Biloxi light house shines bright after 163 years - - Jackson, MS

Biloxi light house shines bright after 163 years

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BILOXI, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Biloxi Lighthouse has been here since 1848. To put that in perspective, Jefferson Davis would have ridden in his buggy past this lighthouse on the way to and from Church every Sunday after the Civil War during the years he lived at Beauvoir.

But probably we are more familiar with the lighthouse riding out Hurricane Katrina. Everything around it and inland for a quarter mile at that spot was reduced to rubble. But the lighthouse stood. Bill Raymond is Historical Administrator for the City of Biloxi and remembers surveying the town the morning after Katrina.

Bill Raymond: And I go from Tullos Manor which is gone. The Old Brick house which was severely damaged, Bromeyer House on the town green was gone. And I got to the lighthouse and it was standing. It was battered but it was still standing.

Walt: Although Katrina was the strongest, the lighthouse had seen plenty of hurricanes since 1848.

Bill Raymond: Over 20 hurricanes it's had to withstand. It's had issues over the years, but its really done really well. And you have to wonder if it's the actual shape of the lighthouse and the wind just goes around it. So it doesn't really have a flat surface to catch so it could get battered.

Walt: Hurricane Katrina actually did more damage inside the lighthouse than out.

Bill: The mortar was 150 years old and it was deteriorated so that the water was actually pulling the sand out from between the bricks until the brick interior collapsed, or a good section of the brick interior and when the water went out it took the brinks with it so that had to be rebuilt. It's interesting that they built the lighthouse for $12,000. It took me, in six weeks. It took me 4 and a half years and $415.000 to put it back together after the hurricane.

Walt: And one last point. I had always heard the lighthouse had been painted black for a period of time after Lincoln's assassination. It's true, the lighthouse had been covered over with a black tar pitch in 1866. But it really wasn't because of Lincoln. It was because the lighthouse had been neglected during the Civil War and the pitch was used to stop rust on the cast iron hull. However, that didn't stop local promoters around the turn of the 20th century from telling northern visitors that it was all in Lincolns honor back then. And it still makes a good half-truth.

But the wonder of the Biloxi Lighthouse is that it still is standing after Camille and Katrina and other storms. And that is why it was adopted as the car license tag symbol for Mississippi this cycle. Lighting the way and still standing.

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