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Our 3rd Order Fresnel Lens

Available to view by all guests staying at the B&B

On Display at the Big Bay Lighthouse 

We are proud to announce that our original 3rd order Fresnel lens has returned back to the lighthouse and is on display for our guests. The lens is also visible during scheduled tour dates. 


Designed to capture nearly 90% of light from the source, the Fresnel  lens was  and still is a modern marvel  when it comes to bending and refracting light. The lens segments, or prisms, were hand cut and polished. Todays technology can barely replicate the precision of the prisms fabricated in the 1800s. 
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Original Lens 

Build in 1895, our original 3rd order lens was hand crafted in France by the Henry-Lepaute Company. The lens weighs nearly 2,000-pounds and was purchased by the U.S. Lighthouse Service for $3,800 (equal to $116,766 in 2020). Illuminated with a double wick kerosine mantel, the lens provided a visible beam that could be spotted by a mariner 20-miles away. 

Originally, the lens provided a fixed/flashing pattern where the mariner would see a continuous solid light, varied by a bright flash every 20-seconds. The flash was provided by separate flash panels that rotated around the lens. The location of the flash panels is unknown. 

Lens Display 

At Big Bay Lighthouse, we pride ourselves on the traditions of the U.S. Lighthouse Service and the U.S. Coast Guard. Along with our 3rd order lens, we offer a 4th order drums Fresnel Lens and a collection of modern marine lanterns that have been donated to us by the Coast Guard.  All lenses on display have been used at various light stations or buoys. 
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