Chris J LeBlanc Photography - Lighthouses
Providing details and historical information of lighthouse pictures taken during my travels
Fowey Rocks Lighthouse
Key Biscayne, Florida
© 2011 - Chris J LeBlanc Photographer
Location: Located 6.5 miles southeast of the southern end of Key Biscayne.
Latitude: N 25.59062
Longitude: W 80.09673
Year Constructed: 1878. Active
Tower Height: 110 feet Focal Plane: 110 feet
Octagonal pyramidal wrought iron screwpile tower with octagonal 2-story Empire style keeper's house on a central platform, solar-powered VRB-25 aerobeacon. Tower and lantern painted brown; central cylinder and keeper's house white.
- Station Established: 1878
- Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1878
- Foundation Materials: SCREW PILE W/PLATFORM
- Construction Materials: CAST IRON
- Markings/Pattern: BROWN/WHITE
- Original Lens: FIRST ORDER DRUM, FRESNEL 1878 BUILT BY LEPAUTE
- 1876 – Lantern and lens for lighthouse put on display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
- 1877 – The lighthouse was built to mark Fowey Rocks, so named because a Spanish galleon, H.M.S. Fowey had been lost in that area in 1748. It was thought that the Cape Florida lighthouse was not adequate enough warning for the rocks; so the screwpile light was built to replace Cape Florida. The first keepers were John and Simeon Frow; they were transferred from the decommissioned Cape Florida lighthouse.
- 1935 – A hurricane washed away the first deck of the lighthouse.
- 1975 – Windmill installed to use wind power to generate electricity.
- 1982 – Lighthouse converted to solar energy and the Fresnel lens was replaced by flash tube array lamps. (Original lens is on display at the Coast Guard Aids to Navigation School in Yorktown, VA).
- 1983 – Flash tube array lamps replaced by 300 mm lantern which did not send the light out far enough, so it was replaced by a 190 mm rotating lantern.
- 1877 – Arakanapka and Carondelet ran aground while lighthouse was under construction.
- 1914 – Yacht Alice B. Philips
The Cape Florida Lighthouse was built at the southern end of Key Biscayne in 1825 to mark the northern end of the Florida reefs. After the construction of offshore lighthouses had been successfully demonstrated at several locations along the Florida Keys, the Lighthouse Board decided to replace the Cape Florida Lighthouse with one positioned directly on the reefs it was to mark.
The two-story keeper’s dwelling, built inside the tower’s octagonal exoskeleton, was completed on April 30, 1878. The upper story had a Mansard roof, matching the pitch of the supporting piles. Inside the dwelling’s iron shell, wooden walls divided the space into eight commodious rooms. From the dwelling, a spiral staircase, wrapped in an iron skin, snaked upwards to the service room. Additional stairs led from the service room to the watch room, and finally up to the lantern room where the first-order Fresnel lens, manufactured in Paris by the company of Henry Lepaute in 1876, was installed on May 25, 1878.
When the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse was complete, Cape Florida Lighthouse was discontinued and keepers John and Simeon Frow were transferred from Cape Florida to Fowey Rocks, where they lit the lamps for the first time on June 15, 1878.
The lighthouse was manned by faithful keepers until the Coast Guard removed its personnel from Fowey Rocks in 1974, following automation of the light. A decade later, the first-order Fresnel lens was removed and placed on display at the Coast Guard’s National Aids to Navigation School in Yorktown, VA. Red panels have been added to the lantern room to warn mariners of the reefs located north and south of the tower.
Fowey Rock Lighthouse Links
Historic Postcard of the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse
First-order Fresnel lens from Fowey Rock Lighthouse on display at the Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown, Virginia