Cape San Blas Lighthouse
Located in Port St. Joe, Florida, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse has stood tall guiding ships since the late 1800s. Check out the 360-degree panoramic virtual tour I put together below.
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Equipment used to capture the 360-degree panoramic images:
About the Cape San Blas Lighthouse
The below text is from the CapeSanBlasLight.org website. To learn more about the lighthouse, please visit their website.
In 1883, the Lighthouse Board approved the erection of a skeletal tower. The “skeletal” lighthouse has eight cast iron legs that support the “watch room” and lantern at the top of the tower. The legs are bolted into a concrete foundation. This type of construction allowed less resistance to wind-and-wave action and reduced the weight of the structure on the soft, sandy earth. Access to the lantern is up a central, cast-iron-plate cylinder with a spiral metal stairway.
The skeletal tower was built in the north and sent by ship to the Cape; however, on the west coast of Florida, the ship sank losing its precious cargo. Because the water was relatively shallow, most of the tower was salvaged and shipped on to its destination. The third-order Fresnel lens was lit in June 1885.
The new 98-foot skeletal tower was erected 1500 feet from the shore, but by 1890, the erosion had left only 144 feet of land between the tower and the Gulf. Before it could be moved again, a powerful storm hit October 8 and 9, 1894, leaving the tower damaged and standing in water.
The decision was made to move the lighthouse to Black’s Island but funds ran out before the move was completed. The Lighthouse Board decided to move the tower inland, but because the sand had begun to build up in the area, it was decided to take no action at the time.
Manufactured in 1905 by Rarbier Benard & Ture in France, the third-order bi-valve (or “clamshell”) lens is made of over two hundred cast-glass prisms, each hand polished to optic quality and precise dimensions. The prisms are set into a bronze frame. At 101 feet above sea level, the electric beacon could be seen for 16 miles as it flashed white for one second every twenty seconds.
In 1916 a hurricane hit the area and plans were once again made to move the tower inland. In 1918 it was moved one-quarter mile inland and the light was lit on January 22, 1919. The brick oil storage building has survived and can be seen on the grounds at its new home.
Until 1952, the property was solely used as a site for the lighthouse. The Coast Guard, part of the Department of Transportation, assumed custody of approximately one-third of the peninsula. They also assumed responsibility for the operation of the LORAN station and lighthouse. The lighthouse station was used as a manned LORAN Station until 1972 when it was automated.
The keeper’s quarters were left unattended for several years and began to deteriorate. In 1996 the lighthouse was deactivated, and two years later, the dwelling that was closest to the shore received considerable damage from Hurricane Earl.
In 1999, after the Air Force assumed responsibility for the keeper’s dwellings, the two structures were moved to a site near the tower. The dwelling that was in the best condition was restored at that time for use by the US Air Force, while the second dwelling had to wait until 2005 when Sleeping Beauty was awakened by her Prince and once more became alive and a vibrant reminder of life at a Keepers’ Quarters in the early 20th century.
The United States Air Force closed the Cape San Blas Lighthouse District on October 12, 2012, due to the continued rapid erosion of the coastline.
On December 14, 2012, the United States Air Force had the two Keepers’ Quarters and Oil Shed moved inland approximately 135 feet to prevent the imminent destruction of these structures.
The City of Port St. Joe received Constructive Possession of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse District on February 22, 2013.
The United States of America, by and through the Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior and the Southeast Regional Director, National Park Service did release and quitclaim to the City of Port St. Joe on July 30, 2013, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse District. The United States Coast Guard retained ownership of the third-order Fresnel Lens.
On July 15, 2014, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse, two Keepers Quarters’, and Oil Shed were relocated to Core Park in Port St. Joe to preserve each structure in perpetuity.
The Cape San Blas Lighthouse at Port St. Joe was opened on September 12, 2014, to visitors.
On May 7, 2015, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.