Historic Structures

Sand Key Lighthouse,

Date added: March 16, 2018 Categories: Florida Lighthouse

This is one of the most important lights on the coast of the United States. It was first lighted on July 20, 1853, and is the second oldest of the six iron screw pile light houses which extend from Fowey Rocks to Sand Key to mark off-shore keys, shoals, and reefs which are hazardous to coastal shipping. It is the only one of these lights not standing entirely in water.

The original brick conical tower, keeper's quarters, dock, etc., were completely destroyed in the hurricane of 18U6. A light ship was stationed here until 1853, when the iron work tower was completed. J.W.P. Lewis who designed this tower was one of the most noted American designers of lighthouses. Lt. George B. Meade, in charge of the construction, was also responsible for Carysfort Light. Ten years later he was in command of the Union forces at Gettysburg.

The structure is a pyramidal skeletal tower, with enclosed spiral stair and rectangular dwelling, built on 17 pilings of wrought iron 8" in diameter, with heli-coidal screws which were bored into the sand and coral 10 feet below the water. Exterior pilings rest on cast iron disks 4 feet in diameter on a bed of concrete. The tower stands 132 feet above sea level.

Sand Key Light House is typical of those lights built circa 185O to mark off-shore keys, shoals and reefs which were hazardous to coastal shipping. The light house is composed of keeper's quarters, spiral stairway to an observation platform and the watch room and lantern housing. A skeletal tower of inclined cast iron pipe columns with wrought iron tension and compression members supports these elements.