Last week I told you all about our trip to St. Andrews State Park in Panama City, well on the morning that we were supposed to leave our campsite and head to St. George Island, I decided to do some research to see what I could find along the way and sure enough...I found Cape San Blas Lighthouse. I was so beyond excited! While I have not said this to my girls, I am on a small mission to visit every single lighthouse in FL. I will admit, it was a little hard trying to find information on hours or price to get in. The only website I could find was a .org website that was really dedicated to telling the story of the lighthouse. I finally came across a facebook page with a phone number. So I picked up the phone and got a nice lady over the phone who told me the lighthouse was closed today, then oddly she said "let me see if I can get a hold of Linda, I think that was her name and she will call you back. Okay, I guess this Linda is going to confirm that the lighthouse is closed. I have to admit not only was I bummed but I wasn't exactly sure why I was waiting for a call back, then a few minutes later Linda called me back and was so excited about showing me the lighthouse she agreed to open it just for me, and just like that...we picked a time to meet, hung up, and I ran into the RV to share the good news or at least that's what I thought.
You have to remember, I'm a Mom to 3 teenage girls and very often, I think things are going to go one way, and they end up going in the complete opposite direction. So I head into the RV and say "Guess what guys? I found a lighthouse" immedialtey I get "UGH come on!" from one kid, "Seriously Mom, how many lighthouse are you going to climb" from another kid, and while the last kid did not say anything at all, I got a serious eye roll. So I pulled the birthday card and told them this was the only thing I have asked to do, and it was my birthday week and they couldn't tell me NO!
As we pulled into the adorable tiny historic area we were greeted by Linda and her 3 grandkids waving at us from the front porch of the keepers cottage. I could not believe that this women left her home with her grandchildren all to come open this lighthouse for me. She was so nice and eager to tell us all about the lighthouse history, and the incredible journey this lighthouse has made to end up in its final place in Port St. Joe, Florida. She explained that the City of Port St. Joe worked very hard to get the lighthouse and the 2 keepers cottages moved to this location in 2014 and had several plans for the area which included the restoration of the 2 keepers cottages, and oil house, a museum full of period specific furniture and artifacts, and a gift shop. I am so excited to visit this sweet little gem in a few years and see what they do with the area.
I am a true sucker for a great lighthouse, and over the years I have climbed several of them here in FL, as well as GA and SC. This lighthouse is pretty cool, it is the first skeletal lighthouse I have climbed and as you would imagine it's narrow and the iron spiral staircase is steep. Not only has this lighthouse been lovingly restored but the view from the top is of a gorgouse cost line surrounded by a small, quite, quaint town. It really gives you the sense of "Old Florida" and the true south. As I look back at the pictures taken on my short trip to Port St. Joe, I wish I had more time to look around and soak in some of the southern hospitality. We will definitely be back.
Cape San Blas Lighthouse History
The history of this lighthouse alone is enough to make your head spin. It has been reconstructed a few times, redesigned, it sank, it has been moved and through it all, it stands today as a symbol of preservation, and history.
1849, a conical brick tower was built 85 feet tall.
1851, that lighthouse was destroyed by a storm.
1857, the brick lighthouse was rebuilt, but during the Civil War it was burned.
1865, after making the repairs, the lighthouse returned to operation.
1869, the Lighthouse Board realized that the beach was quickly eroding.
1875, the waters of the Gulf reach within 150 feet of the tower.
1882, the lighthouse was standing in over 8 feet of water.
1883, the Lighthouse Board approved the build of a skeletal tower. While in route the tower sank in the Gulf, thankfully several pieces of the tower were salvaged and the lighthouse was moved 1500 feet off the coast.
1890, by this point in time the only thing standing between the lighthouse and the water was 144 feet of sand.
1894, sadly before it could be moved the lighthouse was damaged by a storm and left standing in water again.
1918, the lighthouse was moved one quarter mile inland.
1996, the lighthouse was deactivated.
1998, one of the keepers cottages suffered substantial damage due to Hurricane Earl.
1999, the Air Force assumed responsibility of the 2 keeper's cottages, both were moved near the tower. 1 was restored to be used by the Air Force and the other was restored in 2005.
2012, due to the continued erosion in the area the Cape San Blas district was closed.
2013, the city of Port St. Joe received Constructive Possession of the Cape San Blas district.
2014, the lighthouse, oil house and keeper's cottages were once again moved to their final home at Core Park in Port St. Joe.
September 12, 2014, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse was opened to the public.
May 7, 2015, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse District was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.