Created as navigational tools, lighthouses are of interest to more than mariners; the ruggedly romantic nature of the beacons delights and enthralls thousand of admirers. Lights along the Virginia coast are no exception, from the richly historic Old Cape Henry Light, authorized by President George Washington in 1789, to the candy-striped Assateague Light on the state's Eastern Shore. Of equal interest are the tales of the men of the United States Life-Saving Service, the forerunner of today's Coast Guard. Spaced along the shore, they aided navigation by responding selflessly to ships in distress, often at their own peril. Many of their quaint, beach cottage–style stations are lost, others preserved.