Exploring Florida - Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse

May 31, 2016 Michael Agneta 13 Comments

Would it be strange if I told you that I didn't go fishing at all over the long Memorial Day weekend? Well, strange but true.

Instead, we kinda did family stuff near the house, with the exception of Monday, where it was time to escape for a mini road trip down I-95 to Ponce de Leon Inlet, and more specifically, its lighthouse.

Now this isn't the first time this particular lighthouse has appeared on the blog, rather a photo from afar during a fishing trip to New Smyrna Beach popped up two years ago, however this time we were going to visit the attraction, and perhaps learn a little bit about it in the process.

Here's a tour of the lighthouse grounds, in captioned photo form.

The ominous, shadowy lighthouse. Or just a really bad photo.
You'll notice there are some smaller houses on the grounds,
they were where the lighthouse keeper and assistants lived.
They've been converted into some really neat museums.

There were all sorts of interesting artifacts inside the houses.
Everything from local maritime, aviation, Native American, and of course, lighthouse history.
One house didn't have displays, rather was preserved to look like it did in the early 1900s.

There were also some interactive exhibits.
K.C. & Lilly reviewed a touch screen where you could pull up
 a "bio" on any active lighthouse in the world.

One of the things I learned was that I wouldn't have wanted to be a lighthouse keeper.
The lighthouse wasn't electric, rather lit with a kerosene lamp.
The keeper had to lug 40 gallons of kerosene up those stairs every day. Yikes!
Just looking up the middle of the spiral staircase from the ground floor is enough for vertigo to kick in.

But the view of the inlet from the top was awesome.
Looks like a place I want to explore a little bit more with a fishing rod.
If you squint (click to zoom), you'll note a fishing pier / jetty on the left,
and in the foreground, some nice calm water & sandbars to tool around in my kayak.

A slightly better picture of the lighthouse.
It happens to be the tallest in Florida at approximately 175 feet.
It was built in 1835 back when the area was called Mosquito Inlet.
Glad they changed the name, probably not good for tourism...

Besides scaling the lighthouse, the highlight of the trip was visiting the small museum they had set up that housed various types of lighthouse lamp lenses. These circular ribbed lenses are called Fresnel lenses. Invented by French physicist & engineer Augustin-Jean Fresnel, the prismatic rings focus the radiating light to a central point, making for very powerful beams. They quickly became the standard for all U.S. lighthouses.

Interestingly, if you're into a bit of lighthouse & fishing fiction, check out "A Salty Piece of Land" by Jimmy Buffett (yeah, that Jimmy Buffett). It's a pretty good read that focuses partly on bonefishing the tropics and partly on restoring a Fresnel lens lighthouse. I happened to read it 10 years ago before I knew much about either. I'd like to read it again.


Would it be strange if I told you that I didn't go fishing at all over the long Memorial Day wee...

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for the interesting tour, Michael. Some of us will never experience being able to do what the Agneta family was able to do this weekend. So we enjoyed the pictorial tour.............

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    1. Glad you liked it, definitely different that what's normally posted around here.

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  2. Lighthouses are cool. Try to visit when I'm in the area. They all have a story.

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    1. ...and most claim to be haunted. I don't care for that side of the story.

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  3. That is a cool lighthouse. I love seeing historical landmarks like lighthouses, forts and old homesteads. If you ever get a chance to see the lighthouses on the outer banks DO IT. They are all neat.

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    1. Need to get up that way. I think that'd be very enjoyable.

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  4. For a landlubber like me, lighthouses and their histories are fascinating. Just not enough to go in person.

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    1. I hear ya. Plus to see this one you'd have to visit Florida, and I know how you feel about the Sunshine State.

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  5. Lighthouses are so wonderful. Some of the best I've seen are along Maine's coast. They say that the Great Lakes have the most.

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    1. I'm certain there are a bunch in New England and the Maritimes that are must see.

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  6. When I was working in Tallahassee from 2011 to 2013, I dreamed of making it down that way to fish the lagoons or near shore. I wanted to find out, "exactly what is this beastie they call 'sea trout'???"

    Knowing there's a cool lighthouse there may be useful.

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    1. Michael
      So into this kind of stuff, such as old lighthouses---a holiday weekend is one of the worst times to try to fish, you made a wise decision. thanks for sharing

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    2. Never thought of the holiday weekend that way Bill, but you're probably right!

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