Fascinating History, Beautiful Vistas and Possible Ghosts at the St. Simons Lighthouse
If you live in the St. Simons area (or are thinking of visiting) there’s a wonderful historical site that you cannot miss. Standing 104 feet tall, the St. Simons Lighthouse is constructed with Savannah grey brick and contains a French-made, biconvex Fresnel lens — one of 70 that exist in the United States. An active lighthouse from 1872 until 1953, the St. Simons Lighthouse continues to be a working navigational aid, casting its light as far as 23 miles out to sea. Once cared for by a series of lightkeepers who lived on site in the “Keepers Dwelling”, today it is actively maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Anyone adventurous enough to climb the 129 steps to the top will be treated to amazing, panoramic views of the coast including Jekyll Island, the Brunswick mainland and the south end of St. Simons Island. While you’re inside the lighthouse, keep a keen eye out for the ghost of lightkeeper Frederick Osborne, who was killed in a duel with assistant keeper John Stephens in early March 1880. It’s been said that Fred Osborne is coming back to check and make sure that the light is properly cared for.
One of only five surviving lighthouses in Georgia, this current light tower is actually the second version. The original St. Simons Lighthouse was established in 1810 at a cost of $13,775 and was located just east of the current one. On September 29, 1861, in the midst of the Civil War, the local Glynn Guards Infantry Company blew up the lighthouse to keep it out of the hands of the Union Navy. The building’s fragile (and very expensive) Fresnel lens, which had replaced the first oil lantern in 1857, was moved inland prior to destruction of the tower. It turns out the Glynn Guards were prescient in their act of relocating the lens; when Federal troops landed in Brunswick they searched for the lens but to no avail. To this day, the original St. Simons Lighthouse Fresnel lens has never been found.
After your trek to the lighthouse, take a stroll through the “Keeper’s Dwelling”, a two-story Victorian structure which housed lighthouse keepers from 1872 until David O’Hagan, the last lightkeeper, left in 1953. Today it houses the Lighthouse Museum which includes interactive exhibits, rare artifacts, and period rooms that reveal the history of St. Simons Island and the life of a lighthouse keeper.
Come check out the natural beauty, history and relaxing atmosphere that St. Simons offers year around. We here at DeLoach Sotheby’s International Realty would be delighted to help you explore the area and find out if your next home awaits you in St. Simons, Georgia.
Photo courtesy of Explore Georgia.