Lighthouse Service Uniforms Seeing The Light

Uniforms worn by members of the Lighthouse Service



Prior to 1894, those in the Lighthouse Service were largely free to dress as they pleased. With the introduction of uniform standards in 1894, the wearing of uniforms became mandatory. The regulations of 1912 further specified the nature of these uniforms, with all divisions wearing a basic uniform consisting of a single breasted, fly-front coat, fitted closely to the body, similar to the Revenue Service uniform previously authorized in 1891. Also part of the standard uniform was a Navy-type cap, with a silver lighthouse ornament centered with a  surrounding wreath.

Specific differences within the Divisions were as follows:

Lighthouse Keepers
The basic uniform was embellished with embroidered loops on the collars, enclosing the letter "K", naturally signifying "Keeper." Sleeve ornaments were not included in the approved Lighthouse personnel uniform. Regulation buttons also portrayed a lighthouse. 

Assistant Keepers
Assistant Keeper's uniforms were similar to those worn by the Head Keepers, with the exception that the embroidered loops on the collars contained the numbers "1" to "4", depending on the Assistant's rank.

Lighthouse Tender Officers
The basic uniform was similar to that worn by Keepers, with the addition of black mohair braid stripes, similar to naval officer stripes. Tender Captain uniforms featured two wide outer stripes and two narrow inner stripes. Second officers wore two stripes, and third officers, one stripe. Collar ornaments featuring embroidered anchors.  

Lighthouse Tender Engineers

Chief engineers wore three stripes, assistant engineers wore two stripes and second assistants, one stripe. Collar loops similar to those worn by Tender Officers, featured embroidered three-bladed propellers.

Quartermasters & Machinists
A double-breasted coat was prescribed for both quartermasters and machinists, featuring five gilt buttons on each breast. Caps carried the letters U.S.L.S beneath the standard lighthouse ornament centered with surrounding wreath.

Supply Depots
Supply Depot Keepers wore the same uniform as the lighthouse keepers. Watchmen wore a uniform typical of policemen of the period, being a single-breasted Army-style coat with five gilt buttons and high collar. The standard embroidered loop on the collar containing the letter "W". Black police-style helmet were worn during winter, and tan during summer. Both featured the lighthouse ornament front and center. For Captains of the watch, a  wreath surrounded the lighthouse. Watchmen wore police badges on their tunic lettered  U.S.L.H.S Police.

This page last updated 10/01/2003

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