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A brief history

Between 1836 and 1887 the British Imperial Lighthouse Service (ILS) commissioned 11 manned lightstations to be built as remote outposts in the Bahama Islands.  Manned and hand-operated continuously since 1863, the Elbow Reef Lightstation is now the only active Bahamian lighthouse to remain hand-wound and kerosene burning. It is the only lighthouse of this kind in the world.


In 1973, oversight of the 11 Bahamian lighthouses passed from the British Imperial Lighthouse Service to The Bahamas Port Department. Two had already been decommissioned and between 1973 and 2012, the other lighthouses were automated except Elbow Reef at Hope Town and San Salvador.


Elbow Reef Lighthouse was saved (from automation) by the Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society (BLPS) which formed in 1992. By promising the Bahamas Government to take over the maintenance needs of the Lighttower, they were able to stop the decommissioning plans. This group, BLPS was reorganized and renamed, the Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society in 2013.


The Lighthouse and eight outbuildings including two Keepers Quarters are historic buildings (built 1862-1863). All outbuildings were badly damaged in the 2019 Hurricane Dorian.

In February, 2021 The ERLS met with the Prime Minister Dr. The Most Honourable Hubert Minnis to report that out of a near one million dollar restoration effort, the ERLS had completed critical repairs to the lighstation from donations. Over $305,452 in cash (plus $70,000 in kind) has been implemented in restoration projects from October 2019 - January 2021 

In October 2021, the ERLS Toured the U.S. Embassy to see how much work had progressed post-Hurricane Dorian.

Also in October 2021, the Bahamian Project profiled the work of the ERLS. 

On February 18, 2022, the U.S. Embassy Nassau held a ceremony at the Lightstation with the ERLS and heads of Government to announce that the 2021 Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation was awarded to the ERLS.

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