Chris J LeBlanc Photography - Lighthouses
Providing details and historical information of  lighthouse pictures taken during my travels
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse
Ponce Inlet, Florida
© 2011 - Chris J LeBlanc  Photographer
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Location:   The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse is located at Ponce Inlet, FL at the end of the peninsula.
Latitude:  N 29.08063
Longitude:  W 80.92806

Year Constructed:  1887 (Francis H. Smith) Active (Private)
Tower Height:  175 feet    Focal Plane:  159 feet

Brick tower, painted bright red; lantern painted black; 3rd order Fresnel lens (in use 1933-1970 and since 2004).
Historical Information:

  • Station Established: 1835
  • Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1887
  • Operational? YES
  • Automated? YES 1953
  • Deactivated: 1970-1982
  • Foundation Materials: BRICK
  • Construction Materials: BRICK
  • Tower Height: 175 feet
  • Tower Shape: CONICAL
  • Original Lens: First Order Fresnel, 1887
  • 1834, June 30:  Congress appropriated $11,000 for the lighthouse to be built.
  • 1835, February:  Winslow Lewis completed the original 45-foot tall tower, at a cost of $7494.  The lighthouse was complete with 15 16-inch parabolic reflectors.  William H. Williams was selected as the keeper.  Oil never arrived and the lighthouse was never lit.  This light was known as the Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse named for the local town.
  • 1835, October:  A hurricane washed away the keeper's quarters and caused the lighthouse to lean.
  • 1835, December 26:  Seminole Indians attacked the lighthouse, smashing all the glass in the lantern and setting fire to its wooden stairs.  The area was abandoned.
  • 1836, April:  Without repairs, the lighthouse was left to fall into the sea.
  • 1883, March 21:  Ten acres of land was purchased for a new lighthouse designed by Francis Hopkinson Smith.
  • 1881, November 1:  The new light (with a first order fixed Fresnel lens) was lit by keeper William Rowlinski.
  • 1909:  An incandescent oil vapor lamp replaced the kerosene lamp.
  • 1925:  Electricity was installed in the keeper's quarters via a generator. Previously a windmill provided power.
  • 1927:  The town of Mosquito Inlet changed its name to Ponce de Leon Inlet.
  • 1933, August:  The light in the tower was electrified with a 500-watt lamp. The First order lens was replaced with a third order revolving lens.
  • 1939:  The lighthouse was transferred to the Coast Guard.
  • 1953:  The lighthouse was completely automated.
  • 1970:  The US Coast Guard abandoned the station.
  • 1972:  The light was deeded to the town of Ponce Inlet.  The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association was founded to assist the town with the restoration and management of the light station.  The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1982:  The light was restored to active service.
  • 2000 - 2001:  Extensive renovations including the repainting the tower and restoring the lantern room to its original look was completed.
  • 2002:  The lighthouse and keeper's quarters are open to the public for touring.  The keeper's quarters houses an extensive museum collection of lighthouse, sea and local history.

This is the second tallest brick lighthouse in the U.S. It replaced a 45 ft old-style brick tower. The extensive lighthouse museum includes 3 original keeper's houses, pump house, and oil house. The original 1st order Fresnel lens (1887-1933) and Cape Canaveral's original 1st order Fresnel lens (1860) are on display.

Several plantations in the area relied on the inlet to carry their cotton, rice, and oranges to distant ports.  A 45-foot, conical, brick tower and a dwelling were hastily completed by the end of February 1835.  During a violent storm in October 1835, the dwelling was washed into the inlet and the foundation of the tower was undercut.  The lighthouse eventually collapsed in April of 1836.

A resolution to Congress on February 8, 1847 requesting a new lighthouse for Mosquito Inlet. This request, however, was not acted upon, and the matter would not be revisited until after the Civil War. The Lighthouse Board’s annual report of 1870 stated that the level of commerce passing through Mosquito Inlet did not by itself justify a major light, but since the inlet was positioned roughly at the center of the 110-mile stretch of unlit coastline between the St. Augustine and Cape Canaveral Lighthouses, a lighthouse at the inlet that would serve as both a coastal and a harbor light was merited.  Construction for the new lighthouse was not started until 1884 and completed in 1887.  Over a million bricks would be used to construct the lighthouse, which slowly grew to its preordained height of 175 feet, from the ground to the tip of the lightning rod.  A brick foundation, extending twelve feet below ground, supports the massive tower which consists of an inner and outer wall connected by spoke-like interstitial walls. The outer wall tapers as it rises, while the inner wall maintains a constant twelve-foot diameter, leaving room for the 194-step, circular stairway.
Historic Postcard of Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse