View from Fort Clinch State Park

Builder:   Winslow Lewis
Construction:   Brick double-walled tower with metal cupola
Height:   64 feet
Site:   Stands on a 60-foot-high bluff, three-quarters of a mile from the ocean
Signature:   Flashes every 10 seconds; has red sector in southeast quadrant
Focal plane of light:   107 feet
Original lighting apparatus:   15-inch Lewis oil lamps with reflectors
Present Light:   Third-Order Fresnel Lens

Built in 1820, Florida’s northernmost lighthouse was originally built and used on South Cumberland Island, Georgia.  It was dismantled in 1838-39 and rebuilt on Amelia Island by Winslow Lewis, a prominent lighthouse designer, and is located near the mouth of the St. Mary’s River.  It is the oldest documented structure on Amelia Island.

The original light was equipped with 14 lamps, each with a 140-inch reflector, and was fueled by sperm whale oil.  Later, lard oil was used because it was less expensive, easy to ship and store, and not volatile – but it had to be heated before it could be used in the lamp.  By 1848, the reflector size was increased to 15 inches.  Around 1875, the government switched to kerosene (also called mineral oil) to power lighthouses.  It was less expensive, but dangerous to store, so oil houses were built to hold the fuel. 

In 1903, a 3rd Order Fresnel Lens, built by Barbier & Benard, of Paris, was installed and is still in use today.  A red sector, to warn mariners of shallow waters on the south end of island, was added to the lantern room in 1917.

In 1933, the light was electrified, and a 1,000-watt bulb supplied the illumination.  The light was automated in 1970.

The conical lighthouse is brick with a stucco exterior, and its 59 granite stairs were hand-hewn in New England.  It is 64-foot tall, with a focal plane of 107-feet.  Its lens characteristic is a flash every 10 seconds, and is visible for 19 miles.

The light is in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and its grounds are occasionally open for visiting.  On the day we were there (2/4/11) the gate was closed and locked.  A distant view can be had from Fort Clinch State ParkPassport Stamps are available at Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center, 2500 Atlantic Avenue (Monday - Friday) and at the Amelia Island Museum of History, 233 3rd Street (Monday - Saturday).

View from Fort Clinch State Park

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