St. Marks
Lighthouses of Florida's Gulf Coast
To visit the St. Marks Lighthouse, take Hwy. 98 until you reach County Road 59 just east of the St. Marks River.  Next, stop at the Refuge office where a parking permit (required) can be purchased.  Then, follow the signs to the lighthouse.  Also, be sure to take sunscreen, drinking water, and bug spray.  If you visit this lighthouse in the summer, these items are a must!!!
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In 1828, Congress approved $6,000 for a lighthouse to be built to guide shipping into the St. Marks River.  However, in an effort to save money, the builders of the lighthouse used the least amount of materials possible to build the lighthouse.  Once construction was completed, the lighthouse was deemed to be a hazard and was torn down.  The rickety tower was then replaced with a solid brick tower, built to stand up to the strongest of gulf storms.  Nevertheless, the second tower would not stand for very long either.  The river doomed this tower when erosion began to threaten its foundation.  The government then made the decision to tear down the tower and reconstructed it in a safer location further away from the river.

Finally, the third tower, constructed safely away from the river, proved to be a solid structure that could stand up to the elements as well as those seeking to destroy it.  As with some other southern lighthouses, Confederate troops attempted to destroy the lighthouse.  Troops placed kegs of gunpowder inside the tower in a desperate attempt to blow up the structure to keep it from being used by Union forces.  Luckily, the lighthouse withstood the blast and was repaired and placed back into service shortly after the war ended.  The lighthouse remains an active aid to navigation to this day.  With a height of 88 feet, the light which is magnified by a fourth-order Fresnel lens, enables the lighthouse to be visible about fifteen miles at sea. 

Located in the beautiful St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, the lighthouse is somewhat difficult to
St. Marks Light
Photo taken on May  23, 2003
                                                                        photograph due to its close proximity to the water and because it is surrounded by lots of vegetation.  The refuge is abundant with wildlife that is typically found in southern coastal marshlands such as alligators, snakes, and many species of birds and insects.  Even though the lighthouse is closed to the public, this is a wonderful place to spend the day just enjoying the natural environment.

For those adventurous souls out there, there is a trail that leads away from the east side of the lighthouse where photographs can be taken.  Be sure to watch your step and be on the lookout for wildlife!!!
Photo taken on May  23, 2003
Photo taken on May  23, 2003
Close up of Lantern Room and Fresnel Lens
Keeper's Quarters
This shot of the porch of the keeper's quarters shows how the porch slopes toward the grond.  The picture is level!
Photo taken on May  23, 2003
Photo taken on May  23, 2003
Distant view of the lighthouse
Photo taken on May  23, 2003
Looking up the tower