JUPITER INLET LIGHTHOUSE
Jupiter Lighthouse Park
The Florida Lighthouse Board in 1852 recommended that a lighthouse be built near Jupiter Inlet to make the lower coast safer for ships and help mariners avoid the dangerous shoal offshore where the Loxahatchee River flows to the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1853 the lighthouse site chosen was part of the Fort Jupiter reservation established during the First Seminole War in 1836. George G. Meade, the Union general who defeated General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg, designed the tower.
The main difficulty in building the lighthouse was the shutting of the inlet by silt in 1854, which forced workers to send 500 tons of construction materials down the Indian River in shallow boats. The Third Seminole War suspended work at the site from 1856 to 1858 and resulted in constructing the keeper's house of thick coquina walls and an inside well so keeper's could withstand an Indian siege. Heat, insects, and moisture hampered the construction of the lighthouse. In 1860, after an expense of more than $60,000 for supplies and labor, the lamp was lit just before the Civil War.
The U.S. government established a life-saving station near the lighthouse in 1886 to rescue people in distress at sea.
The conical tower was left a natural brick color for the first 50 years, but dampness discolored the brick to such an extent that it was painted red around 1910.
In 1928 engineers substituted electricity for the old mineral oil lamps and cumbersome weights and installed a diesel generator in case of power failure. In the same year a hurricane struck the tower, smashed one of the bull's-eyes, and disabled the emergency diesel generator. The keeper had to reinstall the old mineral lamps and turn the light by hand. During the hurricane, the tower swayed 17 inches from the vertical. The damaged bull's-eye was sent to Charleston to be reassembled and held together with a band of brass.
The 105' red tower stands 146' above sea level, has a light that can be seen 25 miles at sea, and has walls that taper from 31" thick at the base to 18" near the top.
LIGHTHOUSE - 105' / OPEN - Sunday-Wednesday 10AM to 4PM / MUSEUM - Yes / FEE - $6.00