Saturday, March 04, 2006
In 1823, a $5,000 government grant was established and the current limestone tower was converted by contractor Elias Wallen into Florida's first lighthouse by 1824.
During the Civil War, Confederate sympathizers removed the lens in St. Augustine's light tower. The tower was not re-lit again until 1867.
During the next 30 years, mariners constantly complained that the light tower did not provide the visibility they needed. After a series of fruitless corrective actions, coupled with the increasing threat of land erosion near the lighthouse, the lighthouse board provided new funds for a new lighthouse to be built in 1871.
Paul Petz, who designed the Library of Congress, undertook the building of this new lighthouse and created a 165-foot tower with a first-order Fresnel lens. The new lighthouse was completed in 1874.
In 1898, St. Augustine's lighthouse was used as a lookout tower in the Spanish-American War. The light keeper of St. Augustine's served as the lookout and had signal flags and a telephone line that ran to the customs house to send an alert if needed.
Likewise, the lighthouse had an involvement in both World Wars. It was dimmed in World War I so as not to aid German U-boats in finding American ships to sink.
In World War II, the tower was used as a lookout as a team of light keepers worked around the clock from the top of the tower.
Ordered by General James Oglethorpe, Governor of the 13th colony, in 1732, the Tybee Island Light Station has been guiding mariners safe entrance into the Savannah River for over 270 years.
The Tybee Island Light Station is one of America's most intact lighthouse stations having all of its historic support buildings.
Rebuilt several times the current lightstation displays its 1916 day mark with 178 stairs and a First Order Fresnel lens (nine feet tall)