Tybee Island Lighthouse - Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island Lighthouse - Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island Lighthouse
Officially the Tybee Island Light Station, the
beloved lighthouse is part of a historic complex that
is one of the nation's best preserved light stations.
Tybee Island Lighthouse
The lower 60 feet of the tower
was built two years before the
American Revolution! The rest
dates from after the Civil War.
Through the Dunes
The beautiful old Tybee Island
Lighthouse rises high above
the wide beaches of the
island and is seen here
framed by sea oats.
Tybee Island Lighthouse - Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island Light Station
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: February 25, 2013
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Lighthouses of the South
Tybee Island Light Station
The historic complex is now
maintained as a museum
and is open to the public daily.
Fort Screven Historic District
The lighthouse rises above
an array of concrete and steel
artillery batteries that were
built to defend Savannah
during the Spanish-American
One of America's most historic lighthouses,
the Tybee Island Lighthouse rises high
above the northern end of
Tybee Island,

The idea of a light station on Tybee Island to
help guide ships into the mouth of the
Savannah River dates back to Georgia's
founder, General James Oglethorpe. Shortly
after his arrival at Yamacraw Bluff (Savannah)
on February 12, 1733, he directed the
building of a "day mark" on Tybee Island to
mark the channel leading to his new city.

The first lighthouse  on the site was built in
1736 by Noble Jones, who also established
nearby Wormsloe Plantation. Eight-sided
and built of brick and cedar, the tower stood
90 feet high and was the tallest man-made
structure in America at the time.

The first tower, however, was not built to last
and within five years it was already beginning
to deteriorate. Construction was underway on
a replacement structure when a storm
demolished the Jones' tower in 1741.

The second lighthouse was completed the
following year and stood 94 feet tall. The sea
slowly eroded it away, however, and in 1768
the Georgia Assembly approved the building
of a new 100 foot structure. It was completed
in 1773, two years before the "shot heard
round the world" opened the American

The bottom 60 feet of today's lighthouse were
part of this 1773 structure. It survived not only
the American Revolution, but the War of 1812
and countless storms and hurricanes as

Originally owned by the colony of Georgia, the
Tybee Island Lighthouse remained under the
control of Georgia authorities until 1790
when the state ratified the United States
Constitution and it was turned over to federal

The lighthouse was modernized over the
years and, as part of its planned defenses of
Savannah, the U.S. government built a small
fort or Martello tower nearby during the
antebellum era. A Second Order Fresnel lens
was installed atop the tower in 1857 to
increase its range and visibility.

State forces again took control of the Tybee
Lighthouse in 1861 when Georgia seceded
from the Union. Confederate soldiers used it
as an observation post, but evacuated the
island and set fire to the wooden parts of the
tower ahead of an amphibious attack by
Union forces.

The top of the tower was severely damaged
by the fire, but the lighthouse itself survived
the massive battle that reduced nearby
Pulaski in April 1862. A temporary beacon
was placed at the top, but it was obvious that
a rebuilding of the structure would be

When the Civil War ended, engineers
supervised the removal of the top 40 feet of
the lighthouse. The bottom 60 feet of the
1773 tower was found to be solid and was
used to provide a base for the structure that
still can be seen today. The rebuilt tower was
completely fireproof.
As part of the rebuilding project, a First Order
Fresnel lens was installed. The light was
electrified in 1933. The lens of the structure
is so efficient that it magnifies a 1000 watt
bulb so much that it an be seen 18 miles out
to sea.

The Tybee Island Lighthouse still performs
its navigational role today, but also is part of
a beautifully resorted light station complex. In
addition to offering museum exhibits, a gift
shop and other amenities, the Tybee Island
Light Station and Museum also lets visitors
climb the 178 steps to the top of the tower for
a spectacular view of the Georgia coast.

Today's structure stands 154 feet tall and is
the tallest lighthouse on the Georgia coast. It
is maintained under the direction of the
Tybee Island Historical Society.

The Tybee Island Lighthouse is open to the
public daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with the
last tickets sold at 4:30 p.m. The cost to visit
is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors (62+), $7 for
children (6-17) and $7 for military (must
show ID). Members of the U.S. Coast Guard
are admitted free with an ID.

The lighthouse is located on Tybee Island,
18 miles east of Savannah. Take Highway
East from Savannah to Tybee and then turn
left onto Campbell Avenue at the first stop
light. Campbell will dead end at Van Horne.
Turn left onto Van Horne and then take the
first right onto Meddin Drive. It will take you to
the lighthouse.

The street address is 30 Meddin Dr., Tybee
Island, GA 31328.

Please visit
www.tybeelighthouse.org for
more information.