Amelia Island Lighthouse - Fernandina Beach, Florida
Amelia Island Lighthouse - Fernandina Beach, Florida
Amelia Island Lighthouse
The white tower of the Amelia Island Lighthouse
rises above the marshes on the northern end of
Amelia Island, Florida
Amelia Island Lightouse
Located in Fernandina Beach,
the historic lighthouse has
actually stood on two different
islands in two different states!
View across the Marsh
The best way to see the
lighthouse on a daily basis is
from the observation deck at
Fort Clinch State Park.
Amelia Island Lighthouse - Fernandina Beach, Florida
A Lighthouse of Two States
Copyright 2013 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: April 24, 2014
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Lighthouses of the South
Amelia Island Lighthouse
The tower originally stood on
neighboring Cumberland
Island, Georgia, but was
moved brick by brick to Amelia
Island in 1838.
Lighthouse Overlook
The overlook at Fort Clinch
State Park offers a beautiful
view of the lighthouse tower
from across Egans Creek
The Amelia Island Lighthouse stands on the
northern tip of the island for which it is
named in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

The lighthouse is unique among all others in
America because it has actually stood on two
different islands in two different states! It is
still operational and its grounds are open to
the public only on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to
2 p.m.

The Amelia Island Lighthouse was originally
built in a different place and with a different
name. In 1802, when the Georgia General
Assembly gave six acres on the southern
point of neighboring Cumberland Island to
the U.S. Government, Amelia Island was part
of Spanish Florida and Cumberland was the
southeastern most tip of the United States.

The mouth of the St. Mary's River was
growing in importance as a harbor due to the
growing port community of St. Mary's just
inland and across the river from Amelia
Island. The reservation given to the Federal
government by Georgia was designated for
use in building a lighthouse to guide ships
into the harbor.

Originally called the Cumberland Island
Lighthouse, the tower was completed by
Winslow Lewis in 1820, one year before
Florida was ceded by Spain to the United
States. Even though Amelia Island was then
Spanish territory, U.S. troops occupied the
island at the time the lighthouse was
finished as part of a limited invasion
intended to crack down on piracy and slave

Over the next 18 years, the Cumberland
Island Lighthouse guided ships into the twin
harbors of St. Mary's and Fernandina. By
1838, however, changes in the channel at the
mouth of the river had rendered the tower
useless since it could no longer be seen
from the harbor entrance.

To remedy this situation, Congress
authorized an expenditure of $7,500 in 1838
to disassemble the tower and move it across
the river to a hill on Amelia Island.

The project was successful and the former
Cumberland Island Lighthouse soon
became the Amelia Island Lighthouse. In its
first twenty years of existence, it had stood on
two islands and in two states.

When the beacon resumed operation on
Amelia Island under the direction of keeper
Amos Latham, it was much improved as a
navigational landmark. While the tower itself
is only 64-feet tall, the hill on which it stands
provides extra elevation so that the light
actually shines from a height of 107 feet.

The lens was upgraded to a third-order
Fresnel in 1856 and two years later a beacon
light was installed across Egans Creek
Marsh near Fort Clinch. The ruins of that light
complex can still be seen at Fort Clinch State

The improvements were timed to coincide
with David Levy Yulee's development of the
Florida Railroad. Having served as the first
Jewish member of the United States Senate,
Yulee chartered his railroad in 1853 and it
was completed on March 1, 1861.

Levy's trains ran completely across Florida
from Fernandina to Cedar Key. The access to
rail transportation might well have turned
both cities into major port facilities had it not
been for the War Between the States (or Civil
War). Just two six after Yulee's first train
pulled into Fernandina, Confederate forces
fired on Fort Sumter.
The lighthouses at Amelia Island and on
Seahorse Key near Cedar Key were
darkened by the Confederacy and Yulee's
trains did little more than move troops and
supplies for a time before Union forces
occupied both terminals.

Fortunately, since there was no major
fighting on Amelia Island, the lighthouse was
spared significant damage during the war. It
was returned to operation and resumed its
purpose of providing safe navigation for
ships coming into the harbor.

The lantern room was replaced in 1881 and
a brick oil house was built near the tower's
base in 1890. The lighthouse keeper at the
time was Dewayne W. Suydam who retired in
1891 having missed only one night of work in
20 years.

Although it originally was powered using oil,
the Amelia Island Lighthouse was electrified
in the 1930s. It was automated in 1970 and
restored in 2004 by Worth Contracting, Inc.,
for the City of Fernandina Beach.

The lighthouse grounds are not open to the
public on a daily basis. Tours are offered on
the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month. To
reserve spots, please call the Atlantic
Recreation Center at (904) 277-7350. The
fee is $5 for adults and $3 for kids under 12.
The buses for the tours leave from the center
parking lot at 2500 Atlantic Avenue in
Fernandina Beach.
Click here for details.

The grounds of the lighthouse can be visited
on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors
are not allowed to climb the tower.

The lighthouse grounds are CLOSED TO
THE PUBLIC every other day of the week.

The best place to see the lighthouse during
the rest of the week is from the overlook at
Fort Clinch State Park.  The overlook is
accessed by a short paved walkway and
includes interpretive signs that tell about the
lighthouse as well as the natural life that
abounds in the Egans Creek Marsh.

Fort Clinch State Park is located at  2601
Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach.
click here to learn more.
Fort Clinch State Park

Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park

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