St. Simons Island Light is a beautiful lighthouse. Located on the southern tip of the island, its light warns ships of the many dangerous sandbars inherent to the area. The lighthouse is on the eastern coast of the United States, just an hour north of Jacksonville, Florida.
St. Simons Lighthouse Stands
Now the site of a museum, this bright, one-hundred-and-four-foot lighthouse was the brainchild of a southern landowner named John Couper. He wanted the government to install a lighthouse to facilitate trading that would boost the local economy. In March of 1804, Congress allotted $7,000 toward the building expenses of the lighthouse. John Couper gave up four acres of his land, for which he was compensated $1, and the work began.
Who Built St. Simons Light?
A man from Massachusetts named James Gould constructed the original 75-foot high structure in 1810. James Gould was hired as the first keeper and made a go of it with his workforce. He and his workers simultaneously maintained a cotton plantation and ran the lighthouse keeping sea traffic safe. This original lighthouse had a base as wide as 25-feet with extremely thick walls. The top of the lighthouse narrowed to 10-feet wide. The first light emanated from an oil lantern that was hung 10-feet high at the top of the tower. James Gould built the lighthouse using tabby. This concrete-like material is made from burned oyster shells which create lime. After it is mixed with water, sand, and ash, it is a suitable building material.
Is the Current Lighthouse the Original?
Sadly the original historic lighthouse was destroyed during the American Civil War. The Fresnel Lens, which was fabricated in France, was supposedly dismantled prior to the destruction of the tower. The lens has never been found. A modern lighthouse was constructed on the site in 1872. This is the 104-foot grey brick structure you see today. Along with the Keeper’s House, it is a museum showing what life would have been like as a lighthouse keeper. Another Fresnel Lens was ordered from France in 1872 and is the light that is housed in the tower. This light currently serves as an Active Aid to Navigation and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
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