on April 27, 2012
While a meet and greet with the bands left us short on time, I know I had to go climb the Key West lighthouse while we were here. After 1819 when the United States purchased Florida and its keys from the Spanish, it became a major port and salvage city. In 1825 the city built a 65 foot brick lighthouse on Whitehead Point to assist the constant flow of ships that would pull into the harbor. The first light keeper was Michael Mabry and he died in 1832. His wife, Barbara, would then sever as the keeper for 32 years. During the hurricane Barbara survived but 14 people who hid out in the lighthouse including 7 members of her family did not. Nearby Sand Key Lighthouse also sustained 8 causalities including its keeper, Rebecca Flaherty, who was also a lighthouse widow. In 1846 a massive hurricane swallowed up the keys. It would mean even more business in Key West, but at the same time much of the island including the lighthouse had been destroyed. So a new lighthouse needed to be built as soon as possible. The Honey was purchased and outfitted to serve as a lightship until the new lighthouse could be built. The following year a new light was built but this time it was moved back further from the water. In 1872 a third order Fresnel lenses was added to make the range ever stronger. And then in 1892 25 more feet was added to the tower. Today the tower stands 85 feet tall and guests can climb the 88 steps to the top. In 1969 the light was decommission. But by 1972 it was recommissioned as private aid to navigation and it remains so today. Even in the day of modern day technology, if it doesn’t work you need something to rely on. So lighthouses even today still help guide boats safely through the waters. When it was decommissioned it was given to Monroe County. They in turned leased it to the Key West Arts and Historical Society. It is the 15th oldest lighthouse in the country. Today guests who climb the 88 steps to the top are awarded with a stunning bird’s eye view of this tourist mecca. Guests may also enjoy touring the restored keepers quarters which is on the property. As you leave the guest house on your way to the lighthouse, you can see the Fresnel lens that was once in Sombrero Key Lighthouse. The building is currently up for consideration on the national registry as well as for a national historic landmark. In addition to the lighthouse the society also runs the Museum of Art at History at the Customs House and the Fort East Martello Museum and Gardens. Some cruise ships will include a stop here on their islands tour. Mine cruise ship offered very little in the way of shore excursions in Key West. But as you can guess you can certainly tour on your own. I was able to get Nick to climb to the top for a brief moment here as well and once again he left me and our cruise roommate John to enjoy the views from the top. Here I was able to get an incredible view of our cruise ship. Recommendation: Very highly recommendedWebsite: www.kwahs.comThey are on Facebook. Here are some great lighthouse websites: www.floridalighthouses.org. Info on lighthouses and you can help preserve these beautieswww.lhdigest.com. Listing of all lighthouses as well as the bi monthly magazine Lighthouse Digest, and all sorts of lighthouse items. Book: American Lighthouses. Bruce Roberts/Ray Jones. 1998. The Globe Pequot Press. In on of my favorite cities on the planet, you will find one of my favorite places to visit..the Key West Lighthouse. The grounds here are stunning, I love the lighthouse, and it gives you amazing views of my favorite city. So what’s not to love?
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