Lighthouse Keepers …..

kinda, sorta to some extent?

Since the Key Biscayne Lighthouse & cabin have been closed at Bill Baggs, due to covid, Dave & I were asked if we wanted to clean it up a bit and we have. So we are taking the title of Honorary / Temporary “Lighthouse Keepers.”

Let’s start with the Lighthouse Keeper’s cabin

front of the cabin

side of the cabin
Back of the cabin

A lighthouse keeper had a very hard and different kind of life. I would only want to be an Temperary / Honorary Lighthouse Keeper.

Cleaning up a bit

Girl’s room with a doll on her chair
Boy’s room with a straw hat on the cabinet

And now the lighthouse ....

There are109 steps to the top of the Lighthouse and then on to a watch room

Inside we go

When you step out on to the top railing on the very top you see this …..

You can see the cabin from this view

A bit of History . . . .

The lighthouse left over from a not-so-kind history of Indian attacks, Civil War battles, pirates, hurricanes and other harrowing and heroic times in Florida history, and it’s a treasure that has withstood more than its share of wear and tear over the decades.

It is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County, though it has been reinforced and refurbished several times since its original build in 1825.

Initially built as a 65-foot lighthouse with wooden stairs, the Cape Florida Light was initially build to guide sailors and serve as a lookout to protect the area from the pirates, Indians and other invaders that had been posing dangers to Florida throughout the 1700s and early 1800s. The first keeper and his family moved into the lighthouse’s cottage, becoming the first American family to reside in Key Biscayne. There are now 109 steps on the narrow spiral staircase that takes you to the top of the Lighthouse.

Eleven years after opening, while the keeper and his family were away, a band of Seminole Indians attacked the tower, burning all of the wood structure inside and pillaging the cottage. It would be several years – well after the threat of Indians had subsided – before the lighthouse was rebuilt and operating again. 

Lighthouse keeping is not for the faint-hearted. Keepers live in isolation, endure violent storms, and must be ready to respond to the occasional shipwreck. They have to be self-sufficient, handy, happy with their own company, and comfortable with heights lighthouse attendants often faced

Until the invention of the light bulb, the “light” at a lighthouse usually came from a flame. If the fire escaped control, catastrophes happened. Rescues  were made frequently by the lighthouse keeper or any family member, if they had family there.  Before widespread electricity and automation in the 1960s, some keepers began floating their lenses in liquid mercury. The keepers would  breath and touch the mercury on their daily cleaning rounds. Modern scholars have proven that chronic mercury poisoning causes confusion, depression, and hallucinations. Some lighthouses likely attracted some folks who had trouble fitting into society, but being very isolated, especially if no family was there, you suffered from extreme Isolation and depression.  Lighthouse keepers didn’t leave the lighthouse, they had supplies brought by boat, some only a twice a year and only getting off the island every 2 years or so. 

Mouthfuls of molten lead, wild weather, and insanity: the occupational hazards of an early lighthouse keeper.   Amorina Kingdon

If you ever saw the bizarre movie The Lighthouse, this could explain a little of it.

2 thoughts on “Lighthouse Keepers …..

  1. Sandy

    Very cool. A pioneer type life What a rare opportunity to try out the ‘lifestyle’. Just say no if they try to recruit you for doing some white exterior painting though. Great pics!

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