Beginning as the Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse in 1883, tragedy hit as the chief engineer and three others drowned in the inlet when construction began in 1884. The lighthouse was first lit on November 1st 1887 with a fresnel lens and kerosene lamps and could be seen 20 miles to sea.
Well known writer of “The Red Badge of Courage”, Stephen Crane was hired to write a story about the conflict in Cuba between the Spanish government and the Cuban Freedom Fighters. Crane found a gun running smuggling ship that regularly went to Cuba’s aid. Signing on as an able seamen as a cover for his real job as a reporter, the ship set sail from Jacksonville Florida on December 31 1896. In heavy seas the ship sank the following night and Crane found himself in a lifeboat with an injured captain and two sailors. Seeing the beacon light from the Mosquito Inlet they were able to make it to shore. That terrifying night led to one of Crane’s most famous short stories “The Open Boat”.
In 1909 the kerosene lamp was replaced by an incandescent oil vapor pump. Electricity was later brought into the keepers dwellings and in 1927 the Mosquito Inlet was officially changed to Ponce Inlet.
The keepers families had to leave the light station during World War II as the buildings were turned into barracks for the Coast Guard to stand watch against enemy submarines and aircraft.
The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Florida at 175 ft there are 213 steps to the top. The climb takes approximately 2 hours with the keeper tour so bring a bottle of water and get a workout climbing to the top of the lighthouse with an awesome view and enjoy the museum.
David Garland FL Daytona Beach Dec 28, 2022 Beaches Maritime Then & Now