HDR Image of Cape Canaveral Lighthouse

  The following information is from a pamphlet picked up while visiting the lighthouse on February 9, 2011.


The first lighthouse on Cape Canaveral was completed in 1848.  Since its light could only be seen from 10 miles at sea, construction of the present lighthouse began in 1859 and was completed in 1868.  The tower is 167 feet tall and is visible from 16 plus miles. During 1892-1894 it was moved due to erosion and now stands about one mile inland from the eastern tip of the cape.

Original First Order Fresnel Lens from Cape Canaveral
On display at Ponce de Leon Lighthouse

Cape Canaveral is thought to be the oldest mapped location in the United States.  The name means "Cape of the Canes."  The lighthouse is owned by the 45th Space Wing U.S. Air Force and is the only operational lighthouse in the United States that is owned by the U.S. Air Force.

Restoration of the lighthouse began in 2004 when the Air Force completed restoration of the oil house adjacent to the lighthouse.

The black and white stripes of the daymark were painted, the gallery and lamp room were removed and restored with new supports and the original brass cupola was refurbished.  On April 29, 2007 the beacon was re-lit to welcome mariners home.


The lighthouse was transferred to the Air Force from the Coast Guard on December 14, 2000.  The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation Inc. was established on May 20, 2002.

The purpose of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation Inc. is to assist the 45th Space Wing in preserving, protecting, and interpreting the lighthouse and its historical significance to the Florida Space Coast, State of Florida and our Nation.  The Foundation supports the Air Force in the development and operation of a lighthouse program that informs the public and commemorates the historical activities of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  The Foundation is charged with promoting the lighthouse through advertisements, brochures, and other means.

The Foundation holds an Annual Meeting for the entire membership usually in June and has held other public events including lobster/clam bakes, bar-b-ques, etc.

The affairs of the Corporation are managed by a Board of Directors who meet bi-monthly.  The board consists of nine to fifteen members.  The Brevard County Historical Commission, the Air Force 45th Space Wing and the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation dedicated a historical marker at the lighthouse on October 23, 2008.  Another important event took place in conjunction with the Marker Dedication was the construction of a wood chip mulch path bordered by 6"x6"x10' stringers.  This permitted access to the Lighthouse for the first time in over two years by avoiding lead contamination which has now been removed.  Plans are in place to greatly improve this historical site.


The 45th Space Wing Public Affairs Office conducts public bus tours of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, including the lighthouse, the second Wednesday of the month from 8:30 am to noon, free of charge.  The frequency of the free tours is expected to increase significantly in the next few months.  Visitors may now walk into the lighthouse and ascend to the fifth level.  Call the PAFB Public Affairs Office for tour reservations and more information at l321-494-5945.

1848 First 65' tall lighthouse structure is built.
1853 Captain Mills Burnham becomes the lighthouse keeper, a position he would hold for 33 years until his death in 1886.
1859 Work begins on a new iron and steel lighthouse, but is halted by Civil War.
1868 The 150' tall lighthouse is completed.
1873 The daymark is added, black and white horizontal bands painted on structure.
1892 Work begins to move the lighthouse a mile and a half inland
1894 Relocation is complete.  Lighthouse is re-lit.
1939 The U.S. Coast Guard takes over the lighthouse from the U.S. Lighthouse Service.
1954 The lighthouse is automated and the last lighthouse keeper retires.
1993 The Fresnel Lens is removed and a modern optic installed.
2000 Ownership of the lighthouse is transferred from the Coast Guard to the U.S. Air Force.
2002 The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation, Inc. is formed and a Memorandum of Agreement is signed with the U.S. Air Force.
2004 Restoration of the lighthouse began
2007 Lighthouse beacon is re-lit.

View of the DCB-224 lighting apparatus with two-1,000 watt lamps.


The Foundation operates "The Keeper's Closet" gift shop offering high quality Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Merchandise and memorabilia for sale.  The Keeper's Closet is opened from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday at the Cape Cafeteria for badged personnel at the lighthouse during all public tours and Foundation events, and for your convenience we are always open online at  Please click on the Keeper's Closet tab at the top of that webpage to see photos of everything we offer at the shop.  If you are local, we deliver or shipping can be arranged.  Contact Janey Powell at 321-635-8363 or email for ordering info.  To volunteer at the Keeper's Closet, use Janey's contact info.  All proceeds from the shop help to restore and preserve the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.


The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse historical marker was dedicated on October 23, 2008


On May 21, 1838, Florida territorial delegate Charles Downing requested a lighthouse be built on Cape Canaveral.  The first lighthouse completed in January 1848, stood 65-feet tall, had a 55-foot tower and a 10-foot lantern room equipped with 15 lamps on 21-inch reflectors.  The brick tower and keeper's home cost under $13,300.  Nathaniel Scobie oversaw construction and appointed the first keeper.  With the advent of the Civil War, S. Mallory, Confederate Navy Secretary, ordered Florida East Coast lighthouses "extinguished."  Keeper Mills Burnham removed the lamp and buried it in his orange grove.  A state-of-the-art, 151-foot iron tower was erected in 1968 and topped with a 1st Order Fresnel Lens.  The tower's living quarters were used for storage and a weather station.  In 1871, a storm surge washed over the lighthouse area spoiling lamp oil and drinking water.  This and shoreline erosion caused the lighthouse to be moved.  From October 1893 to July 1894 the tower was dismantled, moved by tram one mile inland and re-erected, along with a 1st and 2nd assistant's and keeper's home to its present location.  In 1939, the Coast Guard took ownership.  In 2000, stewardship was transferred to the 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base.

Looking up at the tower


The circular stairs going up inside the lighthouse

A previous lighthouse keeper scratched his name in the glass.

Inside the lighthouse.  The circular stairs are located inside the wall (right side of picture) and the living quarters are between the stairs and the outside wall of the tower.

These pictures show the assembly codes that were stamped into the components when the lighthouse was disassembled, moved and reassembled further inland.


View outside from a porthole

In 1996, during renovations of the lighthouse, a galvanized steel roof replaced the original copper roof.  A gazebo was erected in the parking lot of the Air Force Space and Missile Museum using the same dimensions as the lighthouse light room.  Its sole purpose was to enhance the display of the copper roof.  During the 2006-2007 lighthouse renovation, the original copper roof was repaired and once again was placed atop the lighthouse.  The galvanized steel top was placed atop the gazebo. 

A plaque, dedicated in October 1997,  notes that Johnson Controls created the gazebo, the original copper roof was donated by Atlantic Waterproofing and Coatings, Inc., and volunteer craftsmanship was provided by Johnson Controls employees and Transport Workers Union Local 525.  The plaque is on a brick monument placed near the gazebo.  A second plaque reads "
This monument is constructed of bricks from the original Cape Canaveral Lighthouse and erected by Eagle Scout Paul H. Heleen, BSA Troop 481." 

The Lighthouse That Never Fails

Here is a cute video that begins as a documentary about the lighthouse at Cape Canaveral
but the lighthouse surprisingly ends up being launched as a missile. 

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