Louisiana boasts 14 lighthouses, the oldest dating back to 1839. In August, 1789, the First Congress federalized existing lighthouses. Built by the colonists, funds were appropriated for lighthouses, beacons and buoys. As noted in a previous column, the lighthouse safely directed ships through episodes of fog and storms. Sound was used to guide ships and in colonial times shore-fired cannons, warned ships away from foggy coastlines. Fog bells were first used in 1852, a mechanical bell in 1869, a fog trumpet in 1872 and an air siren in 1887. Members of the Lighthouse Service maintained the lights, performing their duties in extreme hardship. On August 7, 1939, the administration of the lighthouses was transferred to the Coast Guard.