47 St Augustine Lighthouse Facts: Uncover The Truth! | Kidadl

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47 St Augustine Lighthouse Facts: Uncover The Truth!

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The St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum which still stands today is one of the most popular historic places for visitors in the United States and has a long history.

This lighthouse is in Florida and is still actively working. It's witnessed plenty of wars and deaths, so there are plenty of people who believe in the rumors of ghostly encounters about this place.

Today, the navigation system is developed as there are electronic navigation systems. However, before electronic navigation systems were invented, mariners relied on lighthouses for guidance. The lighthouse was a crucial aspect of seafaring and important for seafarers.

The St Augustine lighthouse was built on Florida’s northeastern Atlantic coast sometime between 1871 and 1874. Documentation shows that before the Americans constructed the lighthouse, there was evidence of a lighthouse at the same site built by the Spanish. We believe the St Augustine Lighthouse to be the first lighthouse in Florida that stands on Anastasia Island. This old tower has witnessed not only the Spanish reign but also the British period because of the frequent clashes between the Spanish and British in this area.

The light station grounds and first-order Fresnel lens is presently owned by a non-profit maritime museum. It's a historic place that is now used for educational programs too. There are admission and membership charges that go towards maintaining this lighthouse and also various programs under maritime archaeology. We associate the lighthouse with some spine-chilling stories, and it's one of the most popular haunted sites in all of Florida.

There are two accidents that occurred in the 19th century that are significant for the lighthouse and its stories, with many people claiming to have seen apparitions relating to the events. The first is the death of two young girls, and the second is the death of the lighthouse’s keeper.

Although this lighthouse may be eerie sometimes and famous for its paranormal activities it doesn't keep visitors away. To know more fascinating facts about this lighthouse and more paranormal incidents, continue reading this article and find out if it's just a rumor or for real. 

The History Of The St Augustine Lighthouse

The St Augustine lighthouse has a detailed history. Built in the place of a Spanish watchtower that dates back to the 1500s, the historic structures of both buildings were reconstructed by the Spanish, English, and Americans. Here's a brief history of the current lighthouse.

Let's begin in 1589 when Giovanni Battista Boazio, an Italian cartographer, created a map that illustrated the attack of Sir Francis Drake, where the watchtower was the first documented. The watchtower was initially made of wood established towards the edge of Anastasia island so that they could keep an eye on the enemy ships when Castillo De San Marcos was being established.

Now let’s jump to 1737 when the initial wooded watchtower was reconstructed under the Spanish reign. The new lighthouse was primarily a coquina tower. The methods and signals to identify the opponent ships were further developed as ships that approached from the northern region were contemplated as an enemy ship and a spar with a flag was raised. After a long period, the Seven Years War ultimately ended, and the British defeated the French and Spanish combined forces, with the help of its American colonies.

After their occupation, the British again reconstructed the lighthouse tower, although it didn't help to solve the problem of shipwrecks. In 1783, the British evacuated their territories in Florida when they were defeated by the Americans. Eventually, Spain took over the lighthouse tower in 1784, and again it was reconstructed. People began to resettle in this area after fleeing before the American revolution began. In 1853, lard oil was used and the historic Fresnel lens was used in the first lighthouse.

In 1867, the American government finally took over and reignited the beacon. But because of rising sea levels, the already built lighthouse couldn't serve its purpose, so they made the decision to build a new lighthouse. In 1871, it was assumed that the original lighthouse wouldn't be capable of withstanding the rising Atlantic Ocean, and it was believed that it would soon demolish. As a result, funds were raised to create a new tower that would be taller than the original at 165 ft (50 m). In 1874, the first-order Fresnel lens was first operated by the lighthouse keeper.

The lens was once vandalized and was replaced with an airport beacon. Now it is still preserved by the Junior Service League, United States coast guard veterans Nick Johnston, Joe Cocking, and its President. The St Augustine Lighthouse was finally established in 1874 near Matanzas Bay by enlisting the help of the local community. It also installed a light promptly to mark the Augustine inlet.

Ghost Stories Of The St Augustine Lighthouse

The St Augustine Lighthouse on Anastasia Island is not only famous for its historic grandeur but also its ghost stories. Over the year, many people have spoken about unearthly encounters with apparitions or spirits that are supposed to haunt the St Augustine Lighthouse for years.

Many people believe that they have seen a man in a mariner’s cap and blue jacket on the spiral staircase of the tower. This could either be William Russel or Joseph Andreu; both of whom were keepers of the lighthouse at one time. William Russel was very protective of the lighthouse and some people believe that this is why his spirit never left the place. Joseph Andreu met a tragic accident while painting the lighthouse and fell from the top and died.

Another popular story is about the Pittee girls. The story of these girls forms part of the paranormal tour that the lighthouse and museum offer. Hezekiah Pittee was the lighthouse construction superintendent who moved to this place with his two daughters and wife.

The story goes that the girls, along with their friends, were playing a game on their father’s cart. They often used this type of cart as a roller coaster in the Victorian era when it was attached to a wooded board. However the day the girls were playing, the wooden board wasn't attached. The girls ended up in the water and drowned, meaning Mr. Pittee both lost his daughters. Since then, these two stories are regularly told at the maritime center.

The St Augustine Lighthouse has 219 steps.

Tourism And The St Augustine Lighthouse

Despite its paranormal activities and the so-called paranormal encounters, the St Augustine Lighthouse and maritime museum is a popular destination for both locals and visitors. Many people believe it's a must-visit if you are going to the East Coast, as the view from the lighthouse is breathtaking. The permanent tower is on the National Register of Historic places, given it is situated on the nation's oldest port. And the area provides lots of opportunities to explore for tourists.

This lighthouse and museum hold so much maritime history that it will probably take you a day to get a complete tour. The lighthouse and museum are open from nine to seven in summer and are only closed during Christmas Day and Thanksgiving. There are admission charges and it has free parking. You'll be amazed to see how beautifully preserved the lighthouse is given it's been around for so many years.

The Behind the Screen tour provides visitors the chance to see inside the lighthouse keeper's house. This tour will enable you to have a better understanding of the history of the area and various research works. The museum is an integral part of tourism and is an American Alliance Museum. This museum can also be rented for events such as weddings on the keeper’s house front lawn. There are special tours available as well. For example, the sunset or moonrise tour, Dark of the Moon tour, and exclusive lens room tour.

The sunset or moonrise tour includes food and beverages for guests where they can enjoy it from the top of the lighthouse during sunset. The most fascinating is the Dark of the Moon tour that begins after sunset. It's a paranormal tour and not for the fainthearted! The lens room tour, on the other hand, is a premium tour and there is an additional charge of $500.

The Revival Of The St Augustine Lighthouse

The St Augustine lighthouse has been rebuilt several times. The current lighthouse was built by the Americans after the old lighthouse was declared to be inadequate due to rising sea levels. Given the reliance on lighthouses at the time, there was an urgent need to build a new lighthouse. The lighthouse is now maintained by the Maritime Museum Inc.

The newly constructed St Augustine Lighthouse that we see today is because of the 15 women of the Junior Service League. In 1980, they signed a lease for 99 years for the keeper’s house with the local county. Soon after signing the lease, the Junior Service League signed another lease for 30 years with the coast guard to begin renovations. There are no elevators at the lighthouse and climbing the 219 steps can only be done by foot.

The current St Augustine lighthouse is 165 ft (50.29 m). It features the keeper's house, where the head keeper lived on the north end, while the assistant keeper lived on the south side. The keeper’s office was at the southern side of its base, where he kept all the necessary items to do his job. All of these items are now are a part of the museum. The Junior Service League has also revived the coast guard barracks, the facility of jeep repair from World War II.

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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