The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Florida Forgotten Coast Lighthouse Tour

It seems as though lighthouses are getting a lot of interest lately.  In our tour of Florida's Forgotten Coast a couple of weeks ago, we found out that there are four unique and historic lighthouses within a short distance of each other.  They would be an easy day trip from either Panama City or Tallahassee but a better idea is to take them in while RVing in this pretty area.  (photos courtesy of Lighthouse Friends)

St Marks Lighthouse


The original St Marks Lighthouse was completed in 1831 and survived the Second Seminole Indian War in 1835.  Erosion was threatening it by 1842 and the original builder, Winslow Lewis was contracted to move the tower to a safer location.  A new tower was constructed on a site further inland.  The Confederates attempted to blow the lighthouse up during their retreat in 1865 so it couldn't be used as a lookout by Union forces.  They inflicted considerable damage and a rebuild was necessary after the war.  It was heightened to 82 feet above sea level and the original lighting apparatus was restored.  It was automated in 1960 and is used today for navigation for vessels on the Apalachee Bay.


 The St Marks Lighthouse is located within a 70,000 acre wildlife refuge.  There are hiking trails, a Visitor Center open 7 days a week, restrooms and a picnic area.  It is located at the end of County Road 59, south of U.S. 98 at Newport FL.


Crooked River Lighthouse


The Crooked River Lighthouse was build in 1895 to replace the Dog Island lighthouse that was destroyed in an `873 hurricane.  It is a 103 foot cast iron skeletal tower with 138 steps from the gournd to the lantern room.  It was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1995.  Although it was on the National Register of Historic Places, the Coast Guard was going to auction it off.  The Carrabelle Lighthouse Association was formed in 1999 to preserve and restore the lighthouse.  The Florida Lighthouse Association, Florida Communities Trust, and Florida Legislature appropriations made it possible to restore the tower and create a visitors park.


There is a covered picnic pavilion, playground equipment including a 70ft replica of a pirate ship (Carrabella), and a wooded conservation site as well as a Keeper's House Museum.  The lighthouse is located at 1975 Hwy 98 West, approximately 2 miles west of downtown Carrabelle.


Cape St George Light


There have actually been three St George Lighhouses.  The first was built in 1833 at West Pass, the second was rebuilt on Cape St. George in 1848 and lasted until an 1851 hurricane.  The third lighthouse was completed in 1852, automated in 1949, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.  It was deactivated by the Coast Guard in 1994 and collapsed from erosion in 2005.  Remnants were salvaged and the St George Lighthouse Assn led efforts to reconstruct it.  Volunteers cleaned old mortar off more than 22,000 original bricks and assisted with reconstruction of the lantern room.  It was successfully reconstructed at the center of St George Island in 2008.  The Lighthouse park includes a Visitors Center and Museum, picnic pavilions, showers, restrooms, and a boardwalk to the beach.    From U.S. 98 in Eastpoint, take State Road 300 (Island Drive) and cross the 4.2 mile bridge to St George Island.


Cape San Blas Lighthouse


The first lighouse at Cape San Blas near Port St. Joe was erected in 1849.  It was an 85 foot conical brick tower designed to warn ships about the dangerous shoal at the Cape.  After being destroyed by storms in 1851, replaced in 1856 and destroyed shortly after, a third tower was built in 1857.  It was damaged during the Civil War but survived until beach erosion toppled it in `1882.  In 1883, it was replaced by a 98 foot cast iron skeletal tower that supported the watch room and lantern at the top.  In 1918, it was moved a quarter of a mile to its current location.  The Keepers Quarters were completed in 1905 and resotred in 1999 and 2005.


There is a gift shop and mini museum.  Traveling south of Port St. Joe several miles west of Apalachicola, Highway 30A makes a sharp 90 degree turn.  Go west onto Highway 30E (Cape San Blas Road).  Go past Test Area D-3 about 2.7 miles.  When the road bends right, turn left onto Cape San Blas Lighthouse Road.

You never know what you'll find when you visit an area unless you look for it.  If you like lighthouses, don't miss these along the Forgotten Coast.

4 comments:

  1. Very informative post Colleen! Love that the lighthouses are being restored. Especially loved the photo of St. Marks with the reflection of it in the water :)

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  2. We first toured this region last November, but missed the lighthouses. We're hoping to return this year, so we'll add them to our list of things to do. Thanks for the info!

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  3. I've seen these lighthouses, though it was years ago. When we were RVing, we had decided that we would try to see as many lighthouses as we could--they always have such interesting histories. We were also going to take pictures of wooden silos because we felt they wouldn't be standing forever--just like some of the beautiful barns in this country.

    Great that you're so young and living the good life. Pats to Willy, Harley, and Gretchen.

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  4. You are the best tour guide around my friend! Thanks for the tour.

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Thanks for commenting.