Tucked away down peaceful streets in a residential neighborhood stands the oldest existing lighthouse in Florida, the Amelia Island Lighthouse. Built in 1838, this historic structure has not only been a lifesaver for nearly 200 years, but also an important landmark for Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island.
For 132 years a light keeper maintained the light and now that it is automated, its light currently flashes every ten seconds as a beacon signaling the entrance to the St. Mary’s River.
History of the Lighthouse
The Amelia Island Lighthouse was strategically placed in its current location due to its high elevation in comparison to the rest of Amelia Island. Prior to the construction of this beacon, the Cumberland Island Lighthouse in nearby coastal Georgia was being dismantled and given $7,500 from Congress to move it. Therefore the bricks from this location were used to build the Amelia Island Lighthouse.
Upon completion in 1839, the Amelia Island Lighthouse soared 50 feet into the sky. By 1881, it was decided that the lighthouse needed to be a bit taller to serve the coastal areas of Fernandina Beach. A lantern was added to the tower making it 67 feet in height.
The first keeper of the lighthouse was Amos Latham and surprisingly, one of the last keepers of the lighthouse was Thomas O’Hagan and his spouse was a descendant of Latham. In 1970 the light became automated making the need for a light keeper unnecessary.
Following automation the Coast Guard serviced the light until 2001, when the historic landmark was awarded to the City of Fernandina Beach.
For more information about the interesting history of the Amelia Island Lighthouse, please visit https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=346.
Visiting the Ligthouse
The Amelia Island Lighthouse is located at 215 O’Hagan Lane. The public is able to tour the grounds of the historic lighthouse on Saturdays from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. To explore the interior of the Amelia Island Lighthouse limited availability is open on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday’s of the month at 10:00 a.m. for the bus departure to the location. Although the tour does not permit visitors to climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse.
For more information about visiting the Amelia Island Lighthouse, please visit https://www.fbfl.us/474/Amelia-Island-Lighthouse-Tour.
Thanks for reading and as always, “Keep on truckin!'”-Violet Sky