Vacationers flock to the Florida shores or beautiful beaches of Hawaii because they love the sea. But the ocean is not always such a calm place, as proven by international shipwrecks. Ships in the night need precautions to keep them safe. Of course, lighthouses fall into this category and the tallest among them are a sight to see in addition to the visibility they provide to passing ships
In the United States, the tallest beacons stand between 16 and 210 feet tall. So let’s highlight the 10 tallest in the entire country along with the five states with the most lights (and the least), as shown on the map below.
View Tallest lighthouse in the United States in a full screen map
We gathered the data from this List of tallest lighthouses in the United States to see how they dot the U.S. coasts (except for the one in Summersville Lake, West Virginia!). You can read on for more information about the tallest of the tall below.
Lighthouse height is of the utmost importance. The lights must be high enough for mariners to see before they reach danger. But how tall are lighthouses? Take the Statue of Liberty. The 305-foot (93 m) national monument was actually an operating lighthouse between 1886 and 1901 after a light was installed in the torch and around its feet.
While no official beacon in the U.S. rises to quite that height, several come close. The 10 tallest among them all stand above 150 feet, which you’ll see below and on the map when you filter by Height (ft).
- Cape Hatteras Light (210 feet)
- Cape Charles Light (191)
- Ponce de Leon Inlet Light (175)
- Absecon Light (171)
- Cape Lookout Light (169)
- Fire Island Light (168)
- St. Augustine Light (165)
- Cape Henry Light (164)
- Barnegat Light (163)
- Navassa Island Light (162)
So what is the tallest lighthouse in the United States? That’s the Cape Hatteras Light (210 ft.). Located in the Outer Banks of Buxton, North Carolina, the beacon is 19 feet more than even the next tallest light.
Also of note: eight of the 10 tallest are located in the Eastern U.S. Even more specifically, six reside in the Southeastern region of the country. The Cape Charles Light (the second tallest beacon at 191 ft.) and Cape Henry Light (164 ft.) are of Virginia while the previously discussed Cape Hatteras Light along with Cape Lookout Light (169 ft.) were built in North Carolina. Also in the Southwest are Florida’s Ponce de Leon Inlet (175 ft.) and St. Augustine Lights (165 ft.). New Jersey’s Absecon Light (171 ft.) and Barnegat Light (163 ft.) round out the last of the tallest lighthouses concentrated in the East.
Check out Where Are the World’s Tallest Buildings? or take a closer look at where these lights are located.
North Carolina and other Southeastern states may be where the top 10 tallest of the tall reside, but where are the majority of the 240+ tallest beacons located? Below are the states with more than 10 uber-tall lighthouses.
- Michigan (110 lighthouses)
- California (30)
- Washington (16)
- Florida (15)
- Alaska (12)
Michigan is the home of more than 45% of the U.S.’s tallest lighthouses and the northern region of the Great Lake State like Mackinaw and Cheboygan is where they’re most concentrated. After Michigan, California has the most, followed by Washington, Florida, and Alaska. North Carolina, Oregon, Maryland, and Maine also have more than five tall lights, though it’s still a feat when compared to states with none or just one.
On the other hand, what are some places that have fewer beacons? As the 243 tallest lighthouses are spread across just 25 U.S. states, half have none. It’s easy to see which states are without on the map (pretty much every state that’s not on the water). All the more interesting: the states (on the coasts) with only one.
These single-lighthouse states include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. The New London Harbor Light (89 ft) is in CT. The Marcus Hook Light is along the Delaware River and stands 100 feet tall. Hawaii’s sole light (138 ft) is on the north side of Moloka’i while the 45-foot Beavertail Light is located in Little Rhody.
Additionally, the non-coastal states of Illinois, Minnesota, and West Virginia each only have a single lighthouse.
The last location with just one beacon is Navassa Island, a small uninhabited island in the Caribbean Sea. Now let’s switch gears to a better way of viewing your many map markers (like 243 of the tallest lighthouses).
Sometimes you find yourself with a lot of data squished together location-wise. While a map of your data is a much better place to store and visualize location information than a spreadsheet, you may run into marker overload. For example, there’re 243 tall lighthouses on the map, but they’re concentrated close together on the country’s coasts. It can be hard to get an idea of individual markers without zooming in and losing the big picture.
This is why a way to see an overview of what’s below is invaluable. With map clustering, which is automatically enabled on maps with 300+ locations, there’s no need to zoom or squint. Markers that are near each other are replaced with another icon to represent multiple markers. You’ll be able to see either the number of markers the new icon contains or the average or sum of specific data. You can adjust the data settings and also manually enable it on less crowded maps.
Explore how icons that summarize multiple markers help you better understand your data at batchgeo.com.