It was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all lighthouses and lightvessels in the United States. In 1789, the United States Lighthouse Establishment was created and operated under the Department of the Treasury, all U. S. lighthouse ownership was transferred to the government which became the general lighthouse authority. In 1792, the Cape Henry Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built by the USLHE, in 1822, French physicist, Augustin Fresnel designed the Fresnel lens. In 1841 the Fresnel lens was first used in the United States, in 1852, The Lighthouse Board was created. In 1871, the Duxbury Pier Light became the first caisson lighthouse built in the United States, in 1877, kerosene became the primary fuel for lighthouses. Prior to this varies fuels included sperm oil, Colza oil, rapeseed oil, in 1884, uniforms came into use by all members of the Lighthouse Board. In 1886, the Statue of Liberty was the first lighthouse to use electricity, in 1898, all coastal lighthouses were extinguished, for the first time in U. S. history, as a precaution during the Spanish–American War. In 1904, the Lightship Nantucket became first U. S. vessel to have radio communication, in 1910, the Bureau of Lighthouses was created and operated as the United States Lighthouse Service. In 1910,11,713 aids to navigation of all types were around the country, congress abolished the U. S. Light-House Board and created the Bureau of Lighthouses under the Department of Commerce. The Board had hired a number of civilians and many of these people took over the roles that the military officers had been playing. Though initially called inspectors, the heads of the districts changed their titles to superintendent. President William Taft selected George R. Putnam to head the new bureau, for 25 years, Putnam headed the bureau and during his administration, navigational aids saw a substantial increase. New technology was incorporated into the work, particularly in the area of electric aids. This new technology permitted a reduction of over 800 employees during Putnams 25 years as head of the bureau, during World War I and the period following, several technological advances contributed to the automation of lighthouses, rendering human occupancy unnecessary. A device for automatically replacing burned-out electric lamps in lighthouses was developed and placed in several stations in 1916. A bell alarm warning keepers of fluctuations in the efficiency of oil-vapor lamps was developed in 1917. In the same year, the first experimental radiobeacon was installed in a lighthouse, the only lightvessel of the service sunk by enemy action was the LV-71 on August 6,1918. After the sinking of the SS Merak by the German submarine U-104 near Diamond Shoals, nobody was hurt in the action because the German commander allowed the Americans to evacuate the ship before firing
U.S. Light House Service Stop Watch (ca. 1931) – specially manufactured by the Gallet Watch Company for USLHS use.
Diamond Shoal Lightship No. 71
USLHS Greenbriar in 1938
Image: Pennant of the United States Lighthouse Service