According to the Florida Lighthouse Association (FLA) website, “the Anclote Key Lighthouse has been closed to the public for about three years due to contaminated soil around the tower. With the help of a grant from FLA, the Friends of Anclote Key State Park and Lighthouse have installed a white picket fence along the walkway, thus allowing visitors get to the Lighthouse and climb the tower.
The Anclote Key Lighthouse, a cast-iron structure, was fully funded by Congress in 1887, with assembly commencing in June of 1887 when the prefabricated tower arrived from the north. The light was lit for the first time on September 15, 1887 by keeper James Gardner. The lighthouse was automated by the Coast Guard in 1952, and since it was no longer manned, vandals did extensive damage; by 1984 the lighthouse was inoperative and discontinued by the Coast Guard. In January 2003 a massive 1.5 million dollar restoration project began, culminating in a relighting ceremony on September 13, 2003.
Since the original 3rd order Fresnel lens was nowhere to be found, a modern rotating optic was placed in the lantern room; however, the rotating optic wasn’t bright enough or good enough. So the restoration project took another step forward and commissioned Enberg Mold and Tools in Jacksonville to make a replica acrylic lens. They met the challenge and in November 2004, a smaller replica 4th order lens was installed in the tower. In addition, a permanent residence has been completed for the park ranger, who now resides on the island. Anclote Key is truly a “shining example” of lighthouse restoration at its finest.”
The Florida Lighthouse Association visited and climbed Anclote Key Lighthouse as part of their winter meeting. Visit Friends of Anclote Key State Park & Lighthouse for more information on their preservation of the lighthouse.
The U.S. Lighthouse Society will be visiting Anclote Key as part of their Gulf Coast tour.
Photos by Candace Clifford; submitted January 27, 2018
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Candace was the US Lighthouse Society historian from 2016 until she passed away in August 2018. For 30 years, her work involved lighthouse history. She worked with the National Park Service and the Council of American Maritime Museums. She was a noted author and was considered the most knowledgable person on lighthouse information at the National Archives. Books by Candace Clifford include: Women who Kept the Lights: a History of Thirty-eight Female Lighthouse Keepers , Mind the Light Katie, and Maine Lighthouses, Documentation of their Past.