And there she stood! The lighthouse was placed on the National Registry of Historic Sites in 1978.
Between 1838 and 1873, three lighthouses were built and subsequently destroyed due to severe storms on Dog Island (a barrier island off the coast of Carrabelle). The decision was made to build a lighthouse on the mainland, but it took until 1895 for the Crooked River Lighthouse to open.
Originally, there were two houses (one for the Keeper and one for the Assistant Keeper) and a couple of other small structures. Today, in addition to the lighthouse is a replica of the Keeper's residence that serves as the museum, a picnic shelter, and playground on the grounds.
Our first stop was the museum where information is exhibited about the history of the lighthouse, its keepers, and their lifestyle. A small gift shop is located in the museum and is where you may purchase tickets to climb tower. Below is the type of desk used during the period with a picture of the first Keeper, James A. Williams, above it. Also, note the barometer, also dating from 1895. It was an important tool of the time that provided some advance notice of upcoming storms.
Lighthouse keepers were highly regarded and respected for their courage and bravery, as they were involved in dangerous rescues usually during bad weather. To keep the light steadily glowing each night, fuel oil had to be carried up the steps daily. At dawn the light was extinguished and lens, lamp, reflectors, and lantern glass room had to be thoroughly cleaned. They were also responsible for maintenance of the tower and their houses. Ordering supplies was an important part of the job because they were only delivered every month or so. Logs were maintained by the watchman on duty, daily journals written, and monthly reports submitted. And like any military installation, the Keepers had to always be prepared for a surprise inspection.
Below is a US Light House library box. Beginning in 1876, the USLH establishment delivered a library box to each lighthouse (that was in a remote location) along with their supplies that were brought by ship. The library boxes were shipped from one station to the next providing variety for the Keepers and their families. They were periodically updated with different books. To combat the loneliness of a Keepers isolated location, listening to music was an important leisure activity.
When the Crooked River Lighthouse was built, the newest available lighthouse lens was ordered from Henri La Paute Co., Paris France. Below is a photo of the 4th order fresnel lens. In 1933, the lighthouse was electrified using incandescent bulbs.
By 1952, the Crooked River Lighthouse was fully automated and unmanned. The original Fresnel lens was removed in 1976, because of a mercury leakage. It was replaced with a modern optic that remained in use until 1995 when the lighthouse was decommissioned. The Carrabelle Lighthouse Associated was formed to restore, preserve and open the lighthouse to the public in 1999. The museum and restored lighthouse was opened to the public in 2008.
The woman managing the museum and gift shop, told us she would keep an eye Sadie, while we both climbed the tower. What a dog-friendly place!
So John and I began the climb of the 103' tower. The tight spiral staircase has 138 steps. There are a couple of signs on the walk up that help encourage you to continue the steep climb.
At the top, a ladder provides access to an interior platform and an exterior balcony. We cautiously walked around the perimeter and loved the fantastic views on this clear day.
Here is a view of the museum and the small building next to it, the Wash House. It is the only remaining original structure on the grounds (built in 1895).
Today there is an acrylic replica of the original 4th order Fresnel lens, but this portion of the lighthouse is not accessible to the public (although I was able to snap a photo of it). The lens shines brightly each night and continues to serve as a navigational aid.
We began the descent, staying close to the outside and holding onto the railing!
Admission to the museum is free, but a tower climb costs $5/adults and $3/children. When we visited, the museum was open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 pm. The lighthouse opens for climbs the same days, but from 1 pm to 4 pm. You must be 44" or taller to climb. For additional information about the Crooked River Lighthouse, go to this site: www.crookedriverlighthouse.org.
On our walk back to Carrabelle Beach RV Resort, we passed this lovely home. I especially loved the weather vane!
This part of the Florida is known as the "forgotten coast," and it remains a rural, small community with the primary focus on fishing. We are already loving the beauty and serenity of the area.