Fowey Rocks Light

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Fowey Rocks Light
Fowey Lighthouse.jpg
Locationseven miles southeast of Cape Florida on Key Biscayne
Coordinates25°35′26.2″N 80°05′48″W / 25.590611°N 80.09667°W / 25.590611; -80.09667Coordinates: 25°35′26.2″N 80°05′48″W / 25.590611°N 80.09667°W / 25.590611; -80.09667
AutomatedMay 7, 1975
Height34 m (112 ft) Edit this on Wikidata
Shapeskeletal octagonal pyramid
Markingsbrown and white
HeritageNational Register of Historic Places listed place Edit this on Wikidata
Racon"O" (Oscar)
First lit1878
Focal height110 feet (34 m)
Lens1878: 1st order drum Fresnel lens
1982: Flash tube array
1983: 300mm
Current: VRB-25 system
RangeWhite 15 nautical miles (28 km; 17 mi), red 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi)
CharacteristicFlashing white 10s with two red sectors
Fowey Rocks Light
Fowey Rocks Light is located in Florida
Fowey Rocks Light
NRHP reference No.10001181[1]
Added to NRHPJanuary 26, 2011

Fowey Rocks Light is located seven miles southeast of Cape Florida on Key Biscayne.[2][3][4] The lighthouse was completed in 1878, replacing the Cape Florida Light. It was automated on May 7, 1975, and as of 2021 is still in operation.[5] The structure is cast iron, with a screw-pile foundation, a platform and a skeletal tower. The light is 110 feet above the water. The tower framework is painted brown, while the dwelling and enclosed circular stair to the lantern is painted white. The original lens was a first-order drum Fresnel lens which stood about 12 feet (4 m) high and weighed about a ton (tonne). The light has a nominal range of 15 miles in the white sectors, and 10 miles in the red sectors.

Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, U.S. Coast Guard Archive

Fowey Rocks are named after the Royal Navy frigate HMS Fowey which was wrecked on a different reef to the south in 1748.[6] During construction of the lighthouse the workers lived on a platform built over the water to minimize the danger of transporting them and their supplies each day from the mainland. While construction was under way, on 17 February 1878 the Arratoon Apcar ran aground on the reef. The 1500 ton steamship came to rest just 200 yards (180 m) from the workmen's platform.[7] Efforts to save the boat failed, and she was pounded apart on the rocks and sank. Today the wreck is an excellent scuba diving site.[8] One early assistant keeper of the lighthouse, Jefferson B. Browne, later became Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court.[9]

The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 washed away the first deck of the lighthouse, 15 feet above the water, but the tower survived. The lighthouse is inside the boundaries of Biscayne National Park.

In June 2011, the General Services Administration made the Fowey Rocks Light (along with 11 others) available at no cost to public organizations willing to preserve them.[10][11] On October 2, 2012, the National Park Service accepted ownership of the light.[12]

It is the last of the original Florida Keys offshore manned reef lights in operation, all others having been decommissioned by 2015.[13][14] The original Fresnel lens has been replaced by a modern solar-powered light. Although owned by the National Park Service, the light continues to be maintained by the US Coast Guard.[15]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Light List, Volume III, Atlantic Coast, Little River, South Carolina to Econfina River, Florida (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2009. p. 7.
  3. ^ "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: Florida". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. Archived from the original on 2017-05-01.
  4. ^ Rowlett, Russ (2010-03-11). "Lighthouses of the United States: Eastern Florida and the Keys". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  5. ^ "Fowey Rocks Lighthouse". National Park Service - Biscayne National Park. June 10, 2021. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  6. ^ The Coast Guard History site, cited above, says she was a Spanish Galleon, but there is substantial documentation of her Royal Navy status.
  7. ^ "The Alleged Arratoon Apcar Wreck Site". Marine Archaeological Research & Conservation Inc. 2006. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  8. ^ "Arratoon Apcar"., LLC. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  9. ^ Love Dean, Lighthouses of the Florida Keys (1998), p. 228.
  10. ^ "For sale: Waterfront property; cozy, great views, plenty of light, needs TLC". CNN. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  11. ^ Beatty, MaryAnne. "GSA Making 12 Historic Lighthouses Available at No Cost to Public Organizations Willing to Preserve Them". GSA Website. US General Services Administration. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  12. ^ "A Tale Of Two Lighthouses". National Parks Traveler. 2012-10-19. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
  13. ^ "The 6 Lighthouses". Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  14. ^ "Coast Guard Warns of Unsafe Florida Keys Reef Lighthouses". Florida Keys Treasures. January 31, 2015. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  15. ^ "Fowey Rocks Lighthouse". US National Park Service. Retrieved July 9, 2018.

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