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#33326 - 12/28/07 02:18 PM Why are stairs open?
buoyhunter_190 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/02/06
Posts: 132
Loc: WI
I guess this will be the sequel to my why are the lighthouses white. I'm not a big fan of heights. I'm fine once I can get settled in place looking at the horizon and after some time I even find the courage to look straight down.

This was the first year I was able to climb to a top of a lighthouse. Windpoint was my first which I did twice and Cana Island was my second.

I wasn't too comfortable climbing the stairs with them being open to where you can see below. Is there a reason they would be open and not a solid stair? The only thing I can think of is a weight savings due to an open stair would weigh less than a solid stair.

Since I haven't been in a lot of lighthouses I can't compare to much. Are a lot of the stairs open?

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#33327 - 12/28/07 04:23 PM Re: Why are stairs open?
Dave H Online
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 7827
Loc: Kokomo, IN
Other than often taking pictures of the stairs winding up the towers I really never paid attention to whether they were open or solid as this didn't bother me. However, I think your feelings are shared by many.

Your thought on weight savings is a definite possibility. I also wonder if it might be that the open steps would allow any water that might make its way into the tower to drain down? Keep water or moisture from pooling on a step and creating a hazard for a keeper lugging fuel to the lantern.

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#33328 - 12/28/07 04:45 PM Re: Why are stairs open?
WackoPaul Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 8949
Loc: Indy
I would think that it also helps with the air flow or lack of air flow in a tower, but I bet weight is the main reason..
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#33329 - 12/28/07 05:17 PM Re: Why are stairs open?
Bob M Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 12331
Loc: North Attleboro, Mass.
Quote:
I wasn't too comfortable climbing the stairs with them being open to where you can see below. Is there a reason they would be open and not a solid stair? The only thing I can think of is a weight savings due to an open stair would weigh less than a solid stair.

My guess is light. More natural light can be utilized through open stairs. Solid stairs would block the light from passing to other parts of the tower.

Now that the topic has come up, here's food for thought. Think about the lights you have visited with solid stairs. Did they have small windows in the sides for some natural light? Then think about the lights you have visited with open stair cases. Were there any windows in the sides for natural lighting?

Open stairs are easier to sweep because everything falls to the bottom. That isn't the case with solid stairs.

Interesting thought provoking topic...

keyboard Bob

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#33330 - 12/28/07 05:18 PM Re: Why are stairs open?
seagirt Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 12/27/02
Posts: 3298
Loc: Central New Jersey
I was thinking cost, too. Holes = less metal = less cost.
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#33331 - 12/28/07 08:08 PM Re: Why are stairs open?
Bob48 Offline
Super Wacko

Registered: 12/18/02
Posts: 581
Loc: Colorado Springs
Also, when the lights were turned by weights moving up or down they could travel unimpeded by floors.
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#33332 - 12/29/07 12:48 PM Re: Why are stairs open?
buoyhunter_190 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/02/06
Posts: 132
Loc: WI
If you think about each answer I bet they all play into it. Since I have only been in 2 lighthouses and they had open stairs I can't see if there is more or less light in a closed stair lighthouse.

I'm not sure if a closed stair would make the climb any easier from the fear of heights. Regardless it's a steep circular climb.

So far the white question and the stair question are the only two questions I laid in bed wondering so someone else will have to come up with the next brain thinking question.

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#33333 - 01/02/08 03:50 PM Re: Why are stairs open?
ericlighthouse Offline
Super Wacko

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 2189
Loc: Orlando, Fl.
Air circulation was a big concern before electricity. You want a draft to make the smoke go up and out of the tower.
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#33334 - 01/02/08 07:19 PM Re: Why are stairs open?
beachcomber Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/01
Posts: 2904
Loc: Houston, TX, USA
Terrific question! And all of these are very good points which probably contribute to the why's of making the stairwells as they did. Old Point Comfort has solid stairs. That one seemed particularly confining. Although it does have some windows, it was darker than most. (By the way, I had beautiful blooms from the daylilies last year. whistling ) On that same trip, we saw Old Cape Henry. I believe that one also had stone and/or brick stairs. AND it also seemed more dark and dank despite the windows. The ole memory keeps slipping away, but, if it's not failing right now, it seems that some of those towers that have solid stairs also don't have banisters to hold on to! I am terribly afraid of heights but do okay where there is something to hold onto.

On another note, Ocracoke is not particularly high (and we didn't get to climb it), but I did not like that the stairwell was in the middle of the tower - with my fears, that makes me worry about stability - although I'm sure that it is very secure. eek It also has those see-through stairs and no wall to hug!

Buoyhunter, the Wackos take a lot of great trips; you should plan on joining the group the next time a trip comes up. You get to see a lot of lights and share in the wealth of information that many of the members here have accumulated throughout the years. I've learned a whole lot from them! laugh
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