The first lighthouse in the United States, Boston Light, was built in 1716 on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor. More than 300 years later, we still find ourselves fascinated by these illuminated lookouts made to guide mariners safely back to shore. As a landlocked state, Missouri isn’t exactly a hub for lighthouses. Yet there are a few places within our borders to experience these iconic pieces of nautical life. All of Missouri’s lighthouse structures are ornamental, but they still o„ffer up interesting history, a study in architecture, great views, or at the very least, a fun photo-op.

This lighthouse in Branson has the same distinctive black and white daymark stripes as the Cape Hatteras lighthouse in North Carolina.

Stormy Point Village Resort Lighthouse • Branson

This 63-foot-tall lighthouse at the Stormy Point Village Resort is modeled after the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on Hatteras Island o the coast of North Carolina. Ozark construction firm Woodstone Builders built the round, black-and-white-striped structure in 2005. The interior of the $275,000 lighthouse is air-conditioned, and resort guests are welcome to climb the 75 steps to the top. Those who aren’t staying at the resort can still get a look at the lighthouse from Table Rock Lake or Stormy Point Road.

“The owners of the resort were from the Carolinas and liked the idea of a lighthouse in the Ozarks,” says Kirk Ashlock, vice president of construction and operations at Woodstone Builders. “We just used pictures to re-create it. It is about 40 percent of the size of the Hatteras lighthouse. It is one of the most interesting structures we have ever built.”

Pla-Port Lighthouse • Osage Beach

The former Pla-Port lighthouse was once a major landmark of the Lake of the Ozarks. Local historian Dwight Weaver, who has written extensively about the Lake of the Ozarks area, says he found local newspaper references to the Pla-Port lighthouse that date back as far as 1932. Architect Thomas Forrester designed the lighthouse and oversaw its construction with a crew of 35 men. The cupola-style building rose above the trees on Observation Heights, what was then the town’s highest point. The lighthouse had a rotating green light that was visible for 14 miles.

Part of the Pla-Port Resort, honeymoon suites were located on the second and third floors of the lighthouse. There was a dance floor, gift shop, and concession stand on the ground level. The Pla-Port lighthouse was demolished in the early 1960s. Today, the site, at 1222 Lands’ End Parkway, is occupied by the Lands’ End Condominiums.

This resilient lighthouse is located about 36 miles northwest of St. Louis at Duck Club Yacht Club.

Duck Club Yacht Club Lighthouse • St. Charles

A survivor of 41 floods, the lighthouse at Duck Club Yacht Club is a fixture on the Mississippi River, at the mouth of Dardenne Slough on the 221-mile marker. A crew of volunteers, led by Joseph Becker Construction, built the 38-foot lighthouse in 1991. It took months of planning but only two weeks of construction to complete. Funds for the project were raised by selling donor recognition plaques, which are displayed on the base of the lighthouse. The cost of building materials was $8,000.

“The base of the lighthouse is three times stronger than an average foundation,” says harbormaster Mike Eberhardt. “The base is only five feet above minor flood stage levels. During the flood of 1993, the water was 23 feet up and the lighthouse sustained no damage.”

The lighthouse beacon is a 2-pound, 500-watt bulb that was repurposed from an airport landing strip. Mike uses a lift when it is time to change it out. The brick tower is painted white, with a cherry red door. The general public can schedule a walk around the exterior of the lighthouse by calling Mike in advance at 636-250-4321.

Mark Twain earned his steamboat pilot’s license in 1859 at age 23. This Hannibal lighthouse is a nod to that history.

Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse • Hannibal

With several incarnations and ties to three US presidents and one of America’s most famous literary figures, this northeast Missouri lighthouse is an intriguing stop for history bu…s.

Mark Twain’s 100th birthday and his years as a riverboat pilot were the inspiration behind his hometown’s decision to commission the original lighthouse. After two months of construction, the city held a dedication ceremony on January 15, 1935. The event was broadcast across the country. Missouri dignitaries traveled to Hannibal to give their remarks, and Mark Twain’s daughter, Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, spoke from Detroit. President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation from the White House and turned a gold key from his desk to shine the lighthouse beacon for the first time.

Twenty-five years later, 70 mph winds destroyed the lighthouse on April 28, 1960. The city rebuilt it and held a dedication ceremony for the current lighthouse on May 24, 1963. The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts passed the beacon light, which was donated by the US Coast Guard, one-by-one from the base to the top. From the White House, President John F. Kennedy hit a switch to turn on the light. In 1994, Hannibal hosted another dedication in celebration of a two-year renovation of the lighthouse. This time, President Bill Clinton lit the beacon.

The 54-foot lighthouse—constructed of metal framework, wood, and cedar shingles—stands 200 feet above the Mississippi River on the blu…s of Cardi… Hill, a location mentioned in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. A 1926 statue of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn greets visitors at the bottom of Cardi… Hill. From there, a 244-step staircase travels up to a scenic overlook at the base of the lighthouse. Visitors may explore the exterior of the lighthouse, but the interior is closed to the public due to structural concerns.

“There is a storyboard next to the lighthouse telling the history, and there is a beautiful view of the river and downtown Hannibal,” says Mary Lynne Richards, marketing director/recreation supervisor for Hannibal Parks & Recreation.

The Hannibal City Council recently approved the construction of a new lighthouse on the same site. It should be complete in time for the city’s bicentennial in 2019.

“The Parks Department will be working with the Hannibal Board of Public Works on a new lighting component for the lighthouse that will allow us to illuminate the entire structure diff…erent colors at night,” Mary says.