Time Tunnel to Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse

blogponce Visiting Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in 2003 was like a Time Tunnel trip to the Light Station in the 1890’s! Every building has been perfectly preserved to the era of sailing age when Coastal Castles were the primary guardians of safety for mariners seeking their home port!

Climbing the 194 spiral steps of this 175-foot high handsome red Lighthouse offers panoramic views of the spectacular scenic Florida coastline from Daytona Beach to Smyrna Dunes Park!

The Light Station includes the Ayres Davies Lens Exhibit Building which houses the restored original First-order Fresnel lens of Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and the rotating First-order Fresnel lens of Cape Canaveral lighthouse.

This Historical Treasure of Florida, located 12 miles south of Daytona Beach, is open to the public year round. After visiting Daytona Beach and Dale Earnhardt, Sr., the spirit of the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway on your next vacation, drive into the history of this beautifully preserved Light Station to see your vacation from a new perspective!

blue_starMap Location:
For a Map Location and aerial view of the Lighthouse, please visit the Google Map of Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse

Lighthouse Background:

Winslow Lewis constructed the first Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse which was completed in February, 1835 to mark the entrance of the inlet to the Mosquito River from the north and Indian River from the south. The First Light Keeper, Williams H. Williams had little work to do since the government failed to deliver the oil for his 11 Lewis Lamps!

After a storm in October 1835, the Keeper’s house was washed into the inlet and the Tower’s foundation was undercut. The Lighthouse could not be repaired due to the wars with the Seminole Indians and the Tower collapsed in April 1836.

On Feb 8, 1847, the Florida legislation requested a new Lighthouse which Congress never approved and a new Lighthouse was delayed again by the Civil War. After the Lighthouse Board noted the importance of a Lighthouse at the inlet to serve as both a coastal and a harbor light for four years (1870-1873), Congress did not approve the Board’s request. In 1882, the Lighthouse Board requested the Lighthouse again and Congress finally acted in 1882.

In 1883, construction of the present Lighthouse near the Mosquito Inlet was supervised by Orville E. Babcock, chief engineer of the sixth lighthouse district, using Light-House Board standard plans with modifications. Jared Smith became the Lighthouse construction supervisor after Orville Babcock drowned when his boat capsized while entering Mosquito Inlet on June 2, 1884.

On November 1, 1887, the Lighthouse was First Lit by Principal Keeper William Rowlinski exhibiting a Fixed White Light illuminated by a First-order Fresnel lens 159-feet above sea level visible for 20-miles out to sea.

After the Lighthouse was automated in 1953, the abandoned Light Station was unoccupied until one of the assistant Keeper’s House was used a Town Hall after the Town of Ponce Inlet was incorporated in 1963.

In 1970, the Coast Guard deactivated the Lighthouse after erecting a new skeletal tower Light at their Coast Guard Station on the south side of the Inlet. After vandals severely damaged the Light Station, the abandoned property was deeded to the Town of Ponce Inlet and Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association, Inc was established in 1972 to restore and manage the Light Station.

In restoring this Lighthouse Treasure, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Society has done a remarkable job reversing the damage done by the vandalism and neglect. In 1982, the Beacon in the Lantern Room was restored to active service as a Private Aid to Navigation.

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About Debbie Dolphin

Lighthouse author and photographer living in New England

Posted on November 8, 2008, in Open House, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse was not designed by Francis Hopkinson Smith. As the curator for the Lighthouse, I have been trying to correct this myth for a number of years. The lighthouse was built from standard plans of the US Light-House Establishment. Francis Hopkinson Smith was a talented engineer, writer, and artist. He did indeed do some contract work for the USLHE and for the Life-Saving Service. At the time the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse was built, however, Smith was constructing 5 Houses of Refuge in Florida. It is also important to note that Smith was not an architect. He was an engineer and contractor.

    • Hi Ellen Henry,

      Sorry for the delay… Since my Lighthouse Blog is online as an archive, I seldom check for new comments.

      Ironically, the Ponce Inlet Women’s Club originated the Francis Hopkinson Smith ‘myth’ or ‘fact.’ Unfortunately, the “Design of the Mosquito Inlet Light Station” article was published two years after my post.

      My post has been updated based on the information in that article.

  2. Hi Eric Speedcat Hollydale,

    Does the Speedcat Hollydale Farm Lighthouse guide all wayward purple cows home to the Minnesota Vikings? 😉

    It would be very difficult for me to imagine neglected Lighthouses unable to illuminate our safe course to home port!

    Lighthouses are very magical since these beacons symbolize the ingenuity of mankind to solve problems for the benefit and safety of mankind!

  3. I like this one … it has a midwestern farm appeal (except for the Palm Trees)

    Can you imagine if these treasures were not rescued from vandals and decay? Something magic about a lighthouse.

  1. Pingback: Time Tunnel to Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse | developtravel.com

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