth about the lighthouse involves its change of color sometime after the Civil War. The myth says the lighthouse was painted black to mourn the death of Abraham Lincoln. The truth is the lighthouse was covered with black tar as a rust proofing measure. It was painted white again after boat captains complained the black lighthouse was difficult to see against a backdrop of dark pine trees.

"And this is probably the most famous shot of the lighthouse," said Murella Powell, as she pointed to an old picture postcard of the lighthouse.

Powell is a local history librarian who maintains a collection of lighthouse photos, including a Christmas card and pictures showing the lighthouse at the water's edge.

It still stands tall after 156 years.

By Steve Phillips

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