The Pensacola Lighthouse has a history as interesting as that of the deepwater port it illuminates. The original 1823 lightship Aurora Borealis served as little more than a harbor light and was replaced in 1825 by a 40-foot tower on a 40-foot bluff with a revolving Argand lamp with parabolic reflectors. A new 171-foot tower with a first-order Henry Lepaute lens was activated in 1859. The lens was damaged by retreating Confederate troops, although the lamp was relighted in 1863 with a fourth-order lens that was replaced with a first-order lens in 1869. The Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886 rocked the tower, stopping the pendulum clocks that rotated the lens. Today the light on the black-and-white tower is visible 27 miles at sea. The keeper's quarters are now a museum and the tower may also be seen.
The Florida Maritime Heritage Trail was created and is maintained by the
Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources,
with initial funding by Florida Coastal Management Program.
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