Lighthouses of Florida: a Little History, a Lot of Fun
In honor of Florida Lighthouse Day (April 21) I've compiled a list of some of my favorite Florida Lighthouses. There are so many to choose from. Each is unique and towering with history and beauty.
First built in 1825 this lighthouse (the oldest structure in Dade County) withstood battles and hurricanes but its light was extinguished in 1878 when another nearby lighthouse came into service. It has since been restored and in 1978 it was relit – 100 years to the date that it went dark. Open year round.
The first-order Fresnel lens was first lit in July 1860 at this red brick lighthouse that stands at 115 feet in height. Interestingly the light was extinguished the entire duration of the Civil War by the Confederates who buried the lens in Jupiter Creek (to hinder the guidance of Yankee blockade ships)!
It's open year round and its red exterior makes for gorgeous photographs against blue skies.
After the U.S. Coastguard determined this lighthouse was not needed for navigation in 1970 the Key West Art & Historical Society purchased it and restored it. It stands 65 feet tall and houses a third-order Fresnel lens.
Climb 203 steps to the top of Florida’s tallest lighthouse. At 175 feet it’s second in height only to Cape Hatteras on the East Coast! It was first lit in 1887 and the name was shortened from Ponce de Leon Inlet in 1963. The lighthouse has been painstakingly restored along with the keepers’ dwellings and is open year round. There are natural trails and a gift shop to explore.
It’s 177 steps to the top of this 150 foot-tall lighthouse first lit on New Year’s Day 1859. It had only been in service for two years when the Civil War erupted here and Confederate soldiers hid its Fresnal lens (so Unions ships couldn’t navigate)! The lighthouse’s first-order revolving Fresnel lens has a focal plane of 191 feet – the highest in Florida. You can even watch the Blue Angels practice from the top.
This has to be the most photographed lighthouse in Florida with its black and white spirals and red roof. It stands 165 feet and the first-order lens was first lit in October 1874. The lighthouse and museum are open year round. They have fantastic full moon tours. Call 904-829-0745.
First lit by whale-oil lamps in 1831 you can find this automated beacon at the mouth of the St. Marks River south of Tallahassee. It’s farther inland than its original location; the tower had to be dismantled and moved when erosion threatened the foundation. Although the grounds are open to the public the tower that stands 82 feet above sea level is open for tours only on a limited basis.