Florida Lighthouse Association, Inc.

Preserving, Restoring, Protecting & Defending Florida's Lighthouse Towers

Cape San Blas Lighthouse

Photo: Stan Beckstrom

Photo: E.A. "Tim" Besse


Active: No

Characteristics: White flash every twenty seconds (originally); none (currently).

Height: 96 feet, 138 steps

DayMark: White square pyramidal skeletal tower enclosing stair column and black lantern

History: Contructed in 1885. First Lighted: June 30, 1885. Deactivated Jan 18, 1996

Lens: Original: 1859 third-order revolving Fresnel lens from old tower. Present: Third-order bivalve lens; Barbier, Benard st Turenne (1906) complete with original colockworks and weight. Focal Plane: 101 feet.

Construction: Builder: Phoenix Ironworks. Iron skeletal tower constructed of concrete and iron pilings.

Other Buildings: Two keeper's dwellings, brick oil storage house.

Operated by: Eglin Air Force Base

Visit Status: Restored Keeper's Quarters is now open and contains a gift shop.

The tower is open for climbing only on Friday and Saturday.  $5.00 each, child under ten free with adult.

Facilities: Gift shop.

Visitor Info: Located on a part of Eglin Air Force Base. The keepers' dwellings were moved to safety from destruction by erosion in the summer of 1999, and one dwelling has been restored. It contains the gift shop, and a mini museum is being constructed on the second floor. The lighthouse is adjacent to the keeper's quarters.

History: Cape San Blas has the distinction of having had the most lighthouse towers on it's site of any location in Florida, the present tower being the fourth at this location. You might say that the Cape San Blas was the hard luck light.  The original 65 foot brick tower was built in 1848 and was destroyed by a hurricane only three years later. A second brick tower was completed in 1855 and fell to a hurricane only 10 months later. A third brick tower equipped with a third order lens was completed and lit in May of 1859. During the Civil War the Confederate Army burned the keepers quarters and all the other buildings to prevent their use by the Union forces, but the light tower survived. The Confederate lighthouse superintendent had removed the lamp and clockwork apparatus before the attack. The lamp was reinstalled and relit on July 15, 1866. The Gulf waters eroded the land from around the tower until it stood in 8 feet of water, and the lighthouse keeper had to row out to the light. On July 3, 1882 the tower fell into the sea.

It was decided to replace the light with a steel skeletal tower, however, the ship delivering the supplies sank off Sanibel Island. Fortunately, the ship went down in shallow waters and the tower was reclaimed. On June 30, 1885 the new tower was lit using the third order lens from the previous tower. Incessant erosion continued to threaten the tower, and in 1918 it was dismantled and moved about a quarter mile to it's present location. The light was discontinued on January 18, 1996.

Website:  www.capesanblaslight.org,

Mailing address:

St. Joseph Historical Society, Inc.

P. O. Box 231

Port St. Joe, FL 32457


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