Gulf Coast Lighthouses
Issue Date: July 23, 2009
City: Biloxi, MS
Please note: Due to the layout of the pane, the se-tenant may or may not be provided in Scott Catalogue order.
Lighthouses built along the Gulf Coast of the United States faced two remarkable forces – Mother Nature’s fury plus the devastation of America’s tragic Civil War. The few that survive bear witness to decades of hurricanes, erosion, and man’s attempts to save these towering sentinels.
Blockades prevented the transport of supplies and troops during the Civil War, making it critical for both sides to control waterways. The Gulf Coast lighthouses provided an ideal vantage point for the North to observe and protect its blockades or for the South to spy on them. Due to their strategic military importance, these sites were frequently disabled, destroyed, or turned into battle scenes.
Severe weather and erosion also threatened the structures. Lighthouses were built close to the water’s edge to guide ships around dangerous coastlines and safely into harbors. The terrain along the Gulf Coast of the United States presents a unique set of challenges. Much of the land is swampy, which makes it difficult to engineer a solid foundation. Frequent hurricanes compound the problem. The lighthouse must be sturdy enough to withstand high winds, plus counter shifts caused by eroding soil at its foundation.
Of all the lighthouses built along the Gulf Coast, only a handful have met these challenges and survive today. Five are honored on 2009 Gulf Coast Lighthouses U.S. commemorative stamps.