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Molasses Reef Lighthouse


Molasses Reef is a coral reef located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It lies to the southeast of Key Largo, within the Key Largo Existing Management Area, immediately to the east of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Its lighthouse has marked the reef for most of the 20th century.

The Molasses Reef Light was a screw-pile tower built and lit in 1921. It was built as a square pyramidal skeletal tower that held a lantern room at the top. Its light flashes every 10 seconds; with a range of seven nautical miles. As it was only built to mark local hazards, the light did not need to shine very far. Keepers' quarters were not included, as the light was fully automatic from the time it was first lit. The lantern has now been removed, but it is still an active aid to navigation.

Molasses Reef is a popular scuba diving and snorkeling location with numerous dive sites marked by mooring buoys, as well as the base of the lighthouse. Another notable site is at buoy #7 and is variously referred to as the Winch Hole, Windlass Wreck, or The Winch. Here lies the large mechanical winch from the Slobodana, a 170-foot wooden-hulled schooner that sank in 1887 after only three years in service. In addition to the winch itself, various mechanical artifacts are scattered over the nearby area. Also, large coral formations with deeper channels between them make this a popular dive location.

Station ceased transmitting in April 2019. It was slated to be restored to service by October 2020.

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A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Molasses Reef Lighthouse

The Molasses Reef Light did not have keepers quarters, as it was fully automated at the time it was built.

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