Erected in 1825 at the end of Key Biscayne Island, the lighthouse is surrounded by the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, and marks the deepest natural channel into Biscayne Bay.
While the history of this Lighthouse surviving dozens of hurricanes is quite an interesting story, the Second Seminole War created an adventure like no other for these Lighthouse keepers. In 1835 the Seminoles massacred the William Cooley family at their Plantation in what is now Fort Lauderdale. The scared settlers on the mainland quickly arrived at the Lighthouse and Keeper Captain Dubose advised them he was moving his family to Key West because the Island was unsafe.
When the US Navy came from Key West to fortify the lighthouse tower, they boarded up the ground floor windows and reinforced the door.
While Dubose was in Key West his assistant John Thompson was left in charge aided by Aaron Carter. A band of Seminole Indians attacked the Lighthouse on July 23rd 1836, while Thompson exchanged rifle fire with the Indians from the upper tower windows all day and at night, the Indians set fire to the door and boarded up windows. As they exchanged fire, rifle balls penetrated the 225 gallon tank of lamp oil and caught fire as flames flew up the interior of the tower where the lens and glass panels of the lantern shattered from the intense heat. Thompson and Carter were wounded by the Seminole rifle shots and their clothes were burning. Lying on the 2 ft Tower platform they ran outside, Thompson threw a keg of gunpowder down the inside of the tower. The explosion did not topple the tower but the flames briefly died but returned as fierce as ever. Thompson found that Carter had died from his wounds. Since the Indians stopped shooting Thompson, he figured they thought he was dead as he watched the Seminoles looting and burning the lighthouse station. With three rifle balls in both of his feet and the stairway gone, he was stuck at the top. Fortunately a Navy schooner that heard the explosion from 12 miles away eventually got him down and into a hospital in Key West.
Take the tour and get the low down on all of its history and watch the great film about the Seminole attack.
David Garland FL Miami Dec 21, 2022 History Maritime Parks