Pass Manchac Light


Historic Name: Pass Manchac Light
Other Names: Lake Pontchartrain Light House
Address: Western End Lake Pontchartrain (South Pass)
City:  Ponchatoula vicinity
Parish:  Tangipahoa
State: LA
Status:  National Register
Date Placed on National Register: 7/9/1986
Level of Significance: State
Area of Significance:  Architecture
Property Type: Light House
Architectural Style: No Style
Theme: Anglo-American Architecture

A masonry tower built in 1859. The light has a 250mm plastic lens mounted on the lantern gallery and powered by batteries. It has been unmanned for a number of years and upkeep has been minimal. It is still used as an automated aid to navigation.

1. Appropriate Dimensions – base 20 ft. to top, 40 ft. above sea level

2. Material construction – brick

3. Form of Lighthouse – Brick cylindrical

4. Type of Illuminate and Lens – ESNA 250 mm

5. Color of Lighthouse – White

6. No Special Signaling devices

7. No Additional Structures

8. No Alterations to existing lighthouse

9. No special features



The Pass Manchac Lighthouse is significant because of its architecture. Its design embodies the distinctive

characteristics of a type and method of construction common to the 1850’s. It is the only lighthouse of its design in the Gulf Coast region. Its level of significance is at the state level.

Pass Manchac, like the Rigolets, is a narrow neck of water. It connects Western Lake Pontchartrain to Lake Maurepas.

A lighthouse was authorized for $6,000 in 1834 and was completed in 1837.

This tower was rebuilt in 1846 and stood 32 feet high, elevating the lens 34 feet above sea level. The steady red light with nine lamps was visible for 13 miles. The first three lighthouses were built on the same general site. The first two were apparently brick towers. The third was a dwelling with a light centered on top.

The third lighthouse, begun in 1857, held its light 45 feet above sea level but was visible only 10 miles. The light was first exhibited in February 1859, with a Fourth order lens. Built just prior to “the rebellion” the structure was heavily damaged by armies of both sides. The damage probably led tot he building of the fourth and present Pass Manchac lighthouse.

The keeper’s dwelling which was attached to the light was razed in 1952 and only the foundation remains.

The fourth tower is still active, although the original lens is no longer in use. A 250 mm plastic lens mounted on the lantern gallery and powered by batteries now guides shipping to the pass.

There are no other structures of its kind in the Eight Coast Guard District.


Lighthouses and Lightships of the Northern Gulf Coast

Department of Transportation, U. S. Coast Guard