Garden Key Lighthouse

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Fort Jefferson, Florida
Garden Key Lighthouse - Bob looking at the lighthouse from inside the lighthouse
Garden Key Lighthouse - Light from the entrance
Garden Key Lighthouse - Light from the entrance
Garden Key Lighthouse - Garden Key Lighthouse from our boat
Garden Key Lighthouse - Garden Key Lighthouse from our boat
Garden Key Lighthouse - Garden Key Lighthouse
Garden Key Lighthouse - Garden Key Lighthouse

Garden Key Lighthouse Fort Jefferson Reviews

grandmar grandmar
237 reviews
Fort Jefferson 1876 Jan 01, 2005
Lighthouse from the entrance

Garden Key (Fort Jefferson) Lighthouse -1876

A lighthouse in the Dry Tortugas was critical to shipping, because vessels from the Mississippi River had to round the islands before heading up the eastern seaboard. The waters from the Gulf of Mexico come through this area before they turn up the coast and form the Gulf Stream. As a result, waters are choppy and confused, and many islands and shoals are formed.

This 65 foot brick tower was completed in March of 1826 - 20 years before construction was started on Fort Jefferson. The first keeper was John R. Flaherty who was transported (along with his wife and some of their possessions) by a U.S. revenue cutter from his home in Baltimore to the Dry Tortugas. The fact that the cutter was too small for all of the family’s baggage - the first sign that this just wasn’t going to work out. Flaherty’s wife Rebecca was most unhappy about the heat, and mosquitoes and lack of social life.

Flaherty was described as "a lazy and incompetent keeper whose mismanagement of the light led to the buildup of a thick coat of soot on the lantern glass..". After fourteen months, Flaherty swapped positions with the keeper of the Sand Key Lighthouse near Key West.

Even after the departure of Flaherty, captains still claimed that a vessel would run aground on shoals and reefs before seeing the light. The original fifteen lamps were replaced by twenty-three new lamps and reflectors, but didn't help much. When construction was started on Ft. Jefferson, the lighthouse ended up inside the fort walls at the angle of Bastion C. Because of complaints, an additional 150 foot tall lighthouse was built on Loggerhead Key in 1858.

When the Garden Key Lighthouse was badly damaged in the hurricane of 1873, inspectors recommended that the original lighthouse be torn down. It was replaced with the hexagonal, three-story tower made of boilerplate iron on Bastion C by April of 1876.

The current lighthouse just has a decorative light, since the light was decommissioned in 1921. The islands became the Dry Tortugas National Park in 1992.
Garden Key Lighthouse
Light from the entrance
Garden Key Lighthouse
Bob looking at the lighthouse from…
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Fort Jefferson Map
Fort Jefferson
photo by: pusherx