Saint Augustine Lighthouse
Saint Augustine Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
The first tower in St. Augustine was built by the Spanish in the late 1500's to function as a watchtower, not as a lighthouse. The tower was replaced by a building that was built, rebuilt and enlarged over the next 200 years by the Spanish. In 1821 Florida became a U.S. territroy. In 1824 a lens was installed by the U.S. Goverment, making it Florida's first offical lighthouse. This first St. Augustine lighthouse eventually collapsed from erosion by the sea in the 1880.
Consturction of the current lighthouse was begun in 1871 and finished in 1874. The Tower structure has 219 steps and is 165 feet tall. When this lighthouse was finished, the lamp was fueled with lard oil. Later an incandesent vapor lamp fueled by kerosene was used. In 1936 it was powered by electricity.
The lens in the lighthouse is classified as a firt order Frensel lens, It refracts light from a 1000 watt lightbulb for a beam that can be seen up to 25 miles.
All lighthouses have a signature, or pattern of light that allows mariners to estalish their location at night. The signature of the St. Augustine Lighthouse is a 30 second fixed flash. The lighthouse is still an active aid to navigation and lights every night.
All lighthouses have a distinuishing daymarks and no two are exactly alike. The St. Augustine Lighthouse's daymark is a black and white spiral striped tower with a red lantern.
The St. Augustine Lightkeepers' House was built in 1876. It was home to the lightkeeper and the assistant keeper with their families from 1876 until 1955. In 1955 the lighthouse was automated leaving no further need for Lightkeepers. The house burned in 1970 and was restored by the Junior Service League in 1988.
This historic district is absolutely beautiful. There are bed and breakfast, shops, galleries, cafe's, resturants, museums, Colonial Spanish Quarter, The Oldest house and schoolhouse, and Carriage tours. If you leave downtown you can see the Fountain of Youth, and the Saint Augustine Lighthouse.
Established in 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles', St. Augustine is the oldest permanent European settlement in the continenetal United States. For 235 years it was the political, military, and religious capital of the Province of Florida from which Spain exercised jurisdiction over a vast geographical region. The town's principal value, though, was as a military base for the protection of Spain's colonial trade oand commerce.
St. Augustine is also perhaps the earliest example of community planning within the continental United States. This is exemplified by it's regular and narrow streets, a pleasant central plaza, abundant open spaces, beautiful patios and gardens, impressive government and religious buildings, and comfortable homes--all suggest an emphasis on the development of an ordeerly, dignifiedm, healthy, and pleasent enviroment. The character of the city still reflects its vibrant Spanish heritage.
Castillo de San Marcos was for many years the nothernmost outpost of Spain's vast New World empire. It is the oldest masonary fort and the best-preserved example of a Spanish colonial fortification in the continental United States. It anchored East Florida's defenses. It protected St. Augustine from pirate raids and from Spain's major rival Great Britain.
The roots of the Castillo's history reach back to the years Christopher Columbus final transatlantic voyage, when conquistadores carved out a vast and wealthy overseas empire for Spain, first in the Caribbean, then Mexico, Central America, Columbia, Venzuela, and Peru. Products of these tropical and Mountainous territories brought high prices on the Continent, and Spanish galleons sailed home laden with exotic dyes, sugar, tobacco, chocolate, pearls, hardwoods, and silver and gold.
Thanks tp thee rave;s pf Ponce de Leon in 1513, Spanish navigators knew that the best return route was along the Gulf Stream, through the Bahama Channel, and past the shores of Florida. The Spainish knew they must defend this peninsula to prevent enemies from using its harbors as havens from which to raid the passing treasure fleets.
In 1513 Spain claimed Florida through the expedition of Ponce de Leon, but France gained the first foothold there be establishing Fort Caroline on the St. Johns River in 1564. King Phillip II sent an expedition under Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles to eleinate the French threat and establish settlements in Florida. It arrived at the mouth of the St.
After attempting unsuccessfully to board the French ships anchored there, Menenez sailed to a harbor farther south and established St. Augustine as a base for further operations. Almost immediately a French fleet sailed south to attack. But the ships were driven southward and wrecked by a violent storm and the mission failed. Realizing that Fort Caroline would be lightly guarded, the Spainiards marched north, captured the fort, and executed most of the inhabitants. The same fate befell surivors from the French fleet, whom the Spainiards captured and killed at an inlet 14 miles south of Saint Augustine. The episode gave a name to the area; Matanzas, Spanish for "slaughters."
England became Spain;s next contender for Florida.
Begun in 1672 and finished by 1695, the Castillo replaced nine successive wooden fortifications that had protected St. Augustine sine it's founding. The fort's commanding location on the west bank of Matanzas Bay allowed it's guns to protect not only the harbor entrance but the ground to the north against a land attack.
The Castillo baptism of fire came in 1702 during the War of the Spanish Succession, when the English occupied St.
To strengthen the defenses, the Spanish erected new earthwork lines on the north and west sides of the city, making it a walled city. Matanzas Inlet, however, was still unfortified when General James Oglethorpe's British troops from Fort Fredderica in Georgia attacked St. Augustine in 1740. Again the Castillo was besieged and Matanzas Inlet blockaded. But the Spanish did not waver during the 27-day British bombardment. The attack also taught the Spainish the strategic value of Matanzas Inlet and the need for a strong outpost there.
In 1763, as an outcome of the Seven Years' (French and Indian) War, Spain ceded Florida to Great Britian in return for La Habana, Cuba. The British garrisoned Matanzas and strengthened the Castillo, holding the two forts through the American Revolution. The Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the war, returned Florida to Spain.
Spain held Florida until 1821, when serious Spanish-American tensions led to its cession to the United States. The Americans renamed the Castillo Fort Marion and used it to house Indian prisoners during the Seminole War of 1835-42. Confederate troops occupied it briefly during the Civil War and Indians captured in western military campaigns were held there later on. It was last used during the Spanish-American War as a military prison.