Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sanibel Island Lighthouse

The Sanibel Island Light is the first lighthouse on Florida's Gulf coast north of Key West and the Dry Tortugas. It is located on the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, and was built to mark the entrance to San Carlos Bay for ships calling at the port of Punta Rassa, across San Carlos Bay from Sanibel Island.

Residents of Sanibel Island first petitioned for a lighthouse in 1833, but no action was taken. In 1856 the Lighthouse Board recommended a lighthouse on Sanibel Island, but Congress took no action. In 1877 government workers surveyed the eastern end of the island and Congress finally appropriated funds for a lighthouse in 1883. The foundation for the new lighthouse was completed in early 1884, but the ship bringing ironwork for the tower sank two miles (3 km) from Sanibel Island. A crew of hard-hat divers from Key West recovered all but two of the pieces for the tower.
Punta Rassa became an important port in the 1830s and remained so up to the Spanish-American War. It was primarily used to ship cattle from Florida to Cuba until the railroads reached the area in the 1880s.

The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The Coast Guard leases the light station site to the city of Sanibel, Florida.

Sanibel Lighthouse Research

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