Kilauea Point Lighthouse


Kilauea Point, the northernmost outpost of the main Hawaiian Island chain, was acquired by the U.S. government in 1909. A U.S. Coast Guard station was established in 1913, and a 52-foot-tall, reinforced-concrete lighthouse was constructed atop the cliff. The world's largest clamshell Fresnel lens was lit by an oil-vapor lamp and produced a beam that could be seen 90 miles away. Lighthouse engineers devised a massive weight, cable, and pulley system, called a "clock," to turn the 4-ton lens, creating a signature double-flash every 10 seconds. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1976, when an automated electronic beacon was installed.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Electrical, Mechanical
Topic(s):Technology/Materials
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:In 1822, French engineer Augustin Fresnel invented a lighthouse lens that produced a beam five times stronger than that produced by the silvered reflectors used in the U.S. Europe embraced the new lens, but the head of the U.S. Lighthouse Board, Stephen Pleasonton, resisted. Finally, in the 1850s, the Fresnel lens was authorized for use in the U.S.
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