Tiny Cockspur Island is located at the mouth of the south channel of Georgia’s Savannah River. An unlighted day beacon tower built on the island in the 1830s, later converted into a lighthouse in the late 1840s, was destroyed by a hurricane in 1854. The 46-foot-tall lighthouse that still stands today was built in 1856 on the old foundation. The tower is made of Savannah Grey brick.
When Confederate forces at Fort Pulaski fell to the Union in the Civil War, Cockspur Lighthouse stood directly in the line of fire for 30 hours. Amazingly, the lighthouse suffered no damage. Except for the Civil War years, the lighthouse operated continuously until 1909 when it was discontinued because of decreased maritime traffic in the south channel.
The lighthouse today is part of the Fort Pulaski National Monument. Friends of Cockspur Lighthouse was established to work with the National Park Service for the preservation of the lighthouse. Major work was carried out this past summer, including the stabilization of the brick masonry and the replacement of doors and windows.
Joel Cadoff is the Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services Public Information Officer at Fort Pulaski National Monument. His specialties are historical interpretation, the Civil War and Seacoast Defense History, and the National Park Service Historic Weapons Safety Program.
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Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org