History of Anclote Lighthouse

The Anclote Key Light was built on Anclote Key as an aid to navigation in 1887.  It is 110 feet tall and designed with a skeleton architecture to allow storm winds and tides to blow through.  The structure itself is made of cast iron to withstand the salty air.  The lens is a Fourth Order Fresnel with a range of 12 miles and a focal plane of 110 feet.  There are 127 steps to the gallery deck with the light and light deck above that. 

Historically, both a lighthouse keeper and assistant keeper lived in two houses just below the lighthouse (as the drawing below indicates).  Several different lighthouse keepers lived there over the years. They carried gallons of oil by hand up the steps to the top, and manually turned on the light as nighttime approached.    In 1952, the lighthouse was automated and control of its upkeep became that of the Coast Guard.  As channel markers took over as navigation aids, the need for the lighthouse was no more.  The Coast Guard deactivated the lighthouse on March 4, 1985.  Sadly, the lighthouse fell into disrepair as time passed with graffiti, vandalism, and weedy overgrowth.  In the 1990's, a group of concerned citizens formed the Gulf Island Alliance (now the Friends of Anclote Key State Park and Lighthouse) and began the process of lighthouse restoration.  Their efforts placed the lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.  This group further obtained funding through a grant from the U.S. Lighthouse Society.  This funding along with finances from Florida State Parks was used to fully restore the inside and outside of the lighthouse.  This restoration was complete in 2003 and the light was relit on September 13, 2003.

Today, a ranger residence has been built and established just north of the lighthouse, and a ranger lives there full time.  The lighthouse grounds have been partially restored for historic purposes with interpretive signage.  Visitors can see the lighthouse up close, but a fence protects it from vandalism.  Lighthouse Open Houses occur with regular frequency, and visitors are invited to climb the lighthouse if they wish during those times.  For a nominal donation, a group can climb the lighthouse at a designated time of their choice; please see the "Lighthouse Private Tours" page of this website.

The lighthouse and ranger's quarters are fully "off the grid," relying on solar power for electricity, and rain collection and reverse osmosis for water.  

For more information on the history of Anclote Key Lighthouse, please visit: https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=596

Also, please take our virtual tour of the Anclote Key Lighthouse: https://youtu.be/dPMwxJOxrLU  

© Friends of Anclote Key State Park & Lighthouse
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