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Lighthouses get their day

AUG. 7 — Today is National Lighthouse Day, which was started in 1989 as a day to promote opening America’s beacons to the public.

Lighthouses across the country will be open at various times this week and weekend, with some organizers hosting educational tours, according to the American Lighthouse Foundation.

The annual date was selected because on Aug. 7, 1789, Congress approved an act for the establishment and support of lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers.

The Coast Guard assumed responsibility for maintaining lighthouses in 1939. By 1989 every lighthouse in the United States had been automated except Boston Light, which was finally automated on April 16, 1998.

The care of lighthouses falls under the Coast Guard’s Short-Range Aids to Navigation Program. Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, the Department of the Interior is charged with recommending the transfer of historic lighthouses (at little or no cost) to federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit corporations and community development organizations.

To date, the Secretary of the Interior has recommended 36 lighthouses for transfer and a number of these have already been transferred to new owners.