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The last lighthouse keeper of Capri (bbc.com)
48 points by MiriamWeiner 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments

For anyone interested in the story of lighthouses and their keepers (focused on the Americas with a few scattered stories of elsewhere), I'd highly recommend Brilliant Beacons by Eric Jay Dolin (https://www.amazon.com/Brilliant-Beacons-History-American-Li...).

He writes history books that are full of anecdotes and interesting, well-researched primary sources. Hardly any of the information in the books are discoverable online, and realizing that is largely what inspired me to get into reading again.

Has anyone bought / rented an old lighthouse, purely to live in? I’m fascinated by the idea - tons of time to read, draw, work on personal projects, etc.

In the US, lighthouses have been sold to private individuals. There's one I know on Cape Cod that's some sort of vacation rental. Apparently the Graves Lighthouse in Boston Harbor is also now privately owned. [1]

A couple points of information that you may know but others may not realize:

1.) Not all lighthouses are particularly isolated. Sure, some have only boat access and have difficult landings--see the Graves. But many are on roads on the mainland or on large islands.

2.) Again the Graves notwithstanding, the lighthouse keeper's house is often a cottage off to the side as opposed to the "lighthouse" itself.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Graves_Light

Interesting, thanks. And I actually quite like the idea of living in a small cottage and using the lighthouse as a studio/workshop.

This Old House visited a converted lighthouse in Season 36 Episode 7. They went over all the things you need to do to convert it to a livable space. Long story short, it's expensive and requires a lot of work.

Sadly it doesn't look like that episode is easily accessible.



Frank Gilbreth, motion study pioneer and father of twelve, famously bought two.


With every sentence, my envy of the keeper’s life grew.

Indeed. Great view, time for reading and thinking, steps for exercise, saving lives, few social events to attend...

One stalwart sentinel remains in South Africa; three in France; a handful in India, Myanmar (also known as Burma) and Portugal; and fewer than 50 in Canada.

Anyone know why there are so many still in Canada?

People might be interested in the following project to turn Graves Light in Boston Harbor into a modern, livable space. It's tough as the space is tight and the conditions can be fierce ... last winter a storm ripped everything off the dock.


At a guess, Canada has a lot of coastline, especially compared to the others in the list. Much of it is quite rocky.

No idea if it's true but it's a solid guess. Canada has far and away the most coastline of any nation. Amounts vary depending on source but they have roughly four times as much as the number two on the list, Norway.


Not really. It is just that the Canadian government decided to keep paying for human light keepers and other countries decided that was a waste of money.


But the question isn't about getting rid of the lighthouses, it's about not staffing them. As one might suspect, lighthouses can be automated. No one needs to be nearby to refill the whale oil tank for the light.

I literally just learned about that before reading your comment. Pretty amazing. I've sea kayaked out there and it's not an easy landing under the best of circumstances.

>Anyone know why there are so many still in Canada?

I found myself wondering how many are part of the Northwest Passage, given Canada's national defense considerations there.

They'll leave the lighthouse with this song:


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