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Life at the Ponce Inlet Light Station

It was over 100 years ago...


Your grandparents' grandparents are about your age. The cost of an acre of land here is $40. You could spend a week at our best hotel for $10 or a single night for $2, and this would include meals. Since this place was then called Mosquito Inlet, you might not want to visit in the summer.

If you are a kid, you have many chores to do, because people at the light station have to grow or catch their own food, take care of the beacon in the tower, fix anything that breaks, build whatever they might need, and keep the light station ready for surprise inspections. Kids are an important part of the work force. One chore the keeper's children often do is climb the tower each morning and hang the white curtains that protect the delicate glass of the Fresnel lens from the strong rays of the sun.

Living here at the Light Station is rugged. There is no indoor plumbing, so your house has no bathroom. Instead, your toilet is called a privy and is located in a small building behind your house. There is no toilet paper. You use pages ripped from old catalogs.

There are no roads to the lighthouse and nearly everything comes here by boat. Once each year a ship called a lighthouse tender arrives, carrying supplies. This is a big event for everyone in the area. Since a big ship can't get into Mosquito Inlet, many small boats go out to pick up the supplies and sail them back into the inlet.

If you went to school, you had few options of how to get there. You could go by boat across the inlet to a school on the mainland. You could take a horse and ride up the beach to the bridge to the mainland. You could wait until 1900 (you'd be thirteen if you were born the year the lighthouse was lit) when a one-room school house opened in Ponce Park. Or, you could wait until 1916 when a road is built to connect Daytona to the light station and take a bus. This is still a very long journey because the bus would cross the river at Orange Avenue in Daytona and travel all the way down to Port Orange where the school was located.

Even though you have lots of chores and school work, you still can have fun if your parents were living at the lighthouse. Since three families lived on the grounds, you would have other kids to play with. You could go swimming in the river in your itchy woolen bathing costume, have picnics, and put on plays with your friends. Some popular games were Jacks, marbles, Tiedler's Whinks (renamed Tiddly Winks in 1938), Old Maid, and Checkers.

Of course the food you eat every day is different from what most of us eat now. There are no supermarkets or fast food places. Things like tea, coffee, sugar, rice, flour and dried beans would come once a year on the lighthouse tender. You could eat out at the nearby Pacetti Boarding House and enjoy Mrs. Pacetti's famous poached sheep's head with egg sauce, but most people do not have the extra money to eat out very often. You go fishing and hunting and help your parents in the garden. Your mother does the cooking on a stove that is fueled by kerosene, the same smelly fuel that lights the beacon on top of the lighthouse. When it's time to do dishes, you often use rainwater that has been collected into a large, underground tank called a cistern.

That's life at the lighthouse!
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(386) 761-1821

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Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association
4931 South Peninsula Drive - Ponce Inlet, FL 32127
(386) 761-1821
Open Daily to the Public at 10:00 a.m.
Last admission one hour before closing

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