ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Cape St. George Lighthouse, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Cape St. George Lighthouse, Florida
Cape St. George Lighthouse
The beautifully restored lighthouse is now a key
attraction and point of interest at the central
crossroads of St. George Island, Florida.
Cape St. George Lighthouse
Demolished by a Gulf storm
in 2005, the lighthouse has
risen again thanks to a major
historic preservation effort.
The Climb to the Top
It takes 92 steps and then a
climb up ladder to reach the
lantern room, but the view
from the top is worth it!
Cape St. George Lighthouse - St. George Island, Florida
Towering over Apalachicola Bay
View from the Lantern Room
The top of Cape St. George
Lighthouse provides a 360
degree view of St. George
Island and the Florida coast.
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
One of the most remarkable and treasured
sights on the Florida coast is to see the
Cape St. George Lighthouse rising above the
palms on
St. George Island.

The beautiful old lighthouse, built in 1852,
was demolished by wind and wave on Friday,
October 21, 2005. It had been the focus of a
historic preservation effort for years and while
many might have given up the fight, the St.
George Lighthouse Association refused to
surrender. And just three years later, the
Cape St. George Lighthouse rose again, this
time at the central intersection of St. George
Island.

The history of the Cape St. George Light is
rich and fascinating. The cape had long been
a hazardous place for ships and the mouth of
the Apalachicola River was difficult to find. As
early as 1722 the Spanish had stationed a
lieutenant and a few men at a "country
house" somewhere on the bay to help guide
travelers.  

As the port of
Apalachicola boomed following
the transfer of Florida from Spain to the
United States in 1821, the U.S. Government
quickly realized the need for improvements.
This was manifested in the construction of
the first Cape St. George Lighthouse in 1833.

This lighthouse was destroyed by a storm in
1846 and replaced with a second structure in
1848. The second one lasted only three
years until it too was destroyed by the deadly
hurricane of 1851.

The third Cape St. George Lighthouse was
completed in 1852 on what is now Little St.
George Island (separated from the main
island by a man-made "cut" or channel in
1954). This structure stood until it fell in 2005.

Confederate forces darkened the light in
1861, taking the lantern and lenses up the
river to
Eufaula, Alabama, to prevent the
beacon from assisting Union blockade ships
in their efforts to patrol the entrances to
Apalachicola Bay. When Southern troops
withdrew from Apalachicola in early 1862, the
Union navy began using St. George Island as
a place to set foot on dry land.

Sailors scaled the lighthouse and used it as
a lookout point, a function it served off and on
until the end of the war in 1865. It took a few
months to recover the lantern and lens so the
lighthouse was not lighted again until August
of that year.

The Cape St. George Lighthouse was
automated in 1949, but continued to send its
beacon out until 1992. It was 140 years old
that year when Hurricane Andrew tore away
much of the beach around the tower. The
Coast Guard deactivated it two years later.
Hurricane Opal struck the Florida coast in
1995, doing heavy damage to the lighthouse.
The tower was shifted from its foundation
and the beach swept away. The storm left the
lighthouse leaning by 7 degrees.

A major preservation effort was launched and
the lighthouse was stabilized and restored,
but sadly the Gulf was not finished with its
attack on the historic tower. By 2005 the
beach surrounding the Cape St. George
Lighthouse had been swept away, leaving
the tower standing out in the water. It finally
collapsed on October 21, 2005.

Its history, however, was far from over. The
St. George Lighthouse Association moved
into action and, assisted by the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection,
salvaged the pieces of the lighthouse. By 208
it had been completely reconstructed and
now towers over the beaches.

The Cape St. George Lighthouse is located
where S.R. 300 dead ends after crossing the
bay and arriving on the island. It is open to
the public and visitors can climb to the top to
view the coast from the lantern room.

It is open Friday through Monday from noon
until 5 p.m. (closed Thursdays). Admission is
$5 for adults, $3 for kids under 16 and free
for kids under 6.

Please click here to visit the official website
for more information.