ALLIGATOR REEF LIGHTHOUSE
Four miles east of Indian Key
Alligator Reef Light derived its name from the 1822 wreck of the U.S.S. Alligator, a small man-of-war dispatched by Congress to combat piracy in Florida waters.
The nine-legged white tower, capped by a black lantern 136' above the sea, was completed eight years after the Civil War. A 2,000-pound steam-driven pile-driver drove each piling into the coral at the rate of one inch per blow, providing a foundation that has lasted more than 100 years. Standing in five feet of water about 200 yards from the deep-water Gulf Stream, the tower was completed in 1873 at a cost of $185,000.
The tower withstood the 200-mile-per-hour 1935 hurricane that killed 400 people in the Keys with a 20' storm wave, but of the three keepers in the tower, two died in a rescue attempt and the third went mad from fright.
Automated in 1963, the light is visible 15 nautical miles at sea.
LIGHTHOUSE - 136' / OPEN - Access prohibited / MUSEUM - No / FEE - No