Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. -- As the sun rises, the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is silhouetted against the early morning sky.
The Canaveral light is the only operating lighthouse owned by the U.S. Air Force. In 2000, the Coast Guard transferred ownership of the lighthouse structure and its grounds to the Air Force, which is now responsible for maintaining it. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to operate the modern first-order beacon as an active navigational aid. The first lighthouse at Cape Canaveral was built near the tip of the Cape in 1848. The structure was only about 60 feet high with a rather dim light powered by whale oil. In 1859, work began nearby on a new, taller iron structure. Construction was halted during the Civil War, and the lighthouse finally was finished in 1868. The structure, with a brick lining inside its iron exterior, was painted with its "daymark" black and white horizontal bands in 1873 to make it easier to identify during the day as a navigation point. Between 1892 and 1894, the lighthouse was dismantled and moved to its new home about a mile from the coast, where it stands today. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky