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Sapelo Island Lighthouse


Sapelo Island Lighthouse is a lighthouse near the southern tip of Sapelo Island, Georgia. It is the nation's second-oldest brick lighthouse and the oldest survivor among lighthouses designed by Winslow Lewis. Sapelo Island Lighthouse was built and activated in 1820 and served to guide boats in and out of the port in Darien. It was designed and built by Winslow Lewis. It had fifteen Lewis lamps with fifteen-inch reflectors, fitted on a triangular revolving iron frame. The lighthouse was a 65-foot brick structure, about 30 feet in diameter at the base and 12 feet at the top. Its brick walls are several feet thick at the bottom, tapering to about two feet thick at the top

In the 1850s, the tower was raised by 10 ft and the lighthouse upgraded to a more effective Fourth Order Fresnel lens. The lens was removed by Confederate Soldiers during the Civil War before Union Army occupation of the island in 1862. The lighthouse was in need of extensive repair following the war. The light returned to service on the evening of April 15, 1868.

In 1898, a powerful, deadly hurricane hit the coast of Georgia, and the tower again suffered significant damage. It was rebuilt and re-lit in 1899. Noting that the sea was beginning to erode the Sapelo Lighthouse, the Lighthouse Board requested funding for a new light further inland. A pyramidal 100-ft skeletal tower lighthouse with a Third Order Fresnel lens was built in 1905. Two wooden dwellings were constructed adjacent to the tower.

The 1820 lighthouse was inactive from 1905 until 1998 when it was restored to its 1890 appearance and re-lit with a modern light and lens. It is now maintained by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and has no official navigational use. In 1933, due to a decrease in marine traffic, the skeletal tower was dismantled and relocated in 1934 to South Fox Island, Michigan. The lighthouse, oil building, the cistern, the footing of the 1905 light, the ruins of the fortification, and the associated range light were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

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A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Sapelo Island Lighthouse

The original Fresnel Lens was removed and hidden by the Confederacy when the island was being occupied by Union troops during the Civil War and was never recovered.

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  • Sapelo Island Lighthouse
  • Darien
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