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Kilauea Point Lighthouse
PO Box 1128
Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii 96754
Voice: 808-828-1413

Kilauea Lighthouse is located in the Kaua'i National Wildlife Refuge Kilauea Point is the northern-most point of land on the inhabited Hawaiian Islands, and is the first landfall seen by ships arriving from the Orient. This, plus the height of the peninsula, is why the site - 31 acres - purchased by the American government in 1909 for the construction of the lighthouse. The purchase price was $1.00! Construction began in July 1912, and the Kilauea Point Lighthouse was dedicated on May 1, 1913 with a luau that included residents of the nearby Kilauea Sugar Plantation. The centerpiece of the lighthouse, Kilauea's "Crown Jewel", is the lens, designed by Augustin Fresnel and fabricated in Paris, France by the firm of Barbier, Bernard & Turenne. A Fresnel lens is a concentrated version of the standard lens. Hundreds of glass prisms concentrate and focus the light passing through the lens. The lens is two-sided, shaped like a clam's shell, with two bull's-eyes on each side, giving the light its characteristic signal of two flashes every ten seconds. The lens is a 2nd order lens - a reference to the maximum inside measurement, 55 1/8 inches between lens surfaces. The entire lens assembly weighs about 4.5 tons (4082 Kg), and was designed to "float" on mercury and pressurized air. A system of cables, weights, and pulleys rotated the lens, much like descending weights turn the hands of a grandfather clock. The weights would gravitate down a shaft in the center of the lighthouse. (One of the weights is currently used as the lighthouse doorstop.) The "clock" had to be wound - the weights pulled back to the top - every 3 1/2 hours. An electric motor was installed in 1939, eliminating the lighthouse keeper's task, but the reliable clock-line system was kept as a back-up. The lens was originally lit by an incandescent oil vapor lamp, similar to today’s camping lanterns. Even with the original intensity of only 250,000 candlepower, the light could be seen 20 miles out at sea and from 90 miles away in the air. In 1930, in the form of generators, electricity came to the Point, and the lamp was replaced by a light bulb. The wattage was increased twice, with the light reaching its final rating of 2,500,000 candlepower in 1958. After World War II, RADAR (Radio Detecting and Ranging), Loran (Long range Navigation), and other technological advances made the use of lighthouses as navigational aids obsolete. In 1976, while still operable but no longer used by large ships and planes, the U.S. Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse and installed an automated beacon for local boaters and aircraft. In 1979, the magnificent Kilauea Point Lighthouse and three lighthouse keepers’ homes were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



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