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Lighthouse Tower

As you walk through the white picket fence, built to keep wild hogs out of the light station grounds, the 175 feet lighthouse tower stands to your right. The tower, which is one of the tallest in country, sits atop a brick foundation measuring 12 feet deep and 45 feet in diameter. As you step up the granite stairs and through the two sets of heavy wooden doors, observe the brick work on the outside of the tower. More than one and a quarter million bricks were shipped from New York and Baltimore for the towe alone. Taking more than four years to complete, the masonry work was considered to be of such fine quality that the tower was red-washed instead of painted to highlight its natural beauty.

As you enter the tower, look down to see the white and black Italian marble tiles that make up the floor of the ground level. In the center of the floor is a round pit known as the weight well. Although this was a standard feature in lighthouses of the time, it wasn't actually needed at Mosquito (Ponce) Inlet. In lighthouses that had rotating and flashing lenses installed prior to the use of electricity, clockworks were used to rotate the lens The large weights that drove the clockwork descended into the weight well where they rested in a bed of sand prior to being cranked up to the top of the tower again. At Mosquito Inlet, the weight well served catch objects that were accidently dropped from above.  The cracks in the marble floor around the well are evidence that not every falling object hit its mark. At the base of the tower, the walls are 8 feet thick and the tower itself is 32 feet in diameter. The tower tapers toward the top, where the walls thin to 2 feet, and the diameter is only 14 feet. The walls consist of an inner and outer brick wall connected by interstitial brick walls, similar to the spokes of a wheel. As the outer wall tapers, the inner wall remains a constant 12 feet in diameter.
 
 
The cast iron stairway to the top of the tower ascends clockwise, with a landing every 21 steps. Of course, every tool or supply the lighthouse keepers needed for the lens had to be carried up the steps to the service room, including five gallon cans of mineral oil, or kerosene, which weighed almost 45 pounds. The stairs and railings are original. There are three windows each on the east and west sides of the tower. At the service room level there are four.

The service room is the first room you will come to as you make your way up the tower stairs. This room held the lighthouse keepers' equipment, and a green wooden cabinet still sits here. Up the steps from the service room is the watch room. The exterior of this room is cast iron, as opposed to the red brick on the rest of the tower. Open the heavy iron watch room door and step out on to the gallery deck.

On a clear day on the gallery deck you can take in a breathtaking view of Daytona Beach to the north, New Smyrna Beach to the south, the Halifax River to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Imagine the contrast between what we see today from the top of the tower, and what it must have been like for William Rowlinski, the light station's first principal keeper. In 1887 the area was remote and wild. The official way to get to this side of the Inlet was on a boat from New Smyrna.

Looking up from gallery deck, you will see the Lantern Room which is home to the tower's restored third order Fresnel Lens. Originally installed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1933, this rotating third order lens flashes six times every fifteen seconds followed by a fifteen second exclipse. This flash pattern is unique to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and is commonly referred to as the tower's beacon characteristic.. The tower's original fixed first order Fresnel lens, which was installed from 1887 through 1933 is on display in the museum's renowned Lens Exhibit Building.
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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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