Made famous by its decades of female lightkeepers, the historic Biloxi Lighthouse still stands watch on the shores of Mississippi Sound. As a survivor of many catastrophic Gulf of Mexico hurricanes, this lighthouse continues to stand strong in its position.
Built in 1847 and first lit in 1848, the Biloxi Lighthouse has been an iconic landmark along the southern Mississippi coast. The lighthouse tower is 61′ tall.
The second lightkeeper assigned to maintain Biloxi Light was a generous woman by the name of Mary Reynolds. She was a hard worker and determined to support the accumulation of children she had taken in. All of the children had been orphaned and Ms. Reynolds felt the need to provide them a home. Even during the violent hurricane of 1860 where many structures were destroyed, Ms. Reynolds faced the strong winds and rain to ensure that the light stayed on.
Due to the devastation from the hurricane of 1860, it was placed out of commission during the Civil War because of a lack of resources. It turned on its light once again after a brief restoration period in 1866.
By the time that the lighthouse resumed service, Ms. Reynolds had already found other occupation. So in her place was appointed Mr. Perry Younghans who was accompanied by his wife Maria in the keepers house. Unfortunately, Perry passed away within a year of assuming his position, leaving the care of the lighthouse to Maria. She cared for the light for several decades, also maintaining the beacon during several damaging hurricanes. She retired in 1918 at the age of 76, leaving her daughter Miranda to care for the Biloxi Lighthouse.
Miranda Younghans never married, but she helped her mother care for the light and in time took over in its operation. In 1927, the station was electrified but supervision of the Biloxi Lighthouse was still necessary it was not yet automated. Maria maintained the building until her retirement in 1929. Over the course of the lighthouses operation, the Younghans cared for the light for 63 consecutive years. Other keepers took over operation of the Biloxi Lighthouse until its automation in 1941.
In 1960, the lighthouse made history as a planned Civil Rights protest occurred on the beach in front of the lighthouse. Mississippi’s beaches had been segregated and African American residents felt this needed a symbolic movement to repeal such legislation. Therefore a wade-in was hosted, similar to other sit-in events that had been going on across the South.
The historic lightkeepers home was destroyed during Hurricane Camille in 1969. The Biloxi Lighthouse has been restored by generous donations and the City of Biloxi. It welcomes tourists to explore the important beacon on the shores of Mississippi.
Overall, this lighthouse is special because it has seen more years of care under a woman lightkeeper than any other in the United States. It is also an important site for Civil Rights and a witness to numerous hurricanes that have battered the Mississippi coast.
How to Visit
The Biloxi Lighthouse and Visitor Center is located at 1050 Beach Boulevard. The lighthouse is open regularly for guided tours. For more information about hours, admission and other details, please visit the official website here.
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